What to look for in a showrunner


(Chris Hadley) #1

Hey guys,
I’m currently hoping to find a showrunner to oversee production of my web series, The Late, Late News. I’ve already set up a writers’ room, and am also looking for more writers in hopes of establishing a diverse room (50% female/50% male). At this point, I’m unable to pay anyone but you will get exposure and credit for your work.

In terms of the showrunning aspect, what skills are typically required of a web series showrunner? I’ve been trying to work on putting out an ad for one here, and I’m stuck on trying to figure out the requirements needed (in the “must have” part of the ad). Any suggestions? @gmcalpin

Thanks guys!


(Bri Castellini) #2

@HackettKate @alwaysafilmgeek y’all have been/had showrunners before, right? Any advice here?


(Emma Drewry) #3

EXTREMELY organized and more importantly knows how to set up those systems-- the largest part of my job in the beginning & a big part of showrunning unless you have a showrunner’s assistant is setting up the way the room and production updates work. Whether it’s Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, whatever, making sure that everyone is on the same page, knows where to find everything, and that everything is labelled correctly is massively important. There are a lot of documents that go into making a show and it’s so easy to lose them, especially in a writer’s room.
Communication is also really important-- I had about 10 writers at first, and trying to make sure everyone was on the same page and feeling good was super difficult, especially when I had a difficult writer whose writing wasn’t up to par and couldn’t take criticism.
On that note, decisiveness & authoritativeness. This is my biggest struggle and also what I think I’ve had to learn to step into most. When writers would disagree with me, or the producers, and I knew what I wanted strongly, I had to stick by it and not budge. Knowing when to draw that line and how to draw that line is invaluable. When that problem writer became enough of a problem that we had to fire her, making that decision and sticking by it was a painful process for me. But it was even harder to sit down and actually fire her, because while it wasn’t a good fit, she wasn’t a bad person. Having your voice mean something is crucial, but having your voice mean something without making people upset with you or resent you is even more important. You need your writers to trust you, and you need them to feel like their voice is valued enough to make suggestions.
A good editor. Writing editor, that is. The majority of my job during the draft process was editing. Being able to edit for consistent tone, character voices, and to all match one vision is so important. You have several writers who won’t write the same way, but you have one show. Your showrunner needs to be able to edit for cohesion.
This is really disorganized, so my apologies. Lacking sleep as I’ve been running my own show :sweat_smile: If there’s something confusing let me know and I’ll try to explain what I meant


(Chris Hadley) #4

@alwaysafilmgeek Thanks so much, Emma. I really appreciate your thoughts on this, and I definitely know the feeling of being indecisive when it comes to decision making. That, as well as my communication with the actors and crew, is something I would like to work on. Especially with the actors, I want them to get advance notice for when I plan to shoot each episode, and when I plan to schedule everything.

I do have experience in Dropbox and Google Drive, though due to lack of space on my Google Drive I exclusively use Dropbox. As for trying to get everyone on the same page, it’s tough when you’re trying to oversee a production centered in two different states. I’ve even had a few Google Hangouts to discuss production issues, but not everyone was available at the times that I held those chats.

Now that you’ve mentioned what’s required of a showrunner, I will take those requirements into consideration when I put out my ad. I definitely want someone who has experience with both Dropbox and Excel spreadsheets (the latter to list contact info and tasks for the show). Good people skills and decisive leadership is also something I’ll definitely need when I look for someone to take over for me in running this show.

Thanks so much for this explanation, and for sharing your advice with me. Really appreciate it! Hope it helps everyone else here, too!


(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #5

Good luck! Let us know when you find a showrunner! :slight_smile: