Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Working in TV Production

Shonda Rhimes

Lesson time 11:34 min

Shonda talks about how a writer can best adapt to the fast-paced world of television production and the important lessons she has learned in over a decade of producing TV.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Producing Partners • Line Producers • Actors • Crew


When you're writing a movie, what's wonderful is that, for 364 days, you can think about writing your movie, and then spend a couple of months writing your movie. With television, every eight days you need to produce a script. And if you're doing that for 22 episodes, every eight days for 22 sets of eight days or whatever, you have to produce a script. That is not a joke, and it must happen. You're in eight days in prep, eight days in shooting, eight days in post-production. And it has to continuously happen, or else the trains stop, as we like to call it. And if the trains stop, production stops, and money keeps getting spent while everybody waits for you, which you can't do. So it is a continuous race to keep ahead of production, to have scripts ready for people to shoot. And you have to have the ability to keep producing scripts and making something happen, which is very different from movies, where you write one, and then people think about it for months, and then they give you notes, and you think about it for months, and then-- I don't know, there's months of pre-production, and then months of like preparation and discussion and rehearsals. And then you shoot a movie. Movies can take years. One script could take years to get made, whereas television, it's immediate, which is both terrifying and exciting. There's something really wonderful about the idea that I can have an idea like Olivia Pope gets kidnapped on a Monday, and by the next Monday I'm sitting having a table read where Olivia Pope gets kidnapped, and by the next Monday Olivia Pope's been kidnapped. You know, that's thrilling. But it is very immediate. [MUSIC PLAYING] I would highly recommend people get a non-writing producing partner. I think it's invaluable if you can find the right person. I don't know how a lot of people do their jobs without it. Betsy and I talk about this all the time. She's my non-writing producing partner, and she and I go, why don't other people do this more? And it's starting to become more and more frequent. But I highly recommend it. Having a non-writing producing partner in Hollywood is very rare, I think, for television shows. And for me, it has been invaluable simply because my capacity for shows-- well, not even my capacity, we have so many shows. And we want to make more shows that I'm not creating, but we also want to make shows that I am creating. And on the ones I'm not creating, it's sort of like being the grandmother. You get to hold the baby and love the baby, but then you get to give the baby back and go home. But I still have my own shows that I'm still overseeing on a day-to-day basis. That's hard. That's a lot of-- I think we're going to have six shows on the air at a certain point this year. That's a lot of shows. And in order to do that, you really need to-- I couldn't imagine doing all that by myself. To hav...

About the Instructor

When Shonda Rhimes pitched Grey’s Anatomy she got so nervous she had to start over. Twice. Since then, she has created and produced TV’s biggest hits. In her screenwriting class, Shonda teaches you how to create compelling characters, write a pilot, pitch your idea, and stand out in the writers’ room. You’ll also get original pilot scripts, pitch notes, and series bibles from her shows. Welcome to Shondaland.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Shonda Rhimes

In 6+ hours of video lessons, Shonda teaches you her playbook for writing and creating hit television.

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