You’re submitting your screenplay to a studio or production company but need a refresher on the television executive titles? Well, fear no more. The Professional Pen is here to help you decipher the difference between the titles and know who you are submitting to once you get your foot in the door.
Here at TPP, we like to keep it real, so let’s do just that. They are all just titles. Kidding! But not really. It’s helpful to point out that these titles can also be found in features. In television, these titles exist in both Scripted and Unscripted. Be sure not to get your wires crossed when submitting your screenplay to an executive or setting up general meetings. Pay attention to their full title and department.
Let's start from the bottom up. Because there are quite a few titles, this article will cover the lower level positions: Assistants, Coordinators, and Creative Executives. Before we jump into things, note that these descriptions are simplified. Each role goes above and beyond what's written below.
WHAT EACH DEPARTMENT DOES
First, some background on Creative Departments. TV Creative Departments house the following divisions:
Scripted Current Programming - TV execs that handle scripted programming that is currently on air.
Scripted Development - TV execs that bring in new projects. These are the execs that take the pitch meetings and screenplay submissions.
Unscripted Current Programming - Same as scripted but for Reality TV.
Unscripted Development - You get it by now.
The assistants are the most important people in the building. Without them, things would literally fall apart. The Assistants schedule all meetings, which means they know everyone there is to know in the industry. Depending upon which executive the Assistant is covering, they may also have the opportunity to read scripts and give script coverage. Assistants are often the first line of defense when submitting your screenplay. But this is not their job. Their job is to keep their executive(s) on track. A great way to connect with assistants is to utilize platforms like Linkedin. Linkedin can be a great resource to put a name to a face and also to make a cold introduction on the entry level.
The Coordinator runs the floor. They are the highest level Assistant because they also oversee all of the Assistants, manage the department's finances and track and report the programming. They also have all of the duties an Assistant does but usually for the Head of the Department. Coordinators are also active readers and may be a good person to slide your script to if you have a connection. They are actively trying to prove and develop their taste and have a greater knowledge of discernment about what the company’s brand and tone is.
The CE sits in on all pitches and notes calls depending upon their department, and is also responsible for being a mental rolodex of writers, producers and directors. Creative Execs basically operate as Managers but aren't responsible for as many shows. Creative Executives are always on the prowl for fresh new writers and are great people to connect with to get your foot in the door. Creative Executives are more likely to take general meetings as they are actively keeping their pulse on emerging writers.
The CE title is the freshmen of creative executives but not all companies have this title. Some begin directly at Manager level. Learn more about Managers, VP's, SVP,'s and EVP's in Part Two. Stay tuned.
KNOW THE BUSINESS
Understanding who should be on your radar as a screenwriter is a part of learning the business. Knowing how Hollywood functions is an even larger piece of the puzzle than honing your craft. It sucks but this is a who you know kind of business.
Want to dive deeper into the nature of the business for a professional screenwriter? Schedule an Industry Jam Session to chat with our CEO and Head Consultant Shannan E. Johnson and get the real tea on the industry and your scriptwriting career.
And be sure to check out Part Two, where we'll cover the junior and senior TV executive roles.
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