Who is the showrunner?

Who is the showrunner?
It is mentioned in several reviews, there are many texts (academic and otherwise) that speak of it. An English terminology, not the only one clearly, which is used instead of Italian expressions. Perhaps because, in the specific case, it is easier and pragmatic to use a single word instead of a "long" definition, giving the impression of immediacy and specific and clear appeal to the television production sector. Let's talk about figures like Shonda Rhimes, J.J. Abrams, Beau Willimon, David Benioff and others. Directors? No, showrunner. "Mythological" figures from the world of cinema, the so-called creators and executive producers on whom it is good to clarify and better understand what they represent in the great production machine of cinema.


Let's answer your question immediately: what does the showrunner represent? If we want, the term itself says so: he is the one who "runs" the entire production process of a show. Specifically, it is a term used in particular in the overseas television industries, therefore in the United States and Canada, to speak of the person responsible for the operations carried out daily in the making of a television series, being its creator or co-creator.

Unlike what happens in the production of a film, where directors have creative control, the showrunner usually plays a greater role in television than the director. This character has experienced a sort of development over time: initially, the executive producer of a television program was the managing director, who was responsible for the production of the program.

Subsequently, the The title of executive producer has been increasingly used to refer to a vast panorama of roles: from those in charge of organizing the financing, to "honorific title" but without effective organizational powers.

in The light of these changes, the term showrunner was created to identify the producer who holds the final authority within the organizational and creative series that you are paying. It is a figure that you might as well define as an expression and exponent of the nouvelle vague, the television, a new way to conceive the role of authorship which places the pillars and the foundation , and then follow the rest of the text to the serial port.

The series are also famous for ending with a cliffhanger , we explain in our glossary the meaning of this term.

In support of what we are explaining, we could cite authoritative sources, such as “ The new factory of dreams “(2016, ilSaggiatore), the text of Aldo Grasso and Cecilia Penati , which define the showrunner as the new demiurghi of the imagination , that center around every aspect of artistic production in the context of the TV series.

do Not talk in this academic text, but also in the book Crafty's screenwriting: Writing Movies That Get Made (2002) by Alex Epstein, where the author defines the showrunner as “the person responsible for all aspects of creative and serious, and responsible only vis-à-vis the broadcaster and production house, if it is not his). The head. Usually a writer.”

The showrunner in the world

In this regard, therefore, we strive to give you concrete examples of the work of a showrunner, which we have mentioned some of the names of the most famous in the history of contemporary cinema. After having explained in a fairly wide definition, and the concept of this term, it is good to clarify that this figure among the experts, undergoes a few changes based on the Status of the reference.

We explain: if the definitions so far provided, outlining the most of the role in an objective manner and tends to be confined to the world of production USE, the showrunner has been perceived differently in other countries, especially in Canada and in the United Kingdom .

we Anticipate that we will quote the Italian cases , for the simple reason that in our Country we talk of “creators”, but not yet showrunner. How would you describe Neil Landau, in his essay Showrunner. Great stories, great series , in Italy this figure is still consolidated according to the prototype for the united states; this does not mean that the authors are gradually beginning to abandon the desk to interact directly on the set.

To discover from the experience of young workers in direction, we recommend the interview with Arianna Bochicchio and Charlie Petersson .

Back in English-speaking territories, Canada, was established an organization called The Writers Guild of Canada, whose members are writers of drama serial, film, documentaries, comedies, and variety.

The Guild, better known as WGC, was born from the ashes of the original Association of Canadian Radio Artists, founded in 1943 to establish and ensure better working conditions for the operators radio. Not hesitate sure the writers and the writers for the television to be added to this group, that in about ten years it became the Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists .

In its contemporary form, the organization gives a voice to screenwriters and canadian professionals, who have decided to establish this foundation in order to protect its interests, and strengthen and increase the prestige of the figure of the writer, and the concept of the script itself.

Even more important, the fact remains that the Guild, on behalf of its members, negotiates, administers and enforces collective agreements, setting terms and conditions of employment in the jurisdiction of the association, always and only dedicated to film products manufactured in Canada and in the English language .

Moving on, instead, “ on the other side of the pond “, i.e. the british isles, the concept of a showrunner is beginning to take hold only in the first decade of the twenty-first century . Specifically, is conceived of as the role of the writer or presenter of a product , with the overall responsibility for a television production.

The first comedy series on british use of this term was My Family, (2000-11), that he saw the head several showrunner in succession. Initially, the show was overseen by creator Fred Barron, he devoted himself to the first four seasons, followed by Ian Brown and James Hendrie took place for the fifth season, the american writer Tom Leopold for the sixth, and Tom Anderson , in his time, the former showrunner of Cheers, he was responsible for the last two seasons.

To quote a case a little more famous, we talk to Russell T. Davies , who devoted himself to the revival of Doctor Who (2005), bringing therefore the term showrunner is much more in evidence on the scene of british television, so as to sanctify him as the father of showrunning , when the newspaper The Guardian reported in 2009 that “ By this part, the concept of ‘showrunner ‘ has only arrived up in Doctor Who “).

In fact, Doctor Who remains the most important example of a television program, the British as head of a showrunner. The quote from the interview above, in fact refers to the change of command at the helm in 2o10, with the arrival of Steven Moffat until 2017, and Chris Chibnall as an additional heir to the handover. Of the rest, Davies argued in an interview that he envisioned the role of the showrunner as to establish and maintain a tone consistent in a drama, as a further validation of what we have outlined in our definition.

A concept that reinforces even more the importance of maintaining the same figure at the head of a serial product over time, especially if this goes on for several seasons and therefore need consistency and rigour in maintaining the line of a story.

we recommend that You recover the book of The new factory of dreams, and, among the titles produced by the showrunner mentioned, we recover the special edition of Doctor Who , or the entire collection of Grey's Anatomy .

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