How To Become a Development Assistant Producer

How To Become a Development Assistant Producer

What is a Development Assistant Producer?
Development Assistant Producers (or Development APs) are part of the team that comes up with the ideas that get transformed into TV programmes. They research and flesh out briefs given to them by the Development Producer, using their contacts and industry knowledge gleaned from several years’ experience. They have lots of ideas themselves and a nose for a good story.

What is the Job?
Development APs help condense diverse ideas into a communicable pitch. Depending on the type of programme they are developing, they may be responsible for filming and editing ‘casting tapes’, which are short interviews with potential contributors, including experts, presenters or members of the public. They may also be asked to shoot and edit a short ‘taster tape’ (also known as a ‘sizzle’) to give the commissioner a taste of the content, style and tone of the show they are hoping to get commissioned. If they are working on the development of a new quiz show, they may have to write questions and test games or rounds to see if they work.

Development Assistant Producers usually work across several projects at one time, all of which will be at a different point in their journey to our screens. They work either with independent production companies or broadcasters, and usually report to the Development Producer. On a day-to-day basis, they work most closely with the Development Researchers, brainstorming and test-driving ideas and delegating required research. They have regular contact with Producers and Executives or Heads of the department and may on occasion join commissioning meetings where new ideas are pitched to broadcasters.

Key Skills

  • Knowledge: watch and have a genuine passion for factual TV, understand the current programming landscape, and be able to identify gaps in the market and potential new trends.
  • Research: be curious, able to identify areas or people of interest and back these up with facts, figures and potential audiences.
  • Communication: able to express ideas clearly, write well and help generate proposals that really sell a programme.
  • Working to briefs: respond to requests from the Producer promptly and efficiently, listen to the demands and desires of broadcasters and audiences and ensure these are delivered in pitches.
  • Equipment and software: operate basic cameras, lights, and audio and editing packages to create casting tapes and visual references.

Salary & Working Hours
Development AP’s earn around £750-£1065 per week based on a 5 day week, although this will depend on the production budget and whether holiday pay is included.

How To Become a Development Assistant Producer
Most employers look for Development Assistant Producers who either have previous experience as Development Researchers or who have worked as a Researcher or Assistant Producer on factual productions in the past.

You can take A-levels, Highers or Level 3 vocational qualifications in English, Media Studies, Creative Digital Media and any other subject you feel passionate about that you think could give you ideas.  Apprenticeships are jobs with training and offer a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Some of the major broadcasters offer apprenticeships, so check their websites. You don’t need a degree to be a Development AP, but if you want one, don’t be afraid to follow your passion and study a subject you love. After all, you could find inspiration for a programme in any field of study.

Get to know people in the TV industry by attending events. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest in, and knowledge of, the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them.

Latest Development AP Jobs

Where Can It Take You?
The advancement and promotion opportunities for a Development AP will depend on the projects you work on and how much experience you have behind you. Building a solid portfolio and networking in the industry will help you work onto more high profile productions and ultimately become a Development Producer.

Become a Development Assistant Producer
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at our jobs board? You can view our latest Development AP vacancies here.