Monday, April 18, 2011

Development Executives

Recently I had a meeting with a development executive for a medium-size but up-and-coming production company. Development executives are the filter that stop screenwriters leaping into production companies, running up to actual producers and shouting 'Let's do the show right here in the barn!', whilst stealing all the biscuits and trying to use the free wi-fi to look at X-rated Thundercats fanfiction.

The meeting seemed to go okay, unlike the last time I had a meeting with some development executives at a (slightly larger and more successful) production company, where we all got on very well right up until the point where they actually said 'Right, well, are there any of our shows you fancy writing for?' I hadn't really expected this, having gone in specifically to pitch a few ideas of my own, and so quickly looked around at the posters on the walls, only to realise I didn't actually like any of their shows.

'Erm,' I said, 'not really'. Instantly I felt a disturbance in the writing force, as though thousands of agents suddenly looked up and rolled their eyes. 'Hahaha that's okay, obviously!' they said, but the remaining thirty seconds of the meeting were, I remember, frosty.

Anyway, this wasn't like that, this was a good meeting, and I followed up with an email with five or six half-page concepts for series, one of which grabbed the Development Executive INSTANTLY, so that within a week, we'd set up a meeting with a major commissioner at the BBC. One nice sign that we thinking along the same lines was when we simultaneously revealed our choice of actor for the main part - only for it turn out we were thinking of the same person.

DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE: And you say you know him?
ME: (smugly) Let's just say I've written for him, and we're both on Twitter.
ME: Not really, no. But I'm going to ask him on Twitter, and let's see what happens next.

He didn't get back to me, obviously, and the BBC turned the concept down. None of which mattered that much, because Development Executive and I both realised there was enough of a hook in the concept we could muck about with it a bit and start sending it around to other places with a reasonable expectation of at least getting a treatment commissioned.

Then I got another phone call.

ME: OMG! That's awful! How does this affect MEEEEEEEEEEE!

Because development executives are like pets: they're soft and cute, make funny 'yipping' noises when they're happy, and the moment you think you're building up a long-lasting and emotionally fulfilling relationship with one, your emails get bounced back with an attachment telling you your new friend's suddenly had to go and live on a farm with lots of other development executives, where they're all very very happy together, and spend their time focus grouping outlines for comedy dramas written by a team of rabbits and voles.

What I could have done was take the outline back and start sending it to other production companies. But because MY HEART RULES MY HEAD (*makes a face like a Kray Twin*) I said the Development Executive could keep the idea and start sending it around again when she gets back on her feet. In my head it's like giving a drowning man a lifejacket. In reality, it's more like giving a drowning man a pack of tissues and saying 'There you are, these absorb water'.

I haven't heard from her since. She's probably living on a farm now.


Rebecca said...

This is one of the funniest posts ever. I laughed all the way through it, from x rated Thundercats fanfiction to "These absorb water." I'm in the U.S., so my day is just beginning. Thanks for putting me in such a good mood to face it.

And for the random phrases that will likely bring a smile to my face througout the day. "...focus grouping outlines for comedy dramas written by a team of rabbits and voles." *walks away giggling softly*

James Henry said...

Well thank you, that's very kind of you to say.

Tim F said...

Which Kray twin? This is important. Gary or Martin?

James Henry said...


Mike Booth said...

I agree with Rebecca, and logged in just to say that.

Salvadore Vincent said...

Laughed out loud at "How does this affect MEEEEEEE!"

PMG said...

Yes, indeed, a blinder. All SO true that so needed to be in capitals. Thank you.