So you want to land a job in TV development? A job in TV development is can be a creative, lucrative and fulfilling career — and here's how you can score one!
What is television development?
Television development — it's quite an exciting career. In television development, you have a place to think creatively, develop concepts and actually bring your ideas to fruition. You can birth brand new shows to wow viewers, to make viewers think critically, to induce emotions in viewers. Television, after all, both reflects and shapes society — and you can be at the helm of that with a job in television development.
So what exactly does someone who works in television development do?
Of course, not all TV development producers will do the exact same work. They are usually employed by broadcasters, production companies and screen agencies and, depending on who employs them, their work and projects will vary.
Here are four general responsibilities of someone who works in television development, explained.
1. They find scripts with potential.
TV developers are in charge of going out to scout for potential. They find scripts that they can see manifesting into a really good show or film, and they analyze whether or not they'll be able to get them into good enough shape in order to be commissioned by a television channel or made into a feature film.
2. They take notes to develop the scripts.
TV developers have to read the scripts that they find, analyze their strengths and weaknesses and determine where the potential lies and with what audiences. They have to take detailed notes on how and where the scripts and be improved.
3. They work with the scriptwriter to get the script up to par.
TV developers have to work with the scriptwriters in order to revise and, sometimes, rewrite their scripts accordingly. This process can take up to a few years to complete at time. In fact, it can even take a decade before the script actually goes into production.
4. They pitch the scripts to television channels.
TV developments pitch scripts to television channels in order to get them produced and put on air. If they're not picked up by television channels, they can sometimes also be turned into feature films.
How to get a job in TV development
Getting a job in TV development takes time and effort, of course. It's not for the fainthearted, as the job takes a keen eye for talent, a dedication to the development process and a willingness to create something that audiences will love.
That said, here's how to get a job in TV development.
1. Watch a lot of TV!
First things first, if you want to get a job in TV development, you should know a thing or two about television. So start watching as much TV as possible! You want to see what works and what doesn't — what interests you and what doesn't. (You can check out TV ratings, as well, to compare your opinions against that of viewers worldwide!) You also want to look for voids — is there a show that you want to see that hasn't yet been made? What are the existing shows missing or dropping the ball on? Can you create that? Can you find that or work with scriptwriters to make it happen?
2. Network in the television industry.
Network, network, network! It's important to network in any industry — and this is especially true in television, where who you know can get you a long way! Because you want people to listen to your ideas and give you a shot, getting to know people in the industry and building trust with the people who you need to hear you is key. So start by attending TV development conferences, engaging in local meetups, reaching out to successful idols for informational interviews and more.
3. Apply for jobs, and reach out to employers.
Start applying to jobs and reaching out to employers — broadcasters, production companies and screen agencies. Cold call them or send them an email if you're particularly interested in working with them. If you have great ideas, you never know who might be willing to give you a chance.
What does a TV development executive do?
A TV development executive is in charge of bringing a script to the screen. To do this, they must have in-depth knowledge of screenwriting, with a deep understanding of all the features of a successful screenplay and ideas on how to improve and amend ones with potential. They must also have knowledge of the industry (and a passion for TV and film!) in order to predict what will be popular. And they must be able to communicate well so that they can explain their notes to scriptwriters and then effectively pitch scripts and ultimately persuade commissioners and producers.
Who might a development producer work with?
A development producer will generally work with executive producers, assistants, a screenwriter or scriptwriter, story producers, storyliners, script editors, script readers and development researchers. Everyone works together as a team to bring a script to the screen. Again, this process can take years. But with the help of everyone on the team, it can be creative and exciting.
What does a development researcher do?
A development researcher is in charge of figuring out what has worked well in the past, what hasn't worked out so well before, where the voids in the television market are, where the opportunities might be, what the challenges will be and more.
How do you become a television producer?
Follow the aforementioned steps to become a television producer! Start by watching a ton of TV, networking in the television industry and then reaching out to apply for jobs in television production. Of course, having a degree in a related field will also help you to land a job as a television producer — as will years of experience. You can get started by interning and working in television in lower roles to ultimately work your way up to a producer position.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.