Chris entered the film and TV industry over four years ago and has worked on award-winning productions as a development assistant.
I’ve always loved storytelling, ever since I was a child. It never occurred to me that I could get a regular job working on my passion until I came across someone working in film and TV Development. From then on I knew what I wanted my career to be.
I got an internship using the My First Job in Film website. After working hard, and trying to add value to the company, I managed to land my first permanent role.
You’ve got to really love working in film and TV, it’s got to be your absolute passion, because it will take a lot of work, energy, intelligence, entrepreneurialism and dedication to break in to the industry. If you’re only quite interested in a role in film and TV, or just think it sounds quite fun, you’ll find you’re wasting your time.
Development involves everything from the first idea for a show or film, right up to the start of pre-production, so it covers a lot: scouring books, news articles and trends for ideas or intellectual property; contacting publishers and agents to secure the rights to stories; choosing and approaching the right writers who are a good fit for a project; reading lots of screenplays and thoroughly assessing their quality and their marketability; providing copious amounts of script notes; casting; applying to film funds; contacting financiers, broadcasters, studios and Sales Agents, and generally raising finance (very difficult!); approaching directors’ agents to find out if they’re interested in a project and whether they’re available at the right time. And an enormous amount of admin, emailing, setting meetings, chasing, prompting, waiting, and failing. It can be very rewarding though.
There isn’t one most memorable moment, but working on a retelling of Peter Pan, which went on to win an International EMMY, was very rewarding, as was working on Africa’s first arthouse film noir feature film.
Most projects don’t get past the development phase, so you’ve got to be incredibly determined, and not let ‘failure’ get you down.
I would like to reach the position of Development Executive in the medium-term future.
Being honest, you have got to build relationships with people in the industry if you want to get a career going. You can either do this via internships, or by going to networking events (google is your friend here – look for media networking events, film networking events, events organised by the BFI and Creative England etc.) and by ‘cold emailing’ staff at production companies and asking for a meeting for career advice. It’s hard and it’s not that fair a system, so you have to really go for it.