How does a tv show get made?

Before I started working in TV – I found that it was impossible to understand the how of a tv show. How did it get on tv? How did it get made? How did it get “green-lit,” whatever that means?

It turns out, this question is more detailed that you’d like to think but the formula in doing so is so simple. It starts with an idea. A simple idea from a writer with an agent. That agent is the one pitching to production companies. If the production company likes it they’ll partner with the writer and then go to the studio. If the studio likes it, then they will go to the network. If the network execs like it – they’ll go to the head of their company, the president of entertainment, and tell them they have to greenlit the show.

It’s simple – there are so many ifs, whys, and hows to it, but the overall set up is simple. Now the next question is – how do you get an agent? That’s the thing that gets the ball rolling. Well, that is not so simple – getting an agent is just the first step and they tend to find you instead of you finding them.

The easy way to get an agent is to be a writer on a writing staff. Someone on the writing staff can refer you to their agent or the coordinator at the agency will identify you as a potential signing target as you are on the staff and un-repped. Ideally you’ll have an original piece (that would have gotten you on the writing staff to begin with) that an agent will read and be wow-ed by. Getting an agent is all about luck and timing and having the same group of people like the material that you make.

And then the circle begins again.

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