What does a TV Director do?

Tiffany Manley

A TV director is part of a crew of individuals who develop and produce a television program. The director’s responsibilities are quite varied. Some of these include preparing for the shoot, shooting the program and reviewing the material after it has been shot.

A TV director has various duties on the set.
A TV director has various duties on the set.

Part of what a TV director does is preparing for the shoots that he or she will complete in order to produce a television program. A portion of this preparation is dedicated to the script. The director might go over the script with writers and other involved personnel to make sure everything reads well and comedic timing is right, among other things. Meeting with various individuals about the location of the shoots and who is cast in the program are other tasks completed during the preparation phase.

Directors may spend 18 to 20 hours a day on set in some cases.
Directors may spend 18 to 20 hours a day on set in some cases.

After all initial prep work is done, the TV director can focus on shooting the program. Depending on the number of locations and cast members, this might take quite a bit of time. Even though initial preparation has been put into the program, the director still must do daily prep work, which involves making sure the sets are set up properly and that lighting is correct. He or she might also do a run-through of the script with the cast. After the sets are ready, the TV director begins filming the shot.

A TV director’s day might be quite lengthy because of the length of some programs or the multitude of various locations needed for shots. Each set must be set up according to the scene for which it is being used. This includes lighting and other mechanics that a director might be in charge of doing. If a program is particularly lengthy or makes use of quite a few different scenes, the director will work to make sure everything looks just right for the look and feel he or she is going for in the program.

When all shots have been filmed for the day, the TV director will begin the process of reviewing the footage. He or she will check to make sure everything flows and that there were no mistakes. He or she also might check to make sure things such as lighting and sound are being used properly in the shot. A final portion of the day usually is devoted to informing the crew of what is in store for the next day’s shooting so everyone is prepared and ready to go on the next day of filming.

TV directors give tips about what kind of emotions they are looking for in a scene.
TV directors give tips about what kind of emotions they are looking for in a scene.

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Discussion Comments


Joss Whedon is an amazing director/writer. All of his work is awesome!


Does anyone have any favorite television directors?

This is a pretty big field, with all of our favorite shows being in the hands of these talented individuals.

My favorite TV director still has to be Joss Whedon who brought us the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), the spin-off Angel (1999-2004) and the newest series Dollhouse (2009-2010) which I just purchased, as it has a few carryover actors from the Buffy and Angel series.

I find that once you know a TV director you can find commonalities in their work that makes what they do unique. Also, I find that they love to cast certain actors and really use them to their fullest potential.


I think becoming a TV director would be an amazing career. While movies can take months to film, you could shoot new stories every week and have more room for your ideas to grow.

I did some research out of curiosity and found that you need to have a strong educational background, as well as technical know-how for this job. Of course, that does not include the experience you will need to have in order to land your first job.

Interestingly, television directors generally don't earn that much. While the hours are long and they have a lot of responsibility, unless you have a top rated show you are looking at an average salary of only between $23,980USD and $36,567USD.

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