Development 101

Posted on: Friday 02 July 2010 8:16am

A multi-discipline panel discuss how to get the development process right.

Moderator: Matt Locke, Acting Head of Cross Platform, Channel 4


Mellie Buse, Company Director, Adastra Creative

Carl Draper, Senior Development Producer , BBC Children’s Multiplatform

David Hodgson, Director, Pesky

Barbara Slade, Writer/Creator/Producer, Blue Arrow Productions

If you’re going to be successful in development you need tenacity and you have to be prepared to live on the bread line for a while. All the speakers agreed development can be a very difficult and frustrating process.

David Hodgson (Pesky) said money is a real issue. His company created the 78 part BAFTA award winning ‘Amazing Adrenalini Brothers’. He said the problem was they were so busy for three years making the series they didn’t have time to develop anything else. This meant when it finished they had to completely downsize and go into a long development phase. This seems to be a common problem.

Mellie Buse (Adastra Creative) is responsible for the very popular ‘Grandpa in my Pocket’. It took seven years to come to fruition. She said if she had one piece of advice for newcomers it’s to talk to broadcasters early on in a project and keep the initial pitch document tight. You also need love and passion for your project according to Barbara Slade (Blue Arrow Productions) who created Dead Gorgeous for CBBC.

As well as animation and drama, the session also touched on multiplatform development. Carl Draper (BBC) advised delegates to talk to the producers of a TV show as much as possible when developing content to complement the show online so that you can really understand the essence of the programme. He says language can be a problem – you have to remember that some people you are working with won’t understand your terminology.

All the speakers agreed that ideas should go back in the drawer if you don’t get anywhere with them. – if they’re good, their time will come. Sometimes all you have to do is outlive the commissioners…!