Development Producer (Unscripted TV)

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What does a development producer do?

Development producers’ main currency is ideas, and they are constantly on the lookout for original stories. They read papers, books and academic studies. They watch TV, go to films and exhibitions and talk to agents and broadcasters.

Informed by their knowledge of channels, audiences and other TV shows, development producers suggest presenters, celebrities or experts who could be attached to a show. They are always hunting for new on-screen 'talent' to bring fresh expertise or a new approach to programming.

Development producers are skilled at recognising the potential of someone or something. They research and put flesh on the bones of an idea, coming up with compelling new programme titles and tag lines, so it can be pitched successfully to broadcasters. They are confident at verbally selling ideas to demonstrate how a new programme could work. They write treatments (which detail all aspects of a show) often accompanied by scripts and running orders. They are experienced at creating visual material, such as short 'sizzles' or 'taster tapes' to help give a commissioner an idea of the possible tone and look of a new show. They may test-drive new shows with the team before pitching, so often organise quizzes, games and competitions in the office.

Development producers are able to spot gaps in the TV market and create or recognise new trends in programming in the UK and globally. They work across several projects at a time, all of which will be at a different point in their journey to our screens. They are employed by independent production companies or broadcasters.

What’s a development producer good at?

  • Knowledge of television: watch and have a genuine passion for unscripted TV, understand the current programming landscape, identify gaps in the market and potential new global trends
  • Ideas: always look for possibilities in people and themes, spot potential, identify the audience, and conversely see why something might not succeed
  • Communication: express ideas clearly, write well and generate proposals that really sell a programme, convey what you need from your team
  • Technical skills: create incredible-looking pitches and documents using editing software
  • Shooting and editing: operate basic cameras, lights, audio and editing packages to create 'casting tapes' and 'sizzles'

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