Development producers find stories and scripts and get them into good enough shape to be commissioned by a TV channel or made into a feature film.
They read screenplays, analyze their strengths and weaknesses and assess if they have potential and will appeal to audiences. They make notes on how it can be improved (script notes) and ask the scriptwriter to re-write accordingly. Development work on screenplays for film can often take a few years to complete. In some cases, it might take ten years before they go into production.
For TV drama, the role of a development producer may well also involve pitching concepts to TV commissioners. The pitch is usually a verbal presentation, though it is often supported with a treatment (a brief document summarising the idea of the programme), as well as a taster tape or sizzle reel (a short video illustrating, in the most exciting way possible, how the programme might appear).
Development producers are employed by broadcasters, production companies and screen agencies. Their responsibilities vary depending on the type of organization they work for, but wherever they work, they are on the lookout for new projects and writing talent.