Finding Her Feet by Eve Ainsworth published today by Barrington Stoke
Answering the #FridayFive today is Eve Lytollis, Development Assistant Producer at Spirit Studios.
Tell us a bit about your job?
I’m a Development Assistant Producer at Spirit Studios, working across TV, digital and occasionally podcasts. In short, that means I work with our Development team to come up with ideas for new projects, shape those ideas into the best possible versions of themselves, and then pitch them to channels, talent and brands. My background is mostly within TV comedy, but the broad range of work we do at Spirit means that I get to develop across a wide range of genres and media. It’s also a role that balances creativity, writing and design with organisation and communications, which is what drew me to the development world in the first place.
What are the key ingredients for success?
In development, the broader the range of backgrounds, perspectives and tastes within your team, the better; not only do you end up with a wider range of ideas, but those ideas are made richer and more original by the diversity of voices shaping them. Also, it’s a cliché, but a strong ability to deal with rejection is key! You’ll be sending out new ideas left, right and centre, and, inevitably, not all of them will be met with a ‘yes’; being able to welcome constructive feedback and move on with your day is a huge asset.
Could you describe a normal day?
As with many creative roles, my days can vary a lot, but a typical day will usually start with a Development team meeting. In these sessions, our team members will share updates on our ongoing projects, outline the next steps in getting them ready to pitch, and discuss any new ideas we think have real potential.
The rest of my time is spent moving between the various projects I’m developing – some independently, and some collaboratively. This can involve anything from initial research to meeting with potential talent, writing up an idea to designing a shiny pitch deck, or even talking directly to a commissioner.
For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?
A year or so into studying for an entirely-unrelated degree, I realised that I wanted to work in TV – but with no contacts in the industry and no relevant training, I had no idea how to get started. Eager to start building a CV, I applied for a grant from my university, allowing me to take on a bit of unpaid work experience at a couple of production companies, which built my confidence and practical knowledge – although in hindsight, unpaid work is definitely not something I’d encourage!
My first real experience came when I was accepted onto the Network scheme at the Edinburgh TV Festival, a free week of training and events for people hoping to enter the industry. This made the world of television feel slightly less daunting and opaque, and allowed me to meet a wonderful group of people also taking their first steps into TV. Following this, I secured a place on the Brightbulb Internship scheme at Banijay (formerly EndemolShine UK), which gave me nine months of training and experience in the field of TV development. Once I completed the internship, I decided to specifically pursue roles in TV comedy, which took me from a role as the Scripted Comedy Runner at Tiger Aspect onto a period as a freelance Researcher and then Assistant Producer on various comedy-entertainment productions, until eventually, I happily landed back in development at Spirit Studios.
Getting into TV without prior connections was hard, and, to many, the industry can feel impenetrable. To anybody hoping to break in, my biggest advice is to talk to as many people as possible, and to be persistent – email companies and producers whose work you love to tell them why you love it, then see if they’ve got 15 minutes for a quick chat on Zoom. You’ll get plenty of rejections, sadly, but it only takes one ‘yes’!
What are you reading, watching and listening to right now?
I’m finally reading (and loving) Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, about the friendship between two people who create video games together. Other recent favourites include Natasha Brown’s Assembly and Christine Smallwood’s The Life of the Mind, and I’m looking forward to picking up Kevin Jared Hosein’s Hungry Ghosts next.
In terms of TV, I usually have one comedy and one drama on the go; right now, I’m enjoying the slightly odd pairing of The Last of Us with Nathan Fielder’s brilliant The Rehearsal. I’m also constantly listening to Hozier’s new EP, Eat Your Young, which is everything I’d hoped it’d be and more, and the only thing I’ll be playing until his new album later this year.