There is a broad range of television productions and systems. Many countries have nationwide television networks, there are individually owned networks, non-commercial public broadcasting, major broadcast networks and premium cable networks such as HBO and Showtime. HBO airs in more than 151 countries. Television has expanded into content delivery platforms, both subscription based such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, as well as via second screen online resources (think of a network’s website) and online platforms such a YouTube.

It is key that you know the television system in your country and be familiar with those in other markets.

Some of the types of television programming that uses locations are news stories, documentaries, reality shows, feature movies, nature programs and some episodics.

Many weekly series productions are shot on a studio soundstage. There may be some coverage shots to get the look of a specific place, with additional shooting to double for the featured storyline location. Additional shooting may take place in the city where the studio is located.

Digital technology has changed the way that programs are shot. Take for example a segment on dinosaurs. They will definitely create the dinosaurs on a computer. That is a given. However, the production will typically want to shoot a physical location that resembles the ancient habitat of the dinosaur.

For a 2-hour segment, for example, there may be 3 weeks of shooting days to get a variety of habitat coverage. One such project required 18 different locations that would work with the digitally added dinosaurs running across fields of grass or ferns, rivers and ancient forests that resembled the flora of the time. On this particular shoot, the tallest PAs ran through rivers and fields and ferns holding 100-foot high poles that worked as reference points that would later be replaced with the dinosaurs.

A recent survey reported that the general public still likes to watch content on television that was shot on location. It looks different and is more believable.


A feature made-for-television movie may be pitched to a network source, created by studio writers, or adapted from true-life drama stories in the news.

Many networks only work with specific agencies or production companies. Others will accept pitch ideas on their website.

If someone has a pitch idea they can also contact agencies and production studios directly that work with the networks.


There are different scenarios here as well. A typical example: a script is accepted by the network and they want to move forward and begin working with the location scouts to find locations suitable for the project or offers the best incentives. This is when they will contact the film commission.

If someone has an idea for a series or reality show they may shoot a pilot on their own and then pitch it to a reputable agency who in turn would suggest it to the network.

With national networks it may work differently. Be clear how it works in your jurisdiction and know whether the format of television in your region is HD, analog, Internet TV or all of these formats.

Principal Photography

Similar to film production. The number of shooting days will vary greatly depending whether it is a reality TV show or a feature length movie or mini-series. It could literally be a 1-100 days or more.

Television photography is almost exclusively shot in HD digital. Feature film projects may be shot on 35mm film but with the high image quality with HD cameras such as the Genesis or the Red series and the fact that the completed project will end up in a digital or analog format anyway, without compromising the look of the final project.


Editing is done on computers, even if shot on film. This is also the stage when VFX are added, along with graphics, color correcting, sound design and voice overs if necessary.


This is the area that is broadening with advancing technologies. Content is delivered via broadcast, cable, satellite, IPTV (Internet protocol television) and many programs available online via download with services such as Netflix or on sites like Hulu, or via mobile devices with an app, such as HBOGO.

The cloud sites like Netflix, Mubi, UltraViolet, with or without specialty boxes or devices such as Roku are a key in movie and television distribution. This is the case for productions that are distributed directly to the Internet and those that are available following a run via another distribution system, then available for download or streaming.