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From dark dramas to upbeat comedies, great television is only as strong as the showrunner calling the shots behind the scenes. A showrunner is the creative force behind all the fascinating characters you see on television. They manage the entire production of each show. Usually, the creativity and management of a concept, whether it’s animation, situation comedy, drama or another art form, are not a great mix of tasks. As a showrunner, however, engaging both brain hemispheres is a must, creative/visual imagery and logical/mathematical thinking, to develop an episodic series of programs that engage, please audiences, and yield financial rewards.
Storyteller, taskmaster, visionary, and financier in charge of production costs and staff describe the professional life as a showrunner. Showrunners are given a specific number of shows for a fixed amount of cash and expected to take an idea from its rough imaginings to an entertaining conclusion, every seven days.
Creating and managing a show is a big responsibility, but one filled with collaboration and creative freedom. Showrunners often write or co-write scripts and conceive every character and his/her interactions as well as the plot and conclusion. Composition, editing, casting, stage location and filming, and hiring and firing decisions are all integral parts the job.
Showrunners work in an environment with talented artisans who help bring a long-waited vision to life, so collaboration is not just necessary but integral to the job. Feedback and constructive criticism is not only expected but must be embraced and accepted by the showrunner. Examples include:
Showrunners are a magic makers–grand and glorious storytellers, excellent collaborators and curators–delivering a series of incredibly entertaining and epic shows for the audience and the benefactors who have invested a significant amount of money in the creative abilities of the team.
Having stretched every dollar to its limit achieving stunning portrayals of subjects, showrunners layer the content in each production with these captivating structures:
This kind of television entertainment keeps the audience engaged, committed, and eager to continue viewing in an ongoing weekly pattern, indefinitely.
Today, the proliferation of scripted TV series makes the demand for showrunners enormous. Showrunners are to TV what directors are to film, and they are branching out from TV into networks, basic, and premium channels and new streaming outlets like Netflix and Hulu.
Television ratings are the true measure of success as a showrunner. If the audience numbers are large and consistent, the creative challenge of audience satisfaction has been met. If people see the artistic effort on cable or outlets, and strong subscription sales result, the mark of excellence for quality production has been achieved.
It takes a special kind of person to become a showrunner. Not only are impeccable organizational skills required, so is a hard work-ethic, creativity, and sense of fun. These exceptional kind of people create intrigue and keep audiences captivated like David E. Kelly, Tina Fey, Jill Kargman, Martin Gero, Shonda Rhimes, and Adam Reed. Add your name to this list of excellence and become a new force to be reckoned with in the television space.