Answering the #FridayFive today is Eileen Tracey, Development Executive at Shot of Tea.
Tell us a bit about your job?
I work as the Development Executive for a production company based in London. My role is all about scripts, so I read a lot of them. We have an open submissions policy as we are keen to find new talent and underrepresented voices. Once we’ve decided to move forward with a script we like, I meet with the writer to deliver notes and work on the script until it is in a place where it can be shared with commissioners and broadcasters. For TV we also send a bible which details the series arc and characters. For film, it’s a pitch deck that goes into the style, tone and story.
The goal then is to move into production. We have a number of projects of different genres and formats at any given time, so there’s a lot of juggling. I particularly like working in comedy and horror.
What are the key ingredients for success?
At all stages in the film process, I believe that collaboration really is key. So many people end up working on a project and can bring their own strength, talent and insights. While a script begins life as one idea, you need to be open to it growing and changing. This can only be a good thing, but it is crucial to ensure everyone is making the same show or movie. You need to know when to step in and say we’ve moved too far from what makes this work.
Could you describe a normal day?
Every day is different, which is something I really enjoy. I will always read at least one script, treatment or deck, that’s a given. I work with a Development Assistant, Jem Dryer, who is fantastic and we share thoughts on new scripts and collaborate on notes for projects we’re working on.
Jem and I meet with new writers for generals in which we get to know them and what interests them, and then they pitch us what they’re currently working on. We also meet with Commissioners and Broadcasters to see what they’re looking for and whether anything on our slate would interest them.
For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?
My path to this role wasn’t very linear so I’m sure there is a much simpler way! I studied Video Art for my BA and when I moved to London I needed to pay rent so I worked as a gig photographer and marketing assistant for a cinema. There I met Film Distributors and decided I wanted to try that out. I always wanted to move into the scripted world eventually, but it felt very far away.
I worked at STUDIOCANAL and Lionsgate before deciding to do an MA with a view to move into development, writing and directing. Covid hit during the course so I set myself up as a Script Reader and Consultant. I eventually found an in-house role in Development and was quickly promoted from Development Assistant as I had built a foundation of experience in scripts. I know this isn’t very actionable advice, but I think all experience is relevant and helps you grow and learn.
What are you reading, watching and listening to now?
Right now I am reading The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel. I’d highly recommend it. I’ve just finished Succession which, as everyone knows, was fantastic. Luckily, the second series of Abbott Elementary is out now and even better than the first. I’ve been listening to ‘The Record’ by Boygenius and looking forward to seeing them at Gunnersbury Park this summer.