6 Things to Remember When Making the Transition to Executive Roles in TV

Posted on: Jun 27, 2024

Photo Credit: insta_photos // Shutterstock

By Benjamin Hickson

Transitioning from a hands-on production role to an executive position in the television industry is both exciting and challenging. This type of promotion brings a significant shift in responsibilities and requires a different skill set and mindset than a traditional on-set role. 

As you step into an executive role, you’ll need to balance creative vision with a business mentality, manage larger teams and make strategic decisions that affect the direction of projects and the company. I have worked for several executive-level producers and when asked what helped them transition from an on-set to executive role, these are the essential things they recommend when making this big transition.

Embrace Strategic Thinking

As an executive, your focus shifts from day-to-day operations to long-term strategy. This involves setting goals, planning for future projects and making decisions that align with the company’s vision and objectives. To thrive in an executive role, you need to understand the big picture and look beyond individual projects. As a leader, you must be able to prioritize effectively and communicate your strategic expertise.

Develop Leadership Skills

Leadership in an executive role is about inspiring and guiding others, fostering a positive work environment and driving the company toward its goals. Effective communication helps align efforts and ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals. 

If you take the time to mentor and develop your team members then your production as a whole will improve. Working with one of the top Executive Producers as a PA provided me with invaluable mentorship that greatly advanced my career. Executives must lead by example, showing the values and work ethic they expect from their team. Your behavior sets the tone for the entire organization.

Find Creative and Logistical Balance

In television, creativity is vital, but executives must also have a strong grasp of business fundamentals. As an executive, you often oversee budgets and ensure that projects stay within financial constraints. Having a sharp eye for detail and a strategic approach to resource management is essential.

For a creative, it can be hard to grasp the logistics side of this new job. It’s important to stay informed about industry trends, audience behaviors and emerging technologies so that creative ideas can be successful. This knowledge helps you make informed decisions and keep the company competitive.

Build and Maintain Relationships

Networking and relationship-building are critical skills for everyone in this industry. You need to cultivate relationships with a variety of stakeholders, clients, talent and your on-set team. The industry professionals you build these relationships with, such as producers, directors, writers and talent agents, can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations. Maintaining relationships with external partners, distributors, advertisers and investors will enhance your company’s reach and financial stability. This can lead to bigger opportunities for the future.

Be Adaptable

Executives must be adaptable and responsive to change. This includes staying open to new ideas and technologies that can enhance your projects and processes and encouraging your team to experiment and innovate. 

As the executive, you must be prepared to handle crises and unexpected challenges. I have seen what happens to a crew when they are working for an EP that is not adaptable. It greatly decreases the team’s morale. If the team cannot trust you to deal with these sometimes sudden changes to the plan, then how can they be expected to do the same? I would recommend always having contingency plans and remaining calm and decisive under pressure.

Create a Positive Company Culture

Executives play a crucial role in shaping and maintaining the company culture. A positive, inclusive and productive culture can drive success and attract top talent. I personally believe that one of the most important things a leader can do is to promote inclusion within your company. Inclusive teams, especially in this industry, bring much-needed varied perspectives and ideas, leading to more innovative creations and better TV made for everyone. 

Personally, I like a leader who can foster a work environment where employees feel valued and engaged. It not only makes everyone on the team feel better, but they will work harder too. Regularly seek feedback and involve your team in decision-making processes.

Transitioning to an executive role in television is a significant milestone that brings new challenges and opportunities. It can certainly be an intimidating jump, but if you can develop strong leadership skills and find the balance of creativity and logistics, you can successfully navigate this transition.

Remember that your ability to inspire and guide others will be key to your success and the success of your projects and company.

Benjamin Hickson is an aspiring producer and production coordinator who has 4+ years experience working on various Film and TV projects. He has a background in Public Relations and served for six years in the military. He also has passion for travel and aims to increase LGBTQ+ representation in the entertainment industry.

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