Lights, Camera, Action: TV Jobs Behind the Camera

Some of your favorite stars will be walking down the red carpet soon during the Emmy Awards. Do you dream of one day entering the homes of millions of Americans in high-definition glory? Many of us fantasize about being actors or reality stars, but only a fraction of the awards handed out at the show will be given to onscreen talent. Here are some fun behind-the-scenes jobs in TV that one day could be yours:

If you have a computer with a camera and a YouTube account, you’ve likely already experimented with the most exciting part of being a cameraperson. Knowing where to point the lens in order to tell the most compelling tale is a big part of the job. But you’ll also need to know about lighting and how to create interesting visuals that tell a compelling story. Photography and art classes can help you learn about composition, but writing classes will really hone your skills on how to build a story, which is key to becoming a good cameraperson.

Casting Director and Talent Booker
Casting directors work with agents to scout and audition actors. They spend endless days auditioning hopeful men and women in order to try to find the next Zach Efron or Blake Lively. A talent booker, meanwhile, tries to convince Ellen Page that she should appear on The Late Show, finds the family with five sets of triplets to go on Tyra and sorts through thousands of emails from people around the world who think their story is Oprah-worthy. If either of these piques your interest, communication classes can certainly help, as can film history classes, which provide a foundation of knowledge about the performing arts in the twentieth century. Lastly, drama classes can give you an understanding of what the mechanics of acting are all about.

In the age of reality television, editors are more important than ever. Often, they need to take hundreds of hours of unscripted footage and figure out how to distill it down to a coherent and interesting 30-minute story. It’s a position of power since deciding what gets left out and what stays in can ultimately make or break or a show. But if you don’t like having alone time, this isn’t a career for you. This job often involves spending hours alone in a dark room staring at a screen. To study for a potential career in TV editing, it’s important to be computer savvy, most editing is done using programs like Avid and Final Cut Pro.

The screenwriter has the daunting job of starting with a black sheet of paper and turning it into a blockbuster epic with only a pen as a tool—not a job for the faint of heart. Screenwriters enter into the field from all walks of life: teaching, advertising and even acting. The skills you need are both written and visual but what you really need is a point of view. Careers in screenwriting require strong story telling skills, so work your way into that Honors English program and read everything in sight.

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