Production is where a script or idea is taken from the page and made real. It involves the physical action taking place during an agreed timeframe - where everyone is assembled and carrying out their creative duties in order to produce a programme. The production team deal with the organisational and logistical aspects of a production to ensure it runs smoothly, on time and on budget. Members of the production team, director/producer, AP, researchers, coordinators and office runners (when needed) are there to meet the needs of crew members and fulfil practical and everyday production essentials such as transport, accommodation and keeping on top of paperwork amassed during pre-production, production and post-production.
Members of the production team book and organise camera kit and related lighting and electrical equipment. They liaise with suppliers and freelance crew and ensure all necessary information is distributed properly within other departments such as technical, editorial and post-production. They also ensure that everything on the broadcaster’s list of ‘deliverables’ is handed over to the broadcaster with the master tapes at the end of post production.
Some of the larger production companies will encompass a range of content spanning a range of genres. For example - Endemol Shine Group produce game shows, drama, factual, sitcoms, cookery and documentary. Smaller companies are more likely to specialise in a certain genre - but really corner that particular market, eg. Icon Films who produce a predominant slate of natural history and wildlife. When working as an in-house office runner, the content produced by the company is of little relevance to your general office duties, unless you’re asked to help out on a specific production that is struggling to find a freelance runner. Member of the production department can be found across the industry.
News: Newsdesk co-ordinators work with editorial to co-ordinate stories.
Documentary: Co-ordinators, production managers and execs can be found in independent and in house production or broadcast offices.
Children’s TV: full protection department either in house at the BBC or within an independent production company. Working with children requires knowledge of working hours, educational facilities/on set tutors (when working with children on a series).
Reality TV: Depending on the scale a full production team will be attached to a project, especially if scripted reality.
Factual: Independent production companies will have a small core team of production staff (coordinator and production manager), taking on freelancers for specific projects. The production manager will most likely work across all the jobs to provide consistency for the company.
Entertainment: Entertainment programmes such as Ant and Dec, Strictly Come Dancing or 8 out of 10 cats will employ a host of production staff to contribute to the smooth running of the show. The bigger the production the more likely to employ a larger technical and editorial staff too.
Comedy: Whether filming a studio based sitcom or out on location TV comedy attracts a host or production staff. The comedy world in TV is quite small, and you can find the same faces (production and crew) on different comedy productions.
Sports/OB/Live events: Outside broadcast like news is a specialised area of the industry, centered around the OB trucks. Production staff will be office based co-ordinating the event and the OB teams.
TV Drama: See MFJF
The entry level positions for the Production Department are:
Due to the abundance of departments in the TV industry, there are an almost infinite number of routes you could take. There are no rules. There are popular careers (eg. production manager/floor manager), but the popular careers are also the most sought after and thus harder to break into due to the amount of competition. Here are some common routes.
Common TV Career Routes:
Office Runner > Junior Researcher > Researcher > AP > PD > Series Producer > Exec Prod
Office Runner> Exec PA > Office Manager > Head of Production > Company Director/Exec
Office Runner/Secretary > Production Assistant/Production Co-ordinator > Production Manager
A great natural progression would be to step up from office runner to production assistant (PA) - where you’ll diversify your skill set and become a bit of a production chameleon, who is present from preproduction to post production and a multi-tasking hero. The role is technical, creative and administrative. PAs supervise set up and operation of production equipment, help plan programme format and research scripts, maintain production records, and hire equipment. PAs are more generalist than specialist.
In most TV genres, production work very closely with the editorial department/script department. The production manager (Head of Department) usually sits close to the series producer (or producer on single programmes or smaller productions) in the production office - together, they work with the executive producer, who usually brings in the commission and helps the production manager and producer/series producer get the project off the ground once it has been green lit by the broadcaster.
The production secretary or production assistant working in the TV industry provides administrative assistance to senior production staff. They report to the production coordinator and production manager. In TV this role can often involve more than a traditional secretarial role, though some duties will remain the same.
The hierarchy of the Production Department in TV can consist of the following roles:
Production Manager’s Assistant (specific to BBC in-house productions)
Line Producer (on high end drama and feature films only)
Head of Production
Areas of the industry these entry level jobs could lead into:
Acquisitions and Rights
Legal and Business Affairs
Marketing and Publicity