How your script gets made into a TV show

Have you ever wondered how the process behind getting a script or idea made into a TV show, looks like?
In this step-by-step guide I explain the process in detail.

Step 1. Sending the script

First a script gets submitted to a production company. The interns and assistant read those scripts. From a few selected scripts that has something extra, a short summary is written, before sending them further up the hierarchy - to the producers. Producers then read these scripts and evaluate them according to internal processes and checklists. The scripts that meets the producers criteria are marked as interesting and initial contact between the production company and the scriptwriter is made.

Step 2. Development

The first deal a production company makes is a development deal with an option clause, between the scriptwriter and the production company. The option clause regulates how many years the producers have the rights to the script before the rights goes back to the scriptwriter (if the producer is not successful in finding finance and partner).

When the deal is in place the producer starts the process of developing the script together with the scriptwriter and other people of interest. To get interest, and most importantly- money, for further development and later on, a potential green light, the producer attach other talents, such as directors and actors in order to create a “selling package” with the only purpose to spark interest among external financiers, partners and distribution companies. Sometimes the production company (if they really believe in the idea/script) “risks” their own money to push the project forward.

Bonus fact
In some cases the production company has a first option deal with a publishing company. If so, the production company have a group of 5-10 people (with great knowledge in scriptwriting and storytelling) which only purpose is to read the latest books- before they hit the market. The publishing company often shares information to the production company on which books will get the most marketing/PR when released. The production company then uses their “first-option” on all those books and the one book that gets the most attention automatically gets a production/or development deal.

Step 3. Pre-Production

In pre-production the producers hires a line producer that makes the budget. The budget is based on the
3-4:th version of the script. Negotiations with actors, agents and other potential partners are made.
Above the line functions are hired and the whole production is planned to the last detail. Often producers hires a external office for this purpose and the everybody that works on that special project is working under the same roof, during pre-production all the way through the production.

Step 4. Production

While filming the producer mainly works on solving different problems that comes in the way. From difficult directors to drunk actors that freaks out for no particular reason to financiers that want to visit the set with their families. 

Step 5. Post-production

In post-production the producers oversees the post producer (person responsible for post-production and the processes) and makes sure that everything goes as planned. The producers also watch cuts and provides feedback and notes to the editor and director. If extra scenes, or reshoots are needed, the producer is the one greenlighting them- while keeping everything on budget.

Step 6. Release

When it's time for release, the producers are the ones making sure the release goes as planned. The producer monitors meltdowns and are in constant contact with the distributors, PR-companies, marketing teams, and sales agents. The producer reports back to the head of the studio on how the release is going.