Interview: Sara Cohen, Series Development at MTV Networks
Sara Cohen works in Series Development for MTV Networks in California.
How did you get your first job at MTV?
I applied for numerous entertainment-related internships in my junior year of college and I was lucky enough to get one at MTV in Series Development in the New York City office. During that time, I worked with an executive who transferred to the Los Angeles office. She kept asking me to come to LA and intern for her there. As an LA native, I was looking forward to coming home for the summer, and was excited to gain more development experience. I really loved the department and when I finished my summer internship in the LA office, I had one semester left of college before I was on the job hunt. I kept in touch with everyone I worked with at MTV, and about a month before I graduated checked in with them to see if there were any openings. Luckily, as soon as I graduated, a VP of Series Development was looking for an assistant and I was hired to fill that spot!
What does it mean to work in development?
We are the eyes and ears of the network, and work hard to make sure that every project that airs on MTV feels unique to our brand. Working in reality series development entails taking pitches on reality television show ideas from various producers, talent, and agents, while simultaneously thinking of show ideas and helping to develop those shows into what everyone sees on television. We make sure that each project has a compelling story to tell, and a unique stylistic approach.
What does your average day look like?
Every day is completely different. I work on a number of current series and on a handful of development projects. Most of my days are filled with watching cuts of different shows I am working on and sending notes to producers, taking pitch meetings, brainstorming development ideas, and working with other departments internally to ensure everyone has the information and the tools they need to promote and launch our shows, and to keep momentum throughout each season.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Because we target a young demographic, the audience is constantly evolving. We don’t grow up, or old, with our audience. Right now, we’re catering to Millennials who have very specific tastes and evolving viewing habits. We have to be ahead of the trends and make sure that we are constantly producing new, compelling material that attracts a highly charged audience who is used to watching TV with their computers in front of them and their iPads next to them.