What Are the Various Positions in a Writer's Room?
Updated: Jan 13
Writers Room Hierarchy:
5 Levels, 12 Roles, and 3 Job Functions you need to know
You want to go from an idea for a TV series straight to Showrunner like Dan Levy?
It's not impossible - just ask Eugene Levy if he's adopting any more kids.
If he's not, don’t fret. You can still get that coveted Showrunner role by climbing through the ranks.
Think of the Showrunner as the CEO of a company. When you're fresh out of school, you don't apply for CEO jobs. You look for paid internships or admin gigs. You put in the work and climb your way up the ladder. But what are the different rungs on that ladder?
There are 5 different levels, 3 main functions, and 12 roles:
(NOTE: The make-up, structure, positions and responsibilities of a room can always differ based on the Showrunner's preferences)
Function 1: Assistant
Role 1: Writers PA
Role 2: Writers Assistant
Role 3: Script Coordinator
Function 2: Writer
Role 4: Staff Writer
Function 2: Writer
Role 5: Story Editor
Role 6: Executive Story Editor
Role 7: Executive Script Consultant
Role 8: Co-Producer
Role 9: Producer
Function 2: Writer
Role 10: Supervising Producer
Role 11: Co-Executive Producer
Function 3: Showrunner
Role 12: Executive Producer
Level 1: ASSISTANT LEVEL
This is where you get your foot in the door and build those elusive “relationships”.
This is the lowest level job in the office. They’re not in the room, but managing the day to day basic needs of the room — taking coffee, lunch, phones, cleaning, organizing. Lavish? No. Essential? Absolutely! Do them well and it won’t go unnoticed.
You sit in the room taking detailed notes during all the brainstorming. When the genius ideas strike, you’ve captured them on paper so they’re not forgotten and the show doesn’t get cancelled (kinda a big deal, no?). You also maintain the show bible so writers can quickly reference previous episodes or seasons. Attention to detail isn’t your thing? MAKE IT your thing!
You have a bit more seniority than the Writer’s Assistant, but you aren’t always in the room – it depends on the showrunners’ preference. You proofread each script for errors and ensure they match the showrunner’s formatting preference. You manage each draft of the script – from writer’s draft to final shooting draft – adding and managing revised pages as they come in. Staying organized is key. Labels, post-its, colored tabs, dewey decimal system - whatever you need to get it done, get it done!
Level 2: ENTRY LEVEL
Congrats! You’re a writer with a paid weekly salary and can finally stop eating the writers room leave-behinds. You contribute in brainstorming sessions, punch-ups, and all aspects of story and character development. You might not get to write a script of your own at this level, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write your own anyway. Put in the work! It’ll pay off.
Level 3: MID LEVEL
Movin’ on up! At this level, you all have the same basic job functions: to develop stories and write together in the room, as well as being assigned a script of your own during the season (head-exploding emoji!!!). You can have various titles depending on your level of experience:
Executive Story Editor
Executive Script Consultant
The difference in title doesn’t necessarily change the job at hand — it just equates to the number of years you’ve been doing it. Each new title comes with a bump in pay and seniority in the room. At this level, if you’re working on a single-cam show, you might have the chance to be on set. But if you’re working on a multi-cam you’ll definitely be on set to help with punch-ups and re-writes during shooting. Get some autographs! (Don’t, though)
Level 4: UPPER LEVEL
This is the upper crust, the big leagues, the VP-level. Your responsibilities both in and out of the room really start to grow. You’re in the training ground for running your own show. (Soon-to-be-BAWSS STATUS!)
The Supervising Producer is third in command — when the Showrunner is busy on set, and the Co-Executive Producer is busy with responsibilities like casting and editing — you step up to run the room. (Interim-BAWSS STATUS!)
When the Showrunner is unavailable, you’re in charge of the room. You ensure the Showrunner’s vision for the show arrives on the pages of each script. At this level, you’re taking the lead in the room as well as editing drafts of episodes before they go to the Showrunner, network or studio. You might also be casting guest stars and cutting episodes in the editing room. (A multi-tasker’s fantasy come true)
Level 5: SHOWRUNNER LEVEL (BAWSS STATUS!)
This is YOUR show. Figuratively AND Literally. You’re (most likely) the creator of the show. You’re the person in charge of not just the scripts and vision, but staffing the writers room, budgeting, casting, editing — the entire look and feel of the show. You’re in charge of every aspect of production from conception until the episode airs. It’s a huge responsibility (hey, you wanted to be a BAWSS, right?) and there’s a reason writers have to move through so many titles before they reach this level.
While the various titles might seem intimidating to a new writer, there are really only three main job functions in the room — assistant, writer, showrunner. All the various roles within are markers of how long you’ve been working in TV (and how much money you make - BAWSS!!!)
If you’re looking to break-in, start at the Assistant level, write everyday, and then hire me as your Assistant when you’re running your own show on Netflix.
Want more info on prepping your materials to get staffed? Check out our upcoming classes at theCWRoom.com/classes.