How to Transition From Unscripted to Scripted

Posted on: Jun 08, 2023

clapper on setPhoto courtesy of Grusho Anna / Shutterstock

By Steffanie Bradley

If you’ve been working in the world of unscripted television and find yourself yearning to dive into the scripted realm—yet are unsure how to make this transition—you’ve come to the right place.

The leap from unscripted to scripted can be an exciting and rewarding career move, but it’s essential to understand the nuances and differences between the two. First and foremost, it’s crucial to recognize that unscripted and scripted productions operate on different principles and workflows. Unscripted television typically involves capturing real-life situations and events, often with minimal pre-production and a greater emphasis on improvisation. Scripted productions, on the other hand, follow carefully crafted scripts, with detailed pre-production and rehearsal processes. Understanding these distinctions will be fundamental as you navigate the transition.

Here are our top tips to help you make a successful leap.

Expand Your Skill Set

One of the most effective ways to make the leap is by expanding your skill set. Take the time to study and familiarize yourself with the unique aspects of scripted TV production. This could include learning about scriptwriting, story development, shot composition, lighting techniques and working with actors. Building your knowledge in these areas will not only make you a more well-rounded professional, but also enhance your credibility when seeking opportunities in the scripted space.


Networking is another key component of successfully transitioning from unscripted to scripted TV. Reach out to industry professionals who are already working in scripted television and seek opportunities to connect with and learn from them through making contacts on Staff Me Up and networking events. Attend networking events, workshops and seminars that cater to the scripted TV community. Joining online forums and social media groups focused on scripted TV production can also provide valuable insights and networking opportunities. Remember, building relationships and expanding your network is often the key to unlocking new opportunities.

Be Prepared to Start Over

When it comes to landing your first scripted TV production job, consider starting with entry-level positions or seeking out internships or production assistant (PA) roles. This will allow you to gain firsthand experience in the scripted environment and learn from seasoned professionals. Be open to taking on diverse roles and responsibilities, as this will give you a broader understanding of the scripted production process. Your unscripted background can be an asset, showcasing your ability to think on your feet, adapt quickly and collaborate effectively with a team.

Be Resilient

It’s important to remain persistent and stay true to your passion for scripted television. The transition may not happen overnight, but with dedication, perseverance and a proactive mindset, you can make significant strides toward achieving your goal. Remember that every experience—whether in unscripted or scripted TV production—contributes to your overall skill set and professional development.

Making the leap from unscripted to scripted in TV production jobs requires a combination of knowledge, networking, flexibility and persistence. Embrace the differences between the two genres, expand your skill set, build your network and seek out opportunities to gain hands-on experience in scripted television. By following these strategies and remaining true to your passion, you’ll be well on your way to carving out a rewarding career in the thrilling world of scripted TV production.

Ready to make the transition? Sign up or log in to Staff Me Up to start browsing our open jobs page to apply to your next role now!

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