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Development Executive

Industries:
Film
Personality type:
Entrepreneur
Departments:
Development | Script

The lowdown

  • Finding good Screenwriters 
  • Finding good stories
  • Developing screenplays for production

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • Have in-depth knowledge of international film markets
  • Understand changing audience tastes
  • Have good contacts in the industry
  • Understand what makes a good film script
  • Be dynamic and outgoing
  • Have a passion for films and film making
  • Be excellent all-round communicators
  • Be good salespeople
  • Be good at problem solving
  • Be flexible
  • Be discreet
  • Have good creative vision

What does a Development Executive do?

Development Executives are responsible for finding and developing stories and screenplays that will make successful films. They might be for general release or festival screenings. They need to understand what makes a good film script and what will appeal to audiences.  

Their primary role is to find new talent. They have to cultivate creative relationships with many people in the industry from Screenwriters, Agents, Directors and financiers to Broadcasters, Sales Agents and Actors. Development Executives spend as much as fifty percent of their time attending Film Festivals and other industry events.

Screenplays can take years to complete, and in some cases another it might be ten years before they go into production. It’s up to the Development Executives to see the potential in a project, and oversee Screenwriters as they work up the screenplay into the best possible version. Development Executives should be able to read screenplays, analyse their strengths and weaknesses. They prepare clear Development Notes (Script Notes) to help Screenwriters address these. 

Development Executives may employ Script Readers, and additional Script Editors. If employed by an Independent Producer or Production company they also have to make sure that the company always has good projects to package, finance and produce. If necessary, they should also be able to troubleshoot story difficulties and personality conflicts. In the worst cases they might have to stop projects if they are not working out.  

Development Executives may also be responsible for raising development finance. They may help with packaging films, and securing pre-sales and distribution agreements, to raise production finance. 

All Development Executives have to be on the look out for new projects and writing talent. But their exact responsibilities depend on whether they are working for a small independent Producer, a larger production company, or a screen agency. In larger companies the work may be divided between Development Producers (or Executive Producers), Heads of Development, Development Executives and Script Developers.

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t need a specific qualification. However, most Development Executives are highly educated, creative people. If you are considering taking a film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a career in film:

Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

What’s the best route in?

You can start out as a Script Reader and then move into a Script Editor role before progressing to Development Executive. Experience in different areas of film and TV production is also useful.

Interested? Find out more…

For more information on job roles in the creative industries, take a look at Hiive's job roles.  

Websites

  • Writers' Guild of Great Britain - a trade union representing professional writers in TV, film, theatre, radio, books, poetry, animation and videogames.
  • BECTU - a trade union for media and entertainment, that provides advice and support, including a script registration service 
  • BBC Writers Room - top tips on script writing, plus opportunities and events for writers
  • European Writers' Council - the federation of 50 national and transnational organisations of professional writers and literary translators in 34 countries
  • Federation Screenwriters Europe - a network of national and regional associations, guilds and unions of writers for the screen in Europe

Publications

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