How is a TV series made?

Dark, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sherlock Holmes, Rick and Morty, Westworld; How many hundreds of TV series! We are now living in the golden age of TV series. Ever wondered how TV series with so many episodes are made?

From the author’s manuscript to the TV screen, a show has to go through a very complex and perfect process. In this article, we will discuss the different stages of making a TV series.

TV series ‘Breaking Bad’
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We all know there are countless studios around the world; Their business is centered on making TV series. Netflix, Amazon, ABC, CBS, Hulu are some of the most famous studios in the world. Studios can be of two types depending on the media. Cable network and online streaming service. The channels we watch when we turn on the TV are cable networks. And streaming services are like Amazon Prime, Netflix, whose promotion is only online-based.

To make a specific TV series, the studio made the decision first. The various scripts that come to them, they check and choose which TV series they will make and which TV series will be on what budget. After fixing it, they handover the budget and script to a showrunner.

Sometimes, the opposite happens; Showrunner goes to the studio with a script and convinces the studio to finance the series. The point is, Show Runner is the leading creator of a series.

Often, the showrunner is asked by the studio to make the first episode of the series; This is called a pilot episode. If the pilot episode gets good ratings after airing on TV and can satisfy the studio, then the studio undertakes the project of building the entire season.

How is a TV series made?
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Now suppose you are a series showrunner. The series that the studio has given you is a drama series. There will be 13 episodes per season. Suppose the length of each episode is 50 minutes. The studio, however, will not give you a long time to film a season. The studio’s money management and the cast’s schedule will provide you with very little time to shoot the complete season. It takes more time to shoot a whole season of a 13-episode series than it takes to make a blockbuster film.

So your main responsibility as a showrunner is to allocate time and responsibilities. In the beginning, you will do a blueprint for the whole season with detailed planning. Decide who will direct which episode, how long it will take to shoot an episode, where the story will have a climax, where a character will enter, or die. This whole part of the plan is called pre-production.


The showrunner fixes significant events in the story; The screenwriters wrote the script accordingly. Showrunner can direct all the episodes of the season. Again some episodes can be direct by other directors if desired.

A scene from ‘Stranger Things’
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After explaining the story to the screenwriters, they will bring the script of all the episodes of the whole season and submit it to you. The script for a 50-minute episode will be about 40 pages, which means the entire season’s script will be about 500 pages. You will then send the script of each episode to the director and the image director. They will immediately start planning with each episode.

There will be an art department. The role of the art department is very important here. For example, the story of this series has been written centering on New York in the sixties. The responsibility of the art department is to do research on everything at that time. What were the clothes of the people then, what were the buildings and roads like then?

Starting from such big issues, the art department will do a lot of research on what magazines and magazines were at that time, and even what kind of watches and jewelry people wore. Sets will be arranged based on their study, and costumes will be designed.


Now this time is for the main part of the series – shooting. You need a ‘tight schedule’ to shoot a 40-page script in 7 days. Where will be the shooting of which part, which actors will be required; All details must be in the schedule. The director will plan the details of each scene. Where will each scene be shot, what time of day will it be shot, and which actors will act in it.

Scenes from the shooting of Game of Thrones
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This detailed planning document for each scene is called the ‘White Schedule.’ You will send a copy of the White Schedule to everyone involved in the series before the shooting begins.

Before the shooting starts, all the actors will sit together at a big table and read the script from beginning to end. This is called ‘table read.’ This time the director will plan with the cinematographer how to shoot today’s scenes. How each scene will be captured on camera, how a character will be shown from any angle; everything will be fine. It can also take hours to shoot a one-minute scene.

Post Production

Post-production is a vital part of a series. The inexperience of post-production destroys your excellent artistic work. The overall quality of your series will depend on the quality of the post-production team’s work.

The post-production team is again divided into three parts – editor, Sound Designer, Visual Effects Artist.

Visual effects artists are responsible for correcting any partial errors in a scene taken during the shooting.

A sound designer’s job is to edit the sound, smooth the voice, and set the dubbing properly.

An editor has to do the most important thing. Parts captured on camera for a 50-minute episode can take hours of footage. You know, the director can shoot a scene many times for perfect visuals. It is the responsibility of the editor to choose the perfect take from many takes.

Also, the editor will make the final 50-minute episode by cutting out some unnecessary and some less necessary parts from time to time. The 50-minute episode that the editor will make after editing is the ‘Editor’s cut.’

It will then go to the director. The director will make some changes in his mind there. This cut recognized by the ‘Director’s cut.’

The director’s cut will then go to the showrunner. Show Runner will see if his vision has been realized in this episode. He will also bring any change. His cut is called ‘Producer’s cut.’ 

This producer’s cut will then reach the studio, which will then be called ‘Network’s cut.’ The network’s cut is the final cut, which is sent for broadcast.

TV series ‘Sherlock Holmes’
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The whole process mentioned above is only one episode. There are 12 more episodes left. Yes, the remaining 12 episodes will also go through this long process.

Most of the TV series we watch on TV is completed just a few days before the broadcast, and in some cases just a few hours before. So while watching the first episode of the season, there is no reason to think that the rest of the episodes have already been completed.

However, in the case of Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Other streaming platforms, there is another calculation. As you may know, they release all episodes of the entire season without airing one episode a week like other studios or cable networks.

Feature Image – TrendLeakers