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ALSO: MIPTV PICKS ‘19 | THE MANY SHADES OF PREMIUM
MARCH + APRIL 2019 11 FIRST LOOK
Unpacking what “premium” really means; ZDFE’s Fred Burcksen talks growth and strategy; a look at Shopify Studios
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea is one of the featured stars of Epix’s premium docuseries, Punk.
FORMATS: NEW PLAYERS, NEW RULES
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THE GLOBAL 100
REALSCREEN SUMMIT IN PICTURES
How format creators and producers can navigate the new content marketplace
The ins and outs of securing access while maintaining objectivity
Our annual look at the “can’t miss” projects coming to Cannes in April
The top production companies working in non-ﬁction today, chosen with your input
Relive the “bon temps” from our ﬁrst Summit in New Orleans
58 THE FINAL CUT
Michael Cascio on the prodco executive exodus
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the chasm separating those on the left and those on the right of the sociopolitical spectrum widens and what some pundits have termed as “the culture wars” intensify, it seems that storytellers — including documentarians — are being caught in the crossﬁre. Errol Morris is one such example. While the director of such ﬁlms as Fog of War and The Thin Blue Line has run afoul of some documentary aﬁcionados and ﬁlm critics for using techniques such as dramatic recreation, with his latest, American Dharma, he has drawn ﬁre for his choice of subject — Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to U.S. President Donald Trump and former executive chairman at right-wing media org Breitbart News. I have not yet seen the ﬁlm, and at time of this writing, it still hasn’t secured U.S. distribution. But I do intend on seeing it, if only to determine for myself if it warrants the criticism it has received in various circles for letting Bannon “off the hook” for his views, as the headline of the New Yorker’s review opined, or for giving him a “platform” in the ﬁrst place. “He has a platform without me, as you well know,” Morris told Vanity Fair in an interview about the ﬁlm shortly after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. “I did something completely different: I talked to him. I talked to him trying to ﬁnd something out. “It’s important to go out there and look at stuff, think about stuff, and uncover stuff,” he added. But uncovering stuff as a documentarian or, for that matter, as a journalist is difﬁcult when you set out to immediately create an adversarial relationship between subject and interviewer. If, as some would seem to have preferred, the left-leaning Morris took the role of aggressor and relentlessly challenged Bannon throughout the ﬁlm, it might’ve resulted in some spectacular ﬁreworks, but it probably would’ve resembled the shouting matches that we are all too familiar with on cable news networks… or for that matter, some reality series. You’ll see more about the tricky balancing act that doc-makers sometimes need to undertake in order to secure access to, and create ﬁlms about, controversial ﬁgures in Selina Chignall’s feature within this issue. It is undoubtedly a ﬁne line to walk, and it might make for uncomfortable moments and provocative conversations, but if it helps those of us in the audience to get closer to understanding the real story, it’s worth it. Cheers, Barry Walsh Editor and content director Realscreen
THE “DHARMA” DILEMMA
March + April 19 Volume 22, Issue 3
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A LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
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ver the course of many years in the entertainment business, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting a number of celebrities, which has been tremendous fun. But I can truthfully say that over all this time I’ve never been star struck or too much of a fangirl. They are, after all, just people like you and I. Right? Well, that changed recently, when I was lucky enough to be in the audience for “A Conversation with Ellen DeGeneres” held in the cavernous setting of a hockey arena in Toronto. There was no VIP seating, no backstage access and I was watching her mainly on the Jumbotron, but I’ll confess that I might have lost my composure more than once. A fan of The Ellen DeGeneres Show since it first aired in 2003, she’s definitely on my “Top 5 People I’d Like to Meet” list. (The others are Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth, Bono and Oprah.) In a candid two-hour conversation with Canadian television host Dave Kelly, Ellen shared intimate details of her life including a lonely childhood as the daughter of parents deeply immersed at the time in the church of Christian Science. She described the tragic loss of her first girlfriend in a car accident and her period of grieving on a flea-infested mattress, which is where she was inspired to pen the phone call to God that she delivered on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1986. She was the first female comedian he’d interviewed, and that jump-started her career. It all led to starring in a hit sitcom and then, subsequently, losing it all when she came out as a lesbian. Crippled with depression for three years, she was rescued by writer-director Andrew Stanton, who’d penned the role of Dory in Finding Nemo with Ellen in mind and called to offer her the part, when the rest of Hollywood had written her off. The rest, as they say, is history. Ellen has gone on to win countless Emmys, People’s Choice and PGA awards, and was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. But her “Be Kind” campaigns, philanthropy, incredible wit and just plain niceness seem to far outweigh any pretense or affectation. Her perfect evening: a night at home with her wife Portia de Rossi and their pets, watching a documentary. In this time of unprecedented division and hatred fueled by misinformation and ignorance, perhaps we could all take a page out of Ellen’s book and be kind to one another.
‘Til next time, go well. Claire Macdonald VP, publisher Realscreen P.S. Full disclosure: we did send out feelers for Ellen to keynote at Realscreen Summit last year, and the feedback was that it was “a big long shot.” (Pun intended?) Perhaps someone reading this is connected, and can help make my dream come true in the not too distant future.
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By Frederick Blichert
It’s been the big buzzword for a few years now, but as more networks engage in what’s been called the “content arms race,” the deﬁnition of what makes programming “premium” is evolving. Here, producers and network execs expound on what premium is (prestige content) and what it might not always need to be (pricey).
PATHWAYS TO PREMIUM Netﬂix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo didn’t need ﬂash and fanfare to pull in viewers.
Shopify Studios spotlight
Q&A with Fred Burcksen, ZDFE
John Smithson on the next wave of UGC
he arrival of Netflix’s Tidying Up with Iggy Pop is one of the musical Marie Kondo earlier this year, and its pioneers featured in Epix’s premium subsequent success, has been an eyefour-part series, Punk. opener for viewers and for industry execs alike. Here was a home improvement show in which the host, Kondo, encouraged participants to look inward as they considered their belongings, and to ask themselves if the stuff they’d accumulated in their homes “sparked joy.” She didn’t replace those belongings, or provide lavish home renovations to store what was left. Instead she offered helpful tips and left participants to do the work of improving their lives through the art of “decluttering.” It was a rather radical concept in its simplicity. Perhaps befitting the show’s premise and its host, Tidying Up didn’t come cluttered up with major production flourishes, yet it was undeniably a massive status? Other execs point not only to the importance of cultural event. Whether you’re a Kondo acolyte or not, Tidying relevance, but specifically to the sense of event viewing. Up is textbook watercooler viewing and has tapped into the “I think the ‘eventized’ nature of programming is what zeitgeist. It can be safely considered to be, for its broadcaster, drives eyeballs,” says Rachel Brill, head of unscripted prestige programming. programming at premium cable network Epix. That means But it also challenges the industry definition of those terms. formats don’t generally fit the premium bill, since they In an increasingly crowded unscripted space, with traditional function on the premise of reproducibility. “To do premium, broadcasters and cable nets competing with SVOD services to you’re likely not doing high volume, and you’re carefully keep their slice of the pie, it’s easy for all the players in the game curating every single project, because there’s a passionate to throw terms such as “premium” around to curry favor with audience that is well defined,” she adds. networks, distributors and viewers. While Baghdady sees plenty of room to do that on a Everyone wants the next Wild Wild Country, Planet Earth or budget, Brill argues that premium content comes with a The Jinx. But what ties such titles together? What really makes premium price tag. “You need to pay for the level of quality them premium unscripted series? that premium is predicated on, in terms of Epix’s expectations. Hend Baghdady, executive producer of Tidying Up and SVP of And our expectations are that our unscripted or non-fiction production and alternative programming at The Jackal Group, narratives are going to sit well with our scripted dramas.” doesn’t think an enormous budget is necessary for an unscripted Talos Films co-president and co-founder Julian Hobbs agrees program to qualify as premium, though she acknowledges that that premium content is both expensive and designed as an money helps. Rather, the “premium” label reflects something event. “You tend to pay more for premium events,” he says. unique, or something new. “That’s not always true, but generally you pay more. It’s at “When you look at some of the docs that Nat Geo is doing, or a price point that the network almost can’t afford to have Cosmos, obviously those are very clearly premium. They’re very appear every week.” expensive shows,” she tells Realscreen. It’s tricky to pin down, but the belief that premium projects are But Tidying Up went premium in different ways. “We made very “can’t miss” recurs. “Putting any constraints around ‘premium’ deliberate decisions from the beginning to elevate the series,” she may be a mistake, but I do think it has one defining trait, which adds. “It wasn’t about bringing in the most expensive cameras.” is that... it’s a limited-run series. It’s an event. Whether it’s a oneInstead, the producers worked to hone in on its inherently unique night event, or a three-week event, you feel like you must watch elements, even as it followed certain format conventions. it, and that it’s only going to be there for a limited time,” says “There are a lot of Japanese elements in the show. Some more Hobbs, a fomer programming exec at History. obvious than others,” she says. “In Japan, and especially in And while the added expense can be aimed at higher Japanese anime and a lot of their cultural storytelling, the space production value, it can also be leveraged to promote a itself plays as a character, and so we decided very early on that premium product, especially if that’s a short-term push for because this is a show about your space, and your relationship something that won’t be coming back season after season. with the space and how that affects your spiritual well-being, we “You can maximize your ad revenue. You can maximize your were going to treat the space as a character. You’ll notice, if you PR push. You can maximize your press push,” says Hobbs. watch the show, that a lot of it plays in these very long wides. It’s All of this should foster brand engagement, he adds: “If it’s not a ‘cutty’ show. That is something that costs us nothing.” done right, it’s hugely brand-enhancing.” Hobbs’ focus on Of course, the show also tapped into a national — and brand also opens up the definition of “premium” to networks international — movement towards minimalism. Beyond a sense and projects that might not be immediately considered as of originality, what can contribute to a program’s premium such. “I’ve coined this term, ‘populist premium,’” he says. “You
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MOVERSSHAKERSBUYERSMAKERS can have a big, noisy event that’s on brand, that’s informational and entertaining, and... award winning. All of that can come together if people want to lean into their core brand.” If that doesn’t offer a clearcut deﬁnition or help you come up with the next buzz-worthy unscripted event, that’s probably because there is no premium silver bullet. There’s no one-size-ﬁts-all model. A relatively inexpensive project such as Tidying Up or Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly might spark collective joy — or long overdue discussions with
And Nowhere Else is a series of documentary shorts from Shopify Studios.
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Whether it’s a one-night event, or a three-week event, you feel like you must watch it, and it’s only going to be there for a limited time.” deep cultural resonance. Either can have profound impact for broadcasters. Then again, an expensive, brand-afﬁrming project such as BBC’s upcoming, and sure to be lavish, natural history docuseries One Planet: Seven Worlds is a near certain home run. It appears that, when playing in the premium sandbox, there’s plenty of wiggle room. 014
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In its own words: “Shopify Studios will leverage strategic partnerships with internationally known creators and production partners to develop, produce, and ﬁnance an array of projects spotlighting entrepreneurship — from long-form series to feature documentaries and more — for streaming platforms and traditional networks.”
Here, Realscreen shines a spotlight on emerging buyers and creators in the unscripted and nonﬁction entertainment space. By Frederick Blichert Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify made a bold move into media production with the announcement of Shopify Studios last January — a full-service production house based in Toronto. With an in-house team of about 35, Shopify Studios is wholly producing some content internally for its own channels on YouTube and Facebook, but is keen to embrace copro possibilities for bigger projects. “For the longer form, whether it’s documentary or even scripted, we wouldn’t do that in-house. That would be with partners,” Jason Badal, head of Shopify Studios, tells Realscreen. The company has already partnered with other prodcos including Anonymous Content, Wheelhouse Entertainment’s Spoke Studios and Saville Productions, with project announcements to come. While entrepreneurship is at the core of the stories Shopify Studios is telling, Badal stresses that there’s no standard way to be an entrepreneur, and the company’s mandate is not to sanitize the concept or just to boost brands. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, and that is what Shopify Studios wants to highlight. “We don’t want to make entrepreneurship seem easier
than it is, or gloss over the facts. We think that it has an impact on communities. We think that the details matter,” Badal says. “Those are our most important principles.” What that means in practice is that viewers won’t see winnertake-all game shows that fasttrack success. Instead, series and ﬁlms will look at real stories of entrepreneurs — be they retailers, distributors or craftspeople — making it work on their own terms. Shopify Studios is open to various approaches and formats that ﬁt this mentality, and creators looking to pitch projects can ﬁnd contact information and guidelines at ShopifyStudios.com. The studio also comes with a huge roster of high proﬁle contacts in the worlds of entrepreneurship and business, including Kylie Jenner, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Drake, Nestlé and Allbirds, who all use Shopify’s e-commerce technology. “It’s an unfair advantage we have over the traditional media space, in that we have so many merchants on our platform, and we think that allows us to see which merchants have really interesting stories,” says Badal. “We interact with them all the time, and we have insight into what they’re doing.” Frederick Blichert
FRED BURCKSEN ZDF ENTERPRISES
ublic broadcasters have often been at the forefront in offering to their audiences provocative and unique content that might otherwise never see the light of day. Continuing this tradition is ZDF Enterprises, the commercial arm of German pubcaster ZDF. Following last year’s merger of its entertainment and factual divisions into ZDFE.unscripted, overseen by Ralf Rückauer, the international content distributor, buyer and coproducer recently acquired Ellen Windemuth’s Dutch non-ﬁction production/ distribution company Off The Fence, with Rückauer now serving as co-CEO of the company with Windemuth. Realscreen reached out to ZDFE CEO and president Fred Burcksen to learn more about what’s on the table for the company in the months ahead, and his take on the trends shaping the international nonﬁction content market.
How does the acquisition of Off The Fence (OTF) ﬁt into ZDFE’s strategy going forward? What was the impetus for that move? With the acquisition of OTF, we wanted to increase our sales power and global sales presence within the unscripted industry. Also, OTF has a very effective and boutique-style production entity in Bristol that fits very well within our portfolio of production companies. Furthermore, OTF and ZDFE.unscripted share the same vision when it comes to the future importance of local and global VOD platforms that are focusing on factual and unscripted content. We have worked with OTF and Ellen Windemuth and her team for two decades and have always admired their vision and achievement. In our discussions with Ellen, both sides were convinced that teaming up would help us create a stronger market position and an opportunity for new synergies.
Coproduction has been an integral part of ZDFE’s business. How do you see the copro world evolving for factual content? Yes, ZDFE.unscripted has always been investing not only in the output from our network, ZDF, but also in good content from third parties, thus creating a strong market presence and catalog. With the new platform players, new challenges and opportunities have arisen. But the business model remains the same: if you want to produce something you will need to get it ﬁnanced, whereby the one who contributes the biggest share of the budget will have the biggest say.
What are the challenges in working with non-linear platforms as a distributor? We embrace the opportunities and chances that we are being provided with by the entry of VOD platforms to the market. Depending on the scope of rights that the respective platform acquires, the volume of remaining distribution rights might reduce.
ZDF is working with numerous European broadcasters on funding premium scripted content, to rival that coming from such major SVOD services as Netﬂix. Similarly, do you see ZDF Enterprises developing its own SVOD or partnering on a panEuro streamer? ZDFE.unscripted has already launched various factual channels — for instance, on Amazon and the German telecom platform Magenta TV. More channels will be launched during the course of the year. At the same time, and together with OTF, we are considering the strategic option to launch our own VOD platform.
What can you tell us about ZDFE’s growth strategy for 2019, and looking forward to 2020? As with each year we are looking to increase our turnover from distribution content and our proﬁt accordingly. As far as our production companies are concerned, we feel that with our portfolio we are positioned very well. We will therefore not be actively looking for new acquisition opportunities, but if an interesting opportunity pops up we will, of course, look into that. Selina Chignall
POINTED ARROW A PRODUCER’S PERSPECTIVE 016
By John Smithson
rchive has always been a key component of non-scripted shows. But several years back it did feel that it was increasingly becoming obsolete, tainted by overuse in boring and predictable films, and stereotyped by a repetitive and irritating editing grammar in which well-worn imagery seemed plonked together. In so many cases, the jumpy, flickering, black and white images — from the trenches of WW1 to B52s in the skies over Vietnam — had been seen a thousand times before. The demise of archive felt even more likely when everyone fell in love with re-creation. “Re-cre” can really take you into the heart of the story. It feels active and immersive. Now we could all create complex scenes with actors, props and fancy grips gear. I’ve done my fair share. But trying to create a “big drama look” with an embarrassingly small budget, stand-in locations and some B-list actors has its challenges. Still, lots of networks wanted such programs, the budgets were better and everyone wanted to make them. In retrospect the re-cre revolution was a damp squib. Sure, there is still a fair amount around, but considerably less than a few years ago. The appetite for archive survived the challenge to its supremacy. But then something happened that changed everything… A third of all people on this planet own a device that takes increasingly high quality video — and we have them with us all the time. If anything remotely interesting happens, you can be sure it will have been filmed on one of these estimated 2.5 billion smartphones. UGC is an ugly acronym but in the last 15 years, user-generated content has transformed what we do. Whatever the story, you can be sure that — somewhere — there is some brilliant, in-themoment archive. It may be rough, shaky and shot in the wrong aspect ratio, but it’s addictive and real, and nothing beats that. Thus, UGC is everywhere, across all genres, and directors and editors are getting so much smarter about how archive
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is used. The big change is in letting it run long — no more choppy cutting. The less that gets cut, the more powerful archive seems to be. The impact of SVOD is a big factor. When you have a six-hour series for one of the streamers, you have the time to let the archive breathe. And that’s what audiences clearly want, as shown by landmark projects such as OJ: Made in America and Wild, Wild Country. Wearable camera technology is creating lots of excitement and has fantastic potential. If a body cam is strapped to a cop or a soldier, and you wait long enough, you are going to get a story. Production companies (Arrow included) are aware what a rich seam of material this could be. The vast majority of UGC will never make it to the mainstream. But watching a cop’s POV as they confront a guy with a gun can be TV gold. It takes you so much into the moment that it is both scary and irresistible. Still, as with our historical use of archive and re-cre, we have to be careful with our new-found tech friend. Body cams may be increasingly
User-generated content has transformed what we do. It may be rough, shaky and shot in the wrong aspect ratio, but it’s addictive and real, and nothing beats that.” commonplace across many occupations, but that doesn’t mean we need to utilize them all. On a recent rail journey I noticed that even the train attendant was wearing a camera. Even though TrainGuardCam is unlikely to be the next winning format, UGC in all its forms provides us all with a rich array of archive, the likes of which we have never seen before. And for that it should be celebrated. John Smithson is creative director of Arrow Pictures, a new feature and high-end factual label created out of Arrow, the leading indie which he co-founded in 2011.
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The best West Coast event for meeting the premier buyers and producers in the unscripted genre - from TV to digital, from reality to documentary, this is truly the place to connect with those in the know... and those that can buy your projects! - Daysun Perkins Spectrum
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President, Alternative Programming & Development Fremantle
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KEYNOTE ANNOUNCED! We are happy to announce that Joe Berlinger, director of the Netﬂix docuseries Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and the narrative feature Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, will be featured in a keynote conversation at Realscreen West!
In an increasingly competitive market, broadcasters are keen to land hot properties such as Endemol Shine Group’s All Together Now.
By Daniele Alcinii
hile non-ﬁction formats continue to make waves across the global entertainment landscape, they’re also experiencing a rebirth of sorts since the entrance of digital players into the unscripted market. Subscription video on demand services (SVODs) have taken note of the increasing appetite for unscripted formats, realizing that this is a way for them to quickly achieve a high volume of very watchable, binge-worthy and contemporary content. “The production period is faster, the investment is lower and therefore so is the risk,” Lucas Green, head of content at Banijay Group, tells Realscreen. “We don’t know a huge amount about the ratings, but we suspect it compares favorably for every dollar spent.” SVOD behemoth Netﬂix, for example, has led the ﬁeld by swinging for the fences as often as possible since launching its unscripted strategy in earnest two years ago. In that time, the service has debuted acclaimed rebooted makeover series Queer Eye, decluttering lifestyle program Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and comedic culinary hit Nailed It!. Those three programs, among other formats, account for substantial portions of the Los Gatos, California-based company’s unscripted view share on the platform. In Q4 2018, Netﬂix reported that its annual revenue had surged 35% to US$16 billion on the back of 139 million paying memberships. The quarter also saw the streamer outperforming its subscriber growth estimates of 7.6 million with 8.8 million new members
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With major global SVOD services moving further into the unscripted space, producers and format creators are weighing the pros and cons of playing by the new rules of the game. But recent successes prove that linear can still pack a powerful punch in launching a global hit.
Langenberg FORMAT FOCUS
(1.5 million in the U.S. and 7.3 million internationally). Amazon, for its part, drove out of the gate early when it landed British auto series The Grand Tour, from the touted team behind the BBC’s Top Gear, in 2016; and Facebook’s Watch platform most recently partnered with MTV Studios and Bunim/Murray to develop three reimagined and localized adaptations of the renowned reality series The Real World for the U.S., Mexico and Thailand. But as new regional VOD players and powerful global platforms seemingly enter the marketplace every few months, the global formats industry sees itself in the midst of transformation. As it stands, what SVODs are looking for and what they commission varies from territory to territory. Until very recently, Netflix — and to a similar extent Amazon — had its global-facing executives based in Los Angeles. It’s a fast-changing environment, however, as the likes of Netflix, Facebook and now Amazon have taken steps to build out their foreign unscripted departments, recruiting international veterans of the genre to develop a more sophisticated commissioning strategy with a focus on localized commissions and distinctive regional acquisitions. “The challenge for prodcos is how to engage with global clients, many of whom are still predominantly based in LA and focused on English-language content,” Green says. “However, Netflix in particular is developing its European base and Amazon is not too far behind. “For global groups such as Banijay, it helps to have a broad international base with a consistent level of strong creatives in all the key territories, as this allows us to pitch local ideas globally, knowing that if a multi-territory deal comes off, we have the local partners to capitalize on it.” “At the moment, we’re still trying to figure out who we should be pitching to and what exactly they’re looking for,” explains Ana Langenberg, SVP of format sales and production at NBCUniversal International Formats. “We’re trying to establish those relationships in the various territories, and trying to understand what it is exactly that they’re after.” While original productions remain their primary focus, streaming services are beginning to take a look at older and proven content ideas. As Langenberg explains it, platforms are currently in search of programs that “have aired on free-to-air longer than three years ago” in an effort to reestablish those timeworn formats into new brands on their services. But for producers accustomed to retaining and exploiting their format IP and rights internationally, making deals in an SVOD-rich landscape means maneuvering through an ever-fluid negotiation process. It also means understanding that how the industry defines a “successful travelling format” has changed dramatically, with deals now more likely to consist of a large initial order, straightto-series and in volume in a handful of key territories. And history has shown that producers typically benefit from the straight-to-series orders, as they often provide
At the moment, we’re still trying to figure out who we should be pitching to and what exactly they’re looking for.” very competitive budgets and payment schedules. What streamers offer program makers then is a higher level of creative control free of commercial pressures, global exposure and access to an audience that has become increasingly difficult to reach in the more traditional linear broadcast space. “The big loss is obviously the rights ownership position and, with it, that tail end exploitation,” explains Harry Gamsu, VP of non-scripted at Red Arrow Studios International. “It’s that tail end rights revenue and the effects that can have on the business further down the line.” “It’s arguably a tougher shift for UK producers as the British terms of trade have always been much more favorable than in the U.S., where networks have taken a bigger share of rights,” Banijay’s Green adds. “Global rights deals might prove a particular challenge to the UK industry, which has been an unscripted format powerhouse for many years.” Therefore, it’s about developing and building an incredibly diverse content portfolio that can work well for the SVOD players. Format creators also benefit, Gamsu stresses, from having series that “play on various 021
Perrin Green Gamsu
other platforms where they are able to maintain a rights position” and, in the long run, have revenue coming in from those properties. “We now have to realize that we share the IP or we don’t have the IP in perpetuity, and that’s just a mindset that people have to adopt and accept,” says Lisa Perrin, CEO of creative networks at Endemol Shine Group. While the frequent, panic-ridden refrain at industry conferences and markets is that traditional media is dead or dying, Endemol Shine’s Perrin maintains that linear format deals with broadcast partners are alive and well. Reason being: the entrance of SVOD players into the global formats market may prompt traditional broadcasters to become more competitive in their negotiations, while embracing co-financing collaborations and second window opportunities. Endemol Shine talent entertainment format All Together Now has now been localized in 12 territories following its premiere in January 2018 on the BBC, proving that engaging programs can still sell quickly to multiple territories around the world. “It definitely happens less and less, but it’s still possible,” Perrin admits. “I do think the days of moving so quickly with The Voice or MasterChef — those are going to be rarer and rarer. “Linear broadcasters still want good ideas and are prepared to take more risks because they know they’re in a marketplace which is incredibly aggressive right now.” Traditionally speaking, a normal format fee per individual territory varies between 5% and 10% with the possibility of receiving a share of the producer’s fees, explains Ed Louwerse, co-founder of Amsterdamheadquartered boutique distributor Lineup Industries. With an SVOD platform, however, creators typically want
Linear broadcasters still want good ideas and are prepared to take more risks because they know they’re in an increasingly aggressive marketplace.”
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to be compensated for all of the other territories, as the deal is most often a rights buyout. “We need to figure out a good model because the format license fee is paid for one territory, but you also want to have an international fee,” he says. “That international fee makes sense in order to compete with the more classic route. “We’re a small player, but I’ve worked at strong studios as well so we know what the value is of a piece of IP and that just needs to translate into deals. That’s a constant battle.” Like other smaller industry players, Lineup prefers to concentrate its attention on the country-specific broadcasters and producers playing in the traditional space, as the deal will be more lucrative in the end. “If you do simple math, if I [sell] to a handful of countries in Europe, I will get more than [with] an SVOD deal,” says Louwerse. “I’d rather have a few more local versions than one big SVOD deal because of simple economics. It means more income for our IP. “It’s easier for us and thus far proven to be more lucrative, but I’m not saying that it won’t change.”
OPPORTUNITY IN AUTHENTICITY Capturing the attention (and eyeballs) of digital natives might be a challenge for some content creators, but not Amsterdambased Insight TV. “Generation-Z and millennials are impacting the consumer landscape in a way we’ve not seen with previous generations,” observes Rian Bester, CEO of Amsterdam-based Insight TV. “Instead of relying on traditional, direct brand advertising to The show sees global foodies — including U.S. food blogger inform their purchasing decisions, they’re much more likely to Julie Nolke (Feeling Peckish) — travel through stunning locations in turn to social media to gauge the reaction of their peers and the South America, Europe, Asia and Africa with an animal in tow. (Think influencers they follow.” goat, alpaca, sheep, donkey or pig.) By placing foodies in close Authenticity, notes Bester, is now critical currency. contact with animals that are destined to be slaughtered — and by Trustworthy brands with inherently strong values have the handing them the ultimate power to intervene or prevent the animal’s advantage. That’s certainly true when it comes to the content death — Insight TV created a platform on which the circumstances consumers are watching online and on TV – and that, in turn, is of the animal’s fate can be explored. It examines the perspectives impacting the way in which that content is being produced. More of local culture and the global meat industry, while keeping the so than ever, it’s all about capturing honest life conversation on an individual, emotional level. experiences in the most transparent ways. Once the programs are created, then it’s Travel with a Goat “I think we really understand this audience,” down to distribution. Logically, when you’re says Bester. “We really strive to provide unique targeting consumers who want authentic inraised eyebrows and authentic storytelling through interesting, the-moment experiences, it makes sense to around the world relatable, creative content – content that we’re go mobile and digital — and that’s definitely by asking a simple able to distribute anytime, anywhere, via any been Insight TV’s approach. question: ‘Freedom device. We make shows that highlight global, “To ensure that millennials and Gen-Z topical issues and trends we think these can access our content globally, using or feast, what demographics will relate to strongly.” simple-to-navigate app-based technology, would you do?’ Insight TV has demonstrated that we’ve partnered with consumer electronics philosophy through partnerships with companies such as Samsung and LG such brands as Monster Energy, which allow it to push Electronics,” says Bester. “We recently launched a sophisticated creative boundaries in terms of unique content, locations and Windows Store Application built on the latest eighth generation Intel situations. You can see that in Insight TV shows such as Road Core processors, which allows users to stream Insight TV content to Gymkhana GRiD, which follows eight world-class drivers on all Universal Windows Platform (UWP) devices. as they journey to South Africa and compete in Ken Block’s “Our linear channel is available in the U.S. on Samsung’s TV Plus notorious drifting competition. Bester says the magic comes linear live streaming service and our UHD channel is available on through weaving intimate stories of global influencers with the RCN’s digital TV service and on Layer3 TV. “We also distribute content drama of intense competition. in UHD and HD on more than 40 broadcast platforms globally.” “Our programs are provocative in nature, and often spark And, he notes, on digital platforms that are more often known for interesting debate among our viewers,” he notes. “In January, our their quick-and-dirty video production styles, Insight has prioritized latest series, Travel with a Goat, raised eyebrows around the world viewing quality up to top-quality UHD and HDR. by asking a simple question: ‘Freedom or feast, what would you “Maintaining a high production standard is important to us,” says do?’” (In its ‘Monday Best TV’ column, the UK’s Telegraph called Bester. “That’s why we create all our content in UHD and HDR. We want it “a grime-caked travelogue confronting the ethics of eating meat.”) to give viewers an amazing experience, both editorially and visually.”
At a time when potential subjects are all too aware of how to manipulate or maintain their public image, how can doc-makers gain the access they need to tell the real story? And how can they bridge the gap between their own personal POV and the pursuit of objectivity? By Selina Chignall
GETTING THE FULL PICTURE Roger Stone, subject of the acclaimed Get Me Roger Stone, is one of the polarizing characters featured in recent access docs
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eacons of power across culture, media, politics and business keep the news cycle buzzing with intrigue and scandal and, in turn, foster a public desire to know more about the politicos and inﬂuencers who shape our world. When documentary ﬁlmmakers are granted access to these titans of inﬂuence, there is always a question of how to then maintain a sense of fairness or objectivity while getting to peek behind the curtain. The directorial team behind 2017’s Get Me Roger Stone spent ﬁve-and-a-half years documenting the life and times of self-described Republican “trickster,” political operative and long-time Donald Trump supporter, Roger Stone. The ﬁlm follows the rise, fall and rebirth of Stone’s career, spanning the heady days of the 1974 Watergate scandal to the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Stone was arrested earlier this year by the FBI and was indicted by Robert Mueller’s special counsel in connection to alleged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. Stone was charged with seven counts, including witness tampering, obstruction and false statements. Director Daniel DiMauro says ﬁlming someone like Stone, who is extremely conscious of his public image, is much harder than following someone who is not in the limelight, and that his team had to work that much harder to remove the man from the myth — and his own self-mythologizing — in its efforts to “get” the real Roger Stone. “I think in a lot of ways it makes it more difﬁcult when you have someone who is so aware and such a sculptor of their own public image,” DiMauro tells Realscreen. In the opinion of Dylan Bank, who codirected Get Me Roger Stone with DiMauro and Morgan Pehme, pure objectivity in documentary ﬁlmmaking is a myth unto itself, as there is often an overload of information that has to be manipulated in order to complete a project. However, Bank says the team made sure that while their perspective was clear in the ﬁlm, the information provided was always accurate. “We made that clear so that the people who were watching the ﬁlm — and even Roger — were aware of our bias so they could understand where we were coming from,” notes Bank. “I don’t want to say we weren’t objective making the ﬁlm, but as a creative ﬁlmmaker, I know the
basic facts of the way you convey information — there is no such thing as pure objectivity.” Still, in the current era of “fake news” it’s especially important for directors to challenge their own biases and assumptions that they bring to their work, says Andrew Rossi. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in The First Day in May to the New York Times in Page One: Inside the New York Times, Rossi has spent years documenting the inner worlds of those shaping our cultural zeitgeist. Rossi tells Realscreen that on a daily basis he reﬂects on his worldviews and how they might need to be revised to be more empathetic and accountable. However, he says that docmakers should not eschew having a POV, even if documentary is being hailed as the “new journalism” in some quarters. “While it’s helpful for everyone to double down on checks and balances to make sure our work is accurate, it’s also important for people to have a position and to stake a claim on work and storytelling that does not fear to call people out when it has to,” Rossi says. Alison Klayman helmed this year’s vérité documentary The Brink, which follows former White House chief of staff and former executive chairman of right-wing media org Breitbart News, Steve Bannon. She says her 13 months of maintaining fairness with her ﬁrebrand subject over the course of ﬁlming proved to be a daily challenge. “My job was to be professional and to get in the room and rolling as much as I could,” Klayman says. “It was hard for me and it was unpleasant.” Despite the conﬂicting worldviews between director and subject, which Klayman says she did not hide during the process, she maintains treating subjects fairly might mean biting your tongue. It’s difﬁcult, but important. “I think it only strengthens the integrity of the piece you are ultimately hoping will stand on its own. In the case of someone you don’t agree with, it might even stand on its own and stand up to what they stand for,” she maintains. But getting access also requires a discussion about what it will include. Klayman says she knew the project would only work if she had full creative control and if Bannon was willing to allow her enough access with that in mind. Although Bannon had no creative control, he did have 025
Controversial media ﬁgure Steve Bannon has been featured in two recent docs including Alison Klayman’s The Brink.
Andrew Rossi has helmed several access docs, including The First Day in May (pictured) and 2014’s Ivory Tower (bottom),
say over the access Klayman was able to receive. The director says she had constant discussions with Bannon’s team about when and what she could film. However, it’s typical of the experiences she’s had shooting vérité documentary. “I tried to make the audience aware of both the limits of my access, and also to show that I understand that my access is limited in the ﬁlm. A couple of times in the ﬁlm I’m politely but basically told to leave,” she says. When approaching a person or an institution, Rossi says he tries to think holistically about the multiple sides of what a person is doing or the position they are in; whether that involves depicting certain policy decisions at The New York Times, or concerns of cultural appropriation when Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and the head curator of The Metropolitan Museum of Art worked on a costume exhibition about Chinese inﬂuence on Western fashion. “I’m always trying to ask [the subjects] to respond and confront some of the broader or more speciﬁc challenges to their assumptions and to their philosophies,” says Rossi. “I think it’s a way to respect what they are doing and gives them the opportunity to respond.” The directors interviewed for this story say they were unwilling to give their subjects creative control in exchange for access. However, Rossi acknowledges that if someone asked to have something “off the record”, like most journalists, he would respect the request. Both Klayman and the team behind Get Me Roger Stone noted that they weren’t sure why their controversial subjects gave the greenlight to their projects, but there is a sense that both Bannon and Stone share the mindset that “all press is good press.” To that end, doc-makers also need to consider how their projects and their treatments of such polarizing ﬁgures will be viewed, even by those who might share similar beliefs and value systems. Errol Morris faced 026
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harsh rebukes from left-leaning ﬁlmgoers and critics alike for his feature-length interview with Bannon, American Dharma. While Morris maintained in press interviews that his aim wasn’t to provide a platform for Bannon’s doctrine — indeed, the director and subject argue repeatedly over the course of the interview — the notion of even involving Bannon in a comprehensive exchange seemed to be problematic for many. “I don’t hold people’s feet to the ﬁre,” Morris told The Boston Globe this past January in an interview discussing the ﬁlm, which, at press time, is still without a U.S. distributor. “I want to ﬁnd out something I don’t already know.” For his part, Bank says his team was prepared for potential criticism from the public regarding giving a charismatic if controversial ﬁgure such as Stone a platform for his views. The director maintains that Stone was an effective behind-the-scenes operative decades before he and his co-directors approached him for the ﬁlm. “We wanted to expose and to demonstrate to the world, both what he was doing and what he had been doing,” says Bank. “Our idea behind it was to show him but never lionize him, and show how he uses his propaganda and what the effect is.” So what do these often controversial and powerful people think about the projects once they are released to the wider world? According to Bank, Stone praised the movie because the “star was so handsome and well-dressed.” (With ﬁles from Barry Walsh)
HOW REDESIGNING YOUR HOME CAN TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE
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MIPTV PICKS 2019
The Bit Player
BEST IN SHOW
rom naked mole rats to American and Russian presidents, this year’s assortment of MIPTV Picks has something for every discerning factual buyer. Once again, our call for entries brought in scores of projects from across the non-ﬁction spectrum, with a noticeable uptick in family-friendly formats and, on the other side of the coin, examinations of the environmental crisis created by our use of plastics, most likely spurred on by the troubling revelations in Blue Planet II. And for whatever reason, volcanoes seem to be hot this year, pardon the pun. Congrats to our Best in Show, and for the rest of our picks, read on.
Through his paper published in 1948, “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”, mathematician/engineer/cryptographer Claude Shannon cemented his status as the “father of information theory” by introducing the world to the “bit”, which Shannon deﬁned as “a unit for measuring information.” The impact would be incredibly far reaching — as author James Gleick frames it in The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, “It led to compact discs and fax machines, computers and cyberspace, Moore’s law and all the world’s Silicon Alleys.” Yet, Shannon remains relatively obscure compared to other great minds such as Einstein or Turing. This doc, directed by Mark Levinson (Particle Fever) aims to do its part to correct that, collecting interviews with various leading scientists as well as compelling commentary from Shannon himself. Next time you sneak a glance at your smartphone, give a nod to this enigmatic, inspiring thinker.
Partners: Mark Levinson & The Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers Incorporated (IEEE); distributed by Off the Fence Length: 1 x 90 minutes Rights available: All rights worldwide
System Shock: How the MP3 Changed Music
Presidents at War
Just in time for the 20th anniversary of the launch of Napster, this doc tracks the rise of what came to be known as a giant killer — the MP3 ﬁle format. In 1995, a German PhD student discovered a way to compress audio without losing ﬁdelity (although some vinyl aﬁcionados may take issue with that assertion), and as word spread among tech geeks the world over, so too did the use, and sharing, of MP3s. Meanwhile, the global music industry, seemingly unaware of a ﬂedgling digital music business developing under its radar, made several attempts at stufﬁng the genie back in the bottle, to no avail. This ﬁlm is an enlightening document of the tornado that leveled an industry while simultaneously creating a new one.
John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon are among the American presidents who have served their country’s armed forces, and whose time in the Oval Ofﬁce was undoubtedly shaped by that experience. This series from Three Identical Strangers prodco Raw TV marries rare archive with gripping and innovative dramatic recreation to examine how each Commander in Chief fared during their service time, and how experiencing war in that capacity turned them into the leaders they became.
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Partners: Bloomberg; distributed by TVF International Length: 1 x 74 minutes; 1 x 50 minutes Premiering: TBD Rights available: All rights excluding In-ﬂight & Shipping and clip rights in all territories excluding U.S.
Partners: Raw TV for History; distributed by A+E Networks Length: 2 x 120 minutes Premiered: February 2019 Rights available: All rights worldwide
Meeting Gorbachev Mikhail Gorbachev, the architect of such massive Soviet political reform movements as glasnost (meaning “openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) is frequently hailed as the man who ended the Cold War. Still, in his home country, he is often regarded as the instigator of the demise of Soviet Russia. This feature, helmed by Werner Herzog and Andre Singer, sees the 87-year-old engage in a series of interviews with fellow iconoclast Herzog, in which they discuss the tumultuous period that transformed Russia and the world, and its ultimate impact on history and upon Gorbachev, the politician and the person.
Planet of Volcanoes Partners: Spring Films, History Films; distributed by Dogwoof (international) and The Orchard (U.S.); broadcast on History, Arte, MDR Length: 1 x 90 minutes Premiered: September 2018 (Telluride) Rights available: World excluding U.S., UK, Germany, France, Italy, CIS, Russia
Partners: True to Nature in association with ZDF Enterprises, Thirteen Productions for WNET, ZDF and Arte; distributed by ZDF Enterprises Length: 1 x 50 minutes Premiered: February 2019 (U.S. premiere, PBS) Rights available: Worldwide except U.S. and Germany
How the Other Kids Live
The Green Book: Guide to Freedom While the narrative feature based in part on the true story of Victor H. Green’s Negro Motorist Green Book may be garnering both awards (including a best picture Oscar) and controversy, the story itself, of how Green created a travel guide for African Americans during a time of pronounced institutionalized racism in the U.S., deserves to be told. This documentary from Yoruba Richen uses home movie archive footage and interviews with descendants of Green Book users to illustrate how important Victor Green’s guide was for those hoping to safely see, and enjoy, their country in the midst of segregation.
Volcanoes are seen by many of us as rare displays of nature at its most violent. In truth, volcanic eruptions are relatively frequent, with 30 happening around the world on any given day, and while the power unleashed by them is destructive, it is also part of the process through which life on Earth is nourished and flourishes. This film follows biologist Jena Kallmeyer as he and his team head to one of the planet’s most active lava lakes in search of rock samples that may shed light on how some life forms, dubbed “extremophiles”, can adapt to the most inhospitable conditions. Their findings could reveal more about the origins of life on Earth, and the possibilities for life on other planets.
Partners: Impossible Factual for Smithsonian Channel; distributed by Off the Fence Length: 1 x 60 minutes Premiered: February 2019 (Smithsonian Channel) Rights available: Worldwide excluding North America
In the wake of several family-friendly factual programs racking up strong ratings in the UK (The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds and Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds among them), this three-part series for Channel 4 also mines the innocence and unpredictability of children for moments that are both heart tugging and eye opening. The premise is a common unscripted trope: place people in an unfamiliar environment and see how they fare, and what they learn about themselves and others in the process. In this case the participants in the social experiment are young children, embarking on play dates with kids from other cultures and societal backgrounds. This trend of light and lifeaffirming fact ent is scoring with audiences and critics — The Guardian’s Stuart Heritage raved, “It’s like taking a warm bath.”
Partners: Firecracker Films for Channel 4; distributed by Passion Distribution Length: 3 x 60 minutes Premiered: February 2019 (Channel 4) Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK
Looking for Rembrandt
The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution Directed by Maya Gallus, this doc peeks behind the curtain, or behind the door of the restaurant kitchen, to depict the realities of life and work for female chefs. While the culinary world is known for long hours and short fuses (hello, Gordon Ramsay), the recent swelling tide of activism against abuses in the workplace and for gender parity is impacting the restaurant scene as well, at long last. Here, you’ll meet several pioneers and next generation female chefs who are on the forefront of cooking up change for the restaurant industry.
Partners: Red Queen Productions with funding from TVO, documentary Channel, Canada Media Fund, Rogers Documentary Fund, Ted Rogers Hot Docs Fund; sales agent: Metfilm Length: 1 x 72 minutes Premiered: April 2018 Rights available: Worldwide, excluding North America, Spain, Israel, Poland, Sweden
2019 marks the 350th anniversary of the death of revered Dutch painter Rembrandt. Thus, the BBC and Matchlight Films in the UK have teamed for this three-part series, which attempts to unravel some of the mystery behind this most enigmatic of artists. Although he found success in his 30s, by the time of his death at 63, he was so destitute that he was buried in an unmarked grave. Utilizing a cast that runs the gamut from art collectors and restorers, to insolvency lawyers and graffiti artists, while also examining his range of work, Looking for Rembrandt is a captivating exploration of the mysterious master.
Partners: Matchlight Films for the BBC; distributed by Banijay Rights Length: 3 x 60 minutes Premiering: March 2019 (BBC) Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK and Holland
Gulag: A Life Under the Soviet System
Manhunting with My Mum
Directed by Michaël Prazan, this film follows the journey of a Soviet Gulag detainee’s granddaughter, as she endeavors to learn more about the forced labor camp system established during the reign of Joseph Stalin. Approximately 18 million people were said to have been detained in prisons operated through the system, but little is known about life inside the Gulag. With a mix of archive and testimonies from former detainees, this doc goes some distance towards lifting the veil of secrecy surrounding a notoriously brutal era in Russian, and world, history.
The hunt for true love can take you anywhere and everywhere, as UK celeb AJ Odudu finds out in this one-hour fact ent program. Single and searching for a partner, the TV presenter and radio host finds herself at a loss even with the aid of modern matchmaking tools, so, in accordance with ancestral tradition, she heads to her mother’s homeland, Nigeria, with Mum along for the trip and four suitors in the running. Part dating show, part travelogue, the program sees the charismatic Odudu meeting with princes and Nollywood actors among other potential partners, in search of her elusive one and only.
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Partners: TV Presse Productions for France Télévisions; distributed by Zed Length: 1 x 60 minutes; 1 x 76 minutes Premiering: TBD Rights available: All rights worldwide
Partners: Summer Films for Channel 4; distributed by Hat Trick International Length: 1 x 60 minutes Premiered: August 2018 (UK) Rights available: All rights worldwide
The Clinton Affair
Drowning in Plastic With Blue Planet II, the BBC turned a long overdue spotlight on a massive environmental crisis impacting our oceans — an estimated 51 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. In this special, biologist Liz Bonnin travels around the world to examine the issue and spotlight not only the seemingly overwhelming severity of the problem, but also those on the front lines working to turn the tide. With a recent report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation stating that the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the number of fish by 2050, programs such as this drive home the fact that the time to act is now.
Partners: Raw TV for the BBC; distributed by All3Media International Length: 1 x 90 minutes; 2 x 60 minutes Premiered: October 2018 (UK) Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK and U.S.
Partners: Jigsaw Productions for A&E; distributed by A+E Networks Length: 8 x 60 minutes Premiered: November 2018 (U.S.) Rights available: All rights worldwide
When Lambs Become Lions The first full-length feature from Jon Kasbe, who won acclaim and an Emmy for his short film Heartbeats of Fiji, provides a rare glimpse into the African ivory trade and the battle against it, and the human beings on either side of the equation. Kasbe takes his cameras to Northern Kenya and spends time with Ivory dealer “X” and his partner, elephant hunter Lukas, and learns more about the reasons behind why they do what they do. Meanwhile, he also follows Asan, part of the wildlife ranger team committed to fighting poaching, with deadly force if necessary. While the issue of poaching understandably elicits rage amongst many of us, this doc attempts to delve into the deeprooted problems — with poverty being chief among them — that drive the trade.
On December 19, 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton was impeached, and formally charged by the House of Representatives with lying under oath and obstructing justice. This six-part series, executive produced by prolific documentarian Alex Gibney and directed by Blair Foster (Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind), details the events leading up to that day — the secret affair with 21-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky, the process of how the information leaked to the general public and how it was subsequently handled — and the impact of the event upon America. Featured are comprehensive interviews with Lewinsky and former special prosecutor Ken Starr (pictured).
Partners: The Documentary Group, Fusion Media Group, Kasbe Films, Project Earth; distributed by Dogwoof (UK and international) and Oscillioscope (U.S.) Length: 1 x 52 minutes; 1 x 79 minutes Premiered: April 2018 (Tribeca) Rights available: World excluding U.S., UK, SSA, Sweden, Poland
This six-part series explores the motivations behind six of the most terrible terrorist attacks in modern history with the aid of archive, dramatic reconstruction and exclusive interviews. From the attack on the King David Hotel in 1946 to the horrific killing spree in Norway unleashed by Anders Breivik in 2011, the series will examine terrorism through multiple lenses — economic, political, societal — in an attempt to understand the carnage of the past, and perhaps prepare us for the future.
Partners: Topkapi Nonfiction, NTR, Autentic; distributed by Autentic Distribution Length: 6 x 50 minutes Release: April 2019 Rights available: All rights worldwide
Behind Closed Doors: Through the Eyes of the Child
Naked Mole-Rat: Nature’s Weirdest Superhero
Following up her BAFTA-nominated examination of domestic abuse, 2016’s Behind Closed Doors, documentarian Anna Hall trains her lens on how children are impacted by domestic violence. Four children and their stories are profiled here with sensitivity and empathy, ranging from eight-year-old Ollie, whose mother endured harrowing violence at the hands of her boyfriend, to 14-year-old Kirstie, who speaks for the first time about her family’s experience, which culminated in the disappearance and tragic murder of her mother by her step-father.
Winner of the NHK Science Award at the Wildscreen Festival in 2018, this program focuses on the rather unsightly but practically invincible Heterocephalus glaber, perhaps better known as the naked mole-rat. With their nearly hairless pink bodies and pointy front teeth, these subterranean rodents won’t win any beauty pageants any time soon, but they are blessed with an ability to resist certain kinds of pain, can survive up to 18 minutes without oxygen, are resistant to cancer, and — perhaps most incredibly — don’t seem to age. What can this strange creature tell us about human mortality, and how can it burrow pathways to cures for our most evasive ailments?
Partners: True Vision Films for BBC2; distributed by Orange Smarty Length: 1 x 60 minutes Premiered: February 2019 (UK) Rights available: Worldwide rights available excluding UK & Eire
Partners: Taglicht Media for ZDF, Arte, Smithsonian Channel, National Geographic; distributed by Albatross World Sales Length: 1 x 52 minutes Premiered: January 2018 (Arte) Rights available: Free TV rights worldwide excluding U.S., MENA, France, Germany
To the Ends of the Earth: East Africa (1x60) The incredible landscapes and wildlife of East Africa.
Samantha Brown’s Places to Love (26x30) Join Samantha Brown as she visits the places she loves.
EVA: A-7063 (1x65, 1x90)
Survivor of Nazi doctor’s medical experiments tells her story.
Shanghai 1937 (1x60)
The New Fire (1x60)
The next generation of nuclear reactors that might help fight climate change.
Screen these and other APT Worldwide titles at MIPDOC
Was the first battle of World War II fought in China in 1937?
Contact Judy_Barlow@APTonline.org or Kevin_McKenna@APTonline.org
JUNE 5, 2019
S A N TA M O N I C A , C A
Do you have the next hit tv format? Submit your winning idea to compete for a grand prize of up to $25K! Up to 6 ďŹ nalists will be selected to pitch live at Formagination, the unique pitch competition from Armoza Formats. Formagination serves as an international launchpad for creativity and this year has a new home at Realscreen West.
NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS west.realscreen.com/2019/formagination
Asia in the Great War
When I Grow Up
Close to two million men were recruited from across Asia to fight in World War I, and this four-part series explores the myriad stories within that statistic. From the Indian soldiers joining what came to be called The Forgotten Army to the Vietnamese fishermen who were under the French empire, and from the efforts of the Chinese Labour Corps to the important role the Japanese Navy played within the Alliance, this series places its focus on the sacrifices made by the various Asian forces, and the impact the conflict would ultimately have in each territory.
Partners: Babel Studios and ECPAD; distributed by TVF International Length: 4 x 48 minutes Premiered: November 2018 (Channel NewsAsia) Rights available: All rights worldwide.
Social experiments featuring kids are enjoying a resurgence in factual entertainment, but with more of an onus on “feel good” results than tempting tantrums. Case in point: this Channel 4 series, in which three companies bring in a bevy of seven-to-nine year-olds to join their employee roster. Whether it’s pitching story ideas at Hello Magazine or testing the goods at Montezuma’s chocolate factory, the kids are put to work in adult environments and learn valuable lessons about teamwork, social mobility and responsibility.
Partners: Optomen Television for Channel 4; distributed by All3Media International Length: 3 x 60 minutes Premiered: Fall 2018 (UK) Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK and U.S.
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This fascinating 10-part series is led by Jackie Malton, a former Met Police Oﬃcer, the ﬁrst female member of The Flying Squad and the inspiration behind Helen Mirren’s character in the multi-award winning drama Prime Suspect by Lynda La Plante.
How do some people stay slim despite never dieting or appearing not to exercise? With the help of private detectives and secret cameras this series unpicks their every move and morsel to ﬁnd out what determines their size.
Behind Closed Doors: Through the Eyes of a Child
Dirty Sanchez daredevil Mathew Pritchard is now an ultra-athlete and chef – and a proper vegan to boot. His challenge: to prove that a vegan diet can make you ﬁ tter, stronger, and healthier – with food that tastes “banging”.
With unprecedented access to charities and the families involved, this documentary by BAFTA award winning Director Anna Hall goes into unchartered territory talking with children about the domestic violence they have witnessed and experienced.
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62nd ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS® CBS – New! Running time: 1 x 210’ Genre: Music/Awards Show It’s all about the music as the industry’s biggest names perform on “Music’s Biggest Night®” – the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards®, the world’s most popular, and most prestigious, televised music awards show, to be broadcast in over 190 territories worldwide. SHALLOW GRAVE Crime & Investigation UK – New! Running time: 8 x 60’ Genre: Reality A murder has been committed elsewhere, likely cleaned of evidence, and then dumped at what investigators call “the deposition site” or shallow grave. Bodies are discovered burnt, dismembered and decomposed but they all share one thing – clues to the killer. HELP! MY HOUSE IS HAUNTED UKTV – Renewed for Year 2! Running time: 12 x 60’ Genre: Reality From Zak Bagans, the creator, executive producer and star of Ghost Adventures, the #1 paranormal show in the world, it’s the spine-tingling new series that finds answers to unexplained supernatural phenomena that help families reclaim their properties from unwelcome spirits. HITCHED IN VEGAS – New! Running Time: 10 x 60’ Genre: Reality What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. It’s the unique, new reality series that follows loving couples and their wedding parties through the most exciting, elaborate and entertaining wedding adventures ever in the Wedding Capital of the World. TOP 20 FUNNIEST – truTV Running time: 49 x 60’ Genre: Reality Laughter is the best medicine…and it makes for a great television show, too. TV’s absolute FUNNIEST show includes comedic commentary over viral videos, home movies, news bloopers and more while we count down the week’s most hilarious videos.
LIVING WITH VOLCANOES (4x52’) Shot for 2 years, and covering more than 40 volcanoes in 12 countries across 6 continents, this series takes audiences on a unique journey to the heart of this living, shifting, and changing planet, to shed light on the infinite diversity of these volcanic stories. Today, the lives of 600 million people are threatened by 1670 active volcanoes. The entire planet is affected: when Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines, global temperatures fell by nearly 1°C for three years. Recent studies suggest that humankind will eventually be wiped out by a gigantic volcanic eruption…
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One Hour That Changed The World: Moonlanding (Documentary 1 x 60’) Documentary which celebrates the historic 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, in a fresh and distinctive style. This inspiring documentary begins with the momentous event, before rewinding the clock to explore the preceding dramatic sixty minutes in granular detail. A Pioneer Productions production.
Key Executives: Bo Stehmeier, President Tim Gerhartz, SVP Global Sales Alex Fraser, SVP Acquisitions
The Weekly (2019 Factual 30 x 27’) ‘The Weekly’ is a landmark new series from The New York Times, bringing the newspaper’s unparalleled journalism and insight to the TV screen for the first time. Delivering compelling US and international stories, ‘The Weekly’ goes beyond the news to reveal the workings of one of the world’s great news organizations. PRODUCER/BROADCASTER: The New York Times & Left/Right for FX and Hulu (US)
Mums Make Porn (Documentary Series 3 x 60) A group of five charismatic mothers with teenage children are given the tools to create their very own porn film, and showcase their version of happy, healthy sex. A Firecracker Films production for Channel 4.
The Curse Of The Vologne (2018 Factual 4 x 45’) On 16 October 1984, the body of four-year-old Grégory Villemin is dragged from the Vologne River. Investigating the most infamous cold case in French history, this absorbing four-part documentary is about an evil that cannot be found; a remote community riven with resentment; and a family torn apart by grief, suspicion and hatred. PRODUCER/BROADCASTER: Elephant Group for France 3 (France)
World’s Deadliest (Documentary Series 13 x 60’) When your life is on the line…What decides whether you live or die? How split-second decisions mean life or death and why against all the odds do we survive to tell the tale? Through the eyes of those who’ve danced with death – we discover the true meaning of life. A back2back Production for 5Spike.
Every Family Has a Secret (2019 Factual Entertainment 3 x 60’) A captivating new factual format follows ordinary people on life-changing journeys as they explore long-held family secrets, revealing hidden pasts, deceit and lies, and buried scandals. PRODUCER/BROADCASTER: Artemis Media for SBS TV (Australia)
elcome to our 13th edition of the Global 100, Realscreenâ€™s annual snapshot of the best production companies working in the non-fiction and unscripted visual content industry, compiled with input from the industry itself. As with past lists, we polled execs from across the business and our readership, asking them to weigh in on the companies that they feel are trusted partners, as well as the prodcos whose work they consistently admire, and the programming from the past year that struck a chord. As usual, it was difficult to pare the results down to a list 100 companies strong, and meant to represent the non-fiction production communities of multiple territories. This year, you will notice within these pages a fair amount of newer companies being profiled, as opposed to some of the veteran companies who have graced the list and its profiles often. While the results still feature a healthy number of those veteran companies, many of which have been on the Global 100 since its inception, we thought shining the spotlight on up and coming companies that are making an increasingly strong impact across platforms would spice up the proceedings, and highlight some of the new blood that is capturing your attention, and that of viewers as well. Before we move on to the list, a familiar caveat: companies owned by broadcasters that do the majority of their work for that broadcaster have historically not been represented in the list. But as those companies increase their production for third parties, they are then admissible. And now, your Global 100. Barry Walsh Editor and content director Realscreen
MARCH / APRIL â€˜19
Headquarters: Toronto www.peacockalleytv.com Number of employees: 8 Number of hours produced in 2018: 30 Recent projects: Tower of Song; A User’s Guide to Cheating Death Upcoming projects: Jensplaining; 50 Ways to Kill Your Mama
ALIBI ENTERTAINMENT Headquarters: Toronto www.alibientertainment.ca Number of employees: 40 Number of hours produced in 2018: 55 Recent projects: Carnival Eats (Food Network); Sarah Off the Grid (HGTV) Upcoming projects: An Accidental Wilderness (CBC); untitled Sarah Richardson project (HGTV); Around the World in 10 Meals (Gusto); Northern Gold (TVO, pictured)
Founded in 2012 by James Hyslop, Toronto-based Alibi has produced over 500 hours of content across genres, ranging from factual to scripted, and from brand funded to kids. On the factual front, the prodco also makes it a point to diversify, with content ranging from lifestyle (HGTV’s Sarah Off the Grid and Food Network’s Carnival Eats) to specialist factual (Secrets of the Pyramids). Praised by collaborators for “clear direction and open communication” and for “building a culture of storytelling, teamwork and innovation,” while also recognized in nominations from outside of its home territory for delivering “heart warming” content that “works well internationally,” the prodco is currently prepping the documentaries Spaceman and An Accidental Wilderness for the CBC, more Carnival Eats and Sarah Off the Grid, and yet another series featuring the host of that program, Canadian designer Sarah Richardson. Barry Walsh
THE GLOBAL 100
PEACOCK ALLEY ENTERTAINMENT
Established in 2012 by former Tricon Films & Television exec Carrie Mudd, Peacock Alley has created a name for itself through smart yet entertaining storytelling. That approach is easily seen in such series as A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, hosted by Professor Timothy Caulfield and sold to numerous broadcasters globally while also streaming on Netflix. The series, now in its second season, has garnered multiple accolades and awards (including a nod for best science and technology program at the most recent Realscreen Awards) and its second season is being shopped globally by Sky Vision. Network execs and production peers who cast votes for Peacock Alley cited the prodco’s ability to punch above its weight, and its dedication to producing what Caulfield calls “fun programming that matters.” In the near future, look for more of that in the form of Jensplaining, featuring Twitter’s resident gynaecologist Dr. Jennifer Gunter for the CBC, and its North American adaptation of the Channel 4 format, 50 Ways to Kill Your Mama. BW
Big Coat Productions
Love it or List It
Stalker Files; It Happened Here
Mayday; Property Brothers; American Pickers
Fear Thy Neighbor; The Dictator’s Playbook
Growing Up Hip Hop; LadyGang
In Plain Sight; Still Standing
Great Pacific Media
Heavy Rescue: 401; Highway Thru Hell
Amazing Race Canada; The Launch
Media Headquarters Film & Television
Canada’s Smartest Person
I Am Paul Walker; I Am Heath Ledger
Jade Fever; Wild Bear Rescue
Hellfire Heroes; Rogue Earth
Vegas Rat Rods; MasterChef Canada
Mosquito; A Day in the Life of Earth
THE GLOBAL 100
Headquarters: Culver City, CA www.ampleent.com Number of hours produced in 2018: Approximately 60 Number of employees: 75, including staff and freelancers Recent projects: Murder in the Heartland (ID); Could You Survive the Movies? (pictured, YouTube); 9 Months with Courteney Cox (Facebook Watch) Upcoming projects: Lost Gold of World War II (History)
Founded four years ago by former AMC and XBox Entertainment Studios exec Ari Mark and former Studio Lambert producer Phil Lott, Ample has garnered substantial praise and greenlights from networks across the cable spectrum and top digital platforms such as Facebook Watch and YouTube. Production partners have included Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV (Cooper’s Treasure for Discovery) and Blumhouse Television (Cold Case Files for A&E). This past year saw the prodco strike overall deals with Courteney Cox (resulting in the Facebook Watch series 9 Months with Courteney Cox, which premiered in January), veteran producer John Henshaw and former Raw TV producer Ed Gorsuch.
44 Blue (a Red Arrow Studios company)
With a flair for delivering access-driven content with visual panache, Ample received, well, ample praise from various execs during our nomination process, with one partner specifically highlighting the team’s “incredible taste, style and attention to detail.” According to co-founder Mark, that’s all thanks to the company’s “filmmaker mentality.” “We wrote a manifesto when we started the company,” he told Realscreen in a March 2018 interview. “And aside from not being jerks, it also says that we need to stay true to the passion.” BW
Wahlburgers; Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry; Pitbulls & Parolees
495 Productions (a Fremantle company)
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation; Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party
A. Smith & Co. (a Tinopolis company)
American Ninja Warrior; The Titan Games
Toluca Lake, CA
Brainchild; Brain Games
New York, NY
Authentic Entertainment (an Endemol Shine North America company)
Trading Spaces; Flipping Out
Big Fish Entertainment (an MGM TV company)
Live PD; Black Ink Crew; Just Tattoo of Us
New York, NY
Bunim/Murray Productions (a Banijay company)
Born This Way; Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Very Cavallari; Catfish: The TV Show
Los Angeles, CA
Endemol Shine North America
MasterChef; The Masked Singer
North Hollywood, CA
Evolution Media (an MGM company)
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills; Botched!; Vanderpump Rules
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THE GLOBAL 100
DORSEY PICTURES (a Red Arrow Studios company) Headquarters: Littleton, Colorado www.dorseypictures.tv Number of hours produced in 2018: 137 Number of employees: 105 Recent projects: Building Alaska, Maine Cabin Masters, Building Off the Grid (DIY); Living Alaska (GAC); Slenderman Stabbing: The Untold Story (Reelz) Upcoming series: Dog’s Most Wanted (WGNA); Accident, Suicide or Murder (Oxygen); season 10 of Building Alaska, season 4 of Maine Cabin Masters (DIY)
Far enough from the frantic pace of New York or Los Angeles, Dorsey Pictures, founded by Chris Dorsey and nestled in Littleton, Colorado (estimated population: 47,734) has built a rock-solid roster of lifestyle, outdoor and branded content over its 15-year history. The company has produced more than 1,000 hours of programming for such cable nets as Discovery, History, National Geographic, HGTV, DIY, Travel Channel and others, and with its recent move into the true crime space, is broadening both its content offering and its network partner portfolio, with the recent Slenderman Stabbing: The Untold Story airing on Reelz and Accident, Suicide or Murder on the way for Oxygen. Many of its outdoor and lifestyle titles are several seasons deep — DIY’s Building Alaska was recently renewed for a 10th season and the prodco is behind four of the Discovery Inc. net’s top 10 series, including Maine Cabin Masters (pictured). But
an upcoming series for WGN also garnered substantial attention in late 2018. Dog’s Most Wanted, featuring crime-fighting duo Dog the Bounty Hunter and wife Duane Chapman is in production, and is the first unscripted series to come from the network in more than five years. Praise for the prodco came from myriad corners of the industry — network execs, coproducers and talent. From one frequent network collaborator: “Chris Dorsey, along with his talented team, have been wonderful productions partners: extremely collaborative and consistently delivering a great looking product at a reasonable cost.” BW
Fly On the Wall Entertainment
Big Brother; Will Smith: The Jump
North Hollywood, CA
Fremantle North America
America’s Got Talent; American Idol
Glass Entertainment Group
Tanked; Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History; Dahmer on Dahmer
Intervention; Untold Stories of the ER
Sherman Oaks, CA
Half Yard Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company)
The Last Alaskans; Say Yes to the Dress
Herzog & Co.
The History of Comedy; The 2000s
North Hollywood, CA
High Noon Entertainment (an ITV company)
Cake Boss; Fixer Upper
Jupiter Entertainment (a Sky company)
Homicide Hunter; Snapped
Kinetic Content (a Red Arrow Studios company)
Married at First Sight; Seven Year Switch
Santa Monica, CA
Left/Right (a Red Arrow Studios company)
The Circus; Ride with Norman Reedus
New York, NY
Leftfield Pictures (an ITV company)
Pawn Stars; Alone
New York, NY
Are You The One?; Ready to Love (with Will Packer Media)
Kevin Hart: What the Fit; Revenge Body With Khloé Kardashian; Music City
Santa Monica, CA
MARCH / APRIL ‘19
LIFE TO TAPE Genre: Factual Entertainment Duration: 10x60' Available as Finished Tape and Format
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THE GLOBAL 100
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CORPORATION (an Industrial Media company) Headquarters: Los Angeles www.theipcorp.com Number of hours produced in 2018: 78 Number of employees: 26, up to 300 freelancers depending on volume of production Recent projects: Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (A&E); Active Shooter (Showtime); This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy (Amazon Prime); Mind Field (YouTube) Upcoming projects: #FreeMeek (Amazon Prime); 1989: The Year that Made the Modern World (Nat Geo)
including American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance producer XIX Entertainment as well as Sharp Entertainment, that won the day, offering Holzman and Saidman the opportunity to run a revamped Core, now trading under the Industrial Media moniker, as CEO and president respectively. IPC has also made good strides in producing for non-linear platforms, with Amazon Studios bringing them on board for This Giant Beast That Is The Global Economy (a collaboration with Vice and The Big Short helmer Adam McKay) as well as the upcoming #FreeMeek, about rapper Meek Mill, and YouTube as the home for popular science series Mind Field. BW
Only a few years after its formation, The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC) has made significant headway in the unscripted space, with Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (pictured) for A&E racking up strong ratings and Emmy recognition, including a win in 2017. Company principals and former Miramax colleagues Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman (who co-founded the shop following successful stints at Studio Lambert and All3Media America) hit the ground running in 2016 with the Remini project and Active Shooter, a riveting exploration of the sad reality of gun violence in the U.S. airing on Showtime. It wasn’t long before larger companies began taking notice and making overtures to acquire IPC. It was Core Media, a brand with a sizeable portfolio
Lucky 8 TV
60 Days In; Released
New York, NY
Magical Elves (a Tinopolis company)
Top Chef; Cold Justice
Los Angeles, CA
Matador Content (a Boat Rocker Media company)
Lip Sync Battle; Master of Arms
New York, NY
My 600 Lb. Life; Shipping Wars
The Voice (U.S.), Shark Tank
Beverly Hills, CA
Mission Control Media
Face Off; Hollywood Game Night; First and Last
Los Angeles, CA
Love and Hip Hop
New York, NY
Optomen U.S. (an All3Media company)
Mysteries at the Museum; Worst Cooks in America
New York, NY
Original Productions (a Fremantle company)
Storage Wars; Deadliest Catch; Bering Sea Gold
Pilgrim Media Group (a Lionsgate company)
Fast N’ Loud, Bring It!; Wicked Tuna
North Hollywood, CA
The Amazing Race
El Segundo, CA
Up and Vanished; Lore
Los Angeles, CA
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THE GLOBAL 100
SHARP ENTERTAINMENT (an Industrial Media company) Headquarters: New York City www.sharpentertainment.com Number of hours produced in 2018: 150 Number of employees: 150 Recent projects: 90 Day Fiancé (TLC); Love After Lockup (WE tv); Man V. Food (Travel Channel) Upcoming projects: 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way (TLC)
ITV ENTERTAINMENT Headquarters: Los Angeles, New York www.itv-entertainment.com Number of hours produced in 2018: 109+ Number of employees: 50+ Recent projects: Queer Eye (with Scout Productions for Netflix); The Four (in association with Armoza Formats for Fox); Hell’s Kitchen (in association with A. Smith & Co. for Fox); The First 48 (A&E) Upcoming projects: Love Island (CBS); Queer Eye: We’re in Japan! (Netflix)
Under the creative oversight of ITV America chief creative officer David Eilenberg and ITV Entertainment EVP Alex Dundas, ITV Entertainment had a big year in 2018, complete with three Emmy wins for the Queer Eye reboot (pictured), produced with Scout Productions and perhaps Netflix’s most popular entry into the unscripted game. Season three is due this year. Meanwhile, Hell’s Kitchen featuring Gordon Ramsay (produced in association with A. Smith & Co.) is still heating up Friday nights for Fox as it wrapped its 18th season, and The First 48 continues its reign as a top five true crime series on U.S. cable, after 17 seasons on A&E. Another edition of the franchise, The First 48 Presents: Homicide Squad Atlanta, debuted in January. Music competition series The Four, produced in association with Armoza Formats, aired seasons in winter and summer. As the summer of 2019 approaches, all eyes will be on the American arrival of UK format phenomenon Love Island, as it hits CBS. BW
Headed by Matt Sharp, this New York-based shop has a hit franchise on its hands in the form of 90 Day Fiancé (pictured), which garnered its highest ratings in the W18-34 demo over the course of its most recent, sixth season. Thanks to Fiancé, TLC topped cable for Sunday nights in that demo, averaging 2.5 million P2+ viewers. But 90 Day Fiancé isn’t the only success story in Sharp’s portfolio at present. Love After Lockdown, a series following couples that are starting fresh after one partner is released from incarceration, has locked down serious ratings for WE tv, and has emerged as the fastest growing new cable reality series of the past year. “Matt is talented and hardworking, everything you could want in a creative partner,” WE tv orginal programming EVP Lauren Gellert tells Realscreen. “Love After Lockup is a very difficult show to produce, and he and his team make it look seamless.” Coming soon: another installment of the Fiancé franchise, 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way, in which U.S. citizens leave their home country to join their partners overseas. BW
The Fourth Estate; My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
Renegade83 (an eOne company)
Naked and Afraid; Many Sides of Jane
Queer Eye (with ITV Entertainment)
Vacation Rental Potential; How Close Can I Beach
Thinkfactory Media (an ITV company)
New York, Los Angeles
Sherman Oaks, CA
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
Marriage Boot Camp; Mama June: From Not to Hot
Los Angeles, CA
Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern; Delicious Destinations; Baked
Eden Prairie, MN
Truly Original Productions (an Endemol Shine North America company)
Deal or No Deal; Real Housewives of Atlanta
New York, NY
Warner Horizon Television
The Bachelor (with Next Entertainment); Little Big Shots (with A Very Good Production, East 112 Street Prods)
World of Wonder Productions
RuPaul’s Drag Race; Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
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THE GLOBAL 100
TREMOLO PRODUCTIONS Headquarters: Los Angeles www.tremoloproductions.com Hours produced in 2018: 10+ hours Recent projects: Ugly Delicious season 1, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Upcoming projects: Ugly Delicious season 2, Abstract: The Art of Design season 2, Shangri-La
Founded by filmmaker Morgan Neville in 1999, this Academy Awardwinning, Los Angeles-headquartered prodco has built its reputation by crafting acclaimed films about music, art and culture. Over the past two decades, Tremolo has produced four Grammy-nominated films: Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble; Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story; Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied; and Johnny Cash’s America. Other notable Tremolo projects include the 2013 feature documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom, which shone the spotlight on the contributions of the back-up singers to notable hitmakers. The film took home the 2014 Academy Award for best documentary and a Grammy award for best music film. Tremolo Productions’ output for 2018 included the release of its awardwinning film Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (pictured), which became one of the highest grossing documentaries of all time. The 94-minute feature, helmed by Neville, tells the life story of TV and cultural icon Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the long-running children’s series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The film collected a slew of nominations and awards, including three nods at the 2018 Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards in the categories for best documentary, best director and best editing. Other recent projects include the David Chang-fronted culinary series Ugly Delicious and the design docuseries Abstract: The Art of Design, both for Netflix. Additionally, Tremolo’s They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, about the making of Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, bowed on Netflix this past November. Selina Chignall
CPL PRODUCTIONS (a Red Arrow Studios company) Headquarters: London, England www.cplproductions.co.uk Number of hours produced in 2018: 39 Number of employees: 45 Recent projects: Married at First Sight, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds (Channel 4); A League of Their Own, A League of Their Own: European Road Trip, Rob & Romesh Vs (Sky One); Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule (with Nit Television for ITV) Upcoming projects: The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes (Channel 4); untitled Harry Hill Series (with Nit Television) Indie TV prodco CPL Productions has been hard at work on its slate of factual and unscripted series, boasting an impressive batch of new and returning projects in 2018 and at least one breakout hit garnering international interest. Run by Danielle Lux, Murray Boland, Heather Hampson and Janet Oakes, the Red Arrow Studios company’s current slate of factual series includes the celebrity sports quiz show A League of Their Own for Sky One. Hosted by James Corden, the series features team captains Jamie Redknapp and Freddie Flintoff joined by celebs who duke it out in three rounds of sports-related questions. Meanwhile, intergenerational docuseries Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds for Channel 4 (pictured) sees a Bristol retirement village suddenly bursting with youth — literally — when residents pal around with four-year-olds in an attempt to measure the health benefits of time spent with young children on older people. The series won a
MARCH / APRIL ‘19
Grierson Award for best constructed documentary series, and two trophies at the Realscreen Awards for best new format and best constructed reality. In buddy travel show Rob & Romesh Vs, produced for Sky, comedians and longtime friends Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan travel the world to meet international stars and immerse themselves in their lives and lifestyles. Upcoming CPL factual series include a continued partnership with comedian Harry Hill, whose ongoing comedy panel show Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule is produced by CPL and Nit Television for ITV. CPL is currently preparing an as-yet untitled series with Hill and Nit Television. These projects are part of a rapidly-growing slate overseen by Deborah O’Connor, who heads up factual entertainment development at CPL, and Trish Powell who serves as executive producer. Frederick Blichert
Unscripted Comes To Life At BANFF 2019
Founder & Chairman of the Board Quibi
PAULA KERGER President & CEO PBS
2019 SPEAKERS INCLUDE:
VANESSA CASE SVP, Studio Canada VICE Canada
Director, Original Content, Lifestyle Corus Entertainment
CARLOTTA ROSSI SPENCER
Manager, Development Discovery Channel
Director, Global Acquisitions National Geographic
President Scott Brothers Global
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JUNE 9-12, 2019
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THE GLOBAL 100
NUTOPIA Headquarters: London, England www.nutopia.com Number of hours produced in 2018: 45 Number of employees: 115 Recent projects: One Strange Rock (Nat Geo); The Great American Read (PBS), Civilizations (BBC) Upcoming projects: Jesus: His Life (History); The Last Czars (Netflix); Unmasking Jihadi John: Anatomy of a Terrorist (HBO, Channel 4) Founded in 2008 by Jane Root, former president of Discovery Channel U.S., controller of BBC2 and co-founder of Wall to Wall, London-based Nutopia established itself from the outset as a premium television prodco dedicated to factual programming with a global reach. No project exemplifies that international mindset quite like One Strange Rock (pictured), produced with director Darren Aronofsky and his Protozoa Pictures for National Geographic in 2018. The 10-episode event series, narrated by global superstar Will Smith, was filmed across 45 countries, six continents and even in outer space. It premiered in 172 countries and 43 languages. Nutopia prides itself on pushing the boundaries of nonfiction storytelling and has made strides in the “megadoc” space, combining epic cinematography and action-driven drama with high-end documentary subjects and A-list talent. The company’s first megadoc was the 12-part, Emmy-winning America: Story of Us for History, a docudrama retracing 400 years of American history.
That was in 2010, long before “premium” was the buzzword it is today, but the company continues its megadoc mission, most recently with the upcoming Jesus: His Life. The eight-part docudrama bows March 25 and airs throughout the four weeks leading up to Easter. It tells the story of Jesus Christ from the perspective of those who knew him best — Joseph, John the Baptist, his mother Mary, the High Priest Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene and Peter — and blends scripted drama with interviews featuring religious and historical experts. Other high-profile projects on the way include the drama docuseries The Last Czars for Netflix, first announced in 2017, and the feature doc Unmasking Jihadi John: Anatomy of a Terrorist, to air via HBO and Channel 4. FB
Icons; Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad
Under the Wire; Body Cam
We’ll Meet Again; Tut’s Treasures
Dragonfly Film & Television (an Endemol Shine company)
Ambulance; My Dad, the Peace Deal, and Me
The Garden (an ITV Company)
24 Hours in Police Custody; 24 Hours in A&E
Jeremy Wade’s Mighty Rivers; The Flood
Michael Palin in North Korea; Caught on Camera
Rise of the Warrior Apes; My Year with the Tribe
Whitney; Murder Mountain
Lion Television (an All3Media company)
Stealing Van Gogh; Julius Caesar Revealed
Love Productions (a Sky company)
The Great British Bake Off; Live Well for Longer
The Detectives: Murder on the Streets; Grenfell
Lazy Boy Garage; Journey in the Danger Zone: Iraq
RDF Television (a Banijay company)
Crystal Maze; Secret Life of 4 Year Olds
Shine TV (an Endemol Shine company)
The Island with Bear Grylls, MasterChef; Hunted
Love Your Garden; The Real Full Monty: Ladies Night
Studio Lambert (an All3Media company)
Gogglebox; The Circle
True Vision Films
Child of Mine; Stacey Dooley: The Young and the Homeless
Twofour Broadcast (an ITV company)
This Time Next Year; The Hotel Inspector
Wall to Wall (a WBITVP company)
Little Big Shots UK; The Art of Drumming
MARCH / APRIL ‘19
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6â€”11 June 2019 sheffdocfest.com #sheffdocfest
THE GLOBAL 100
PLIMSOLL PRODUCTIONS Headquarters: Bristol, England www.plimsollproductions.com Number of hours produced in 2018: 75 hours Number of employees: Up to 300 (including both staff and freelancers) Recent projects: Yellowstone Live, Hostile Planet and Earth Live (National Geographic); Rescue Dog to Super Dog (Animal Planet); Parking Hell (Channel 5) Upcoming projects/films: Parking Hell season 2 (Channel 5), Yellowstone Live season 2 (Nat Geo), The Whales that Flew Home (ITV), Veganville (BBC)
The past year was a fruitful one for Plimsoll Productions. With offices firmly in place across Bristol, Cardiff and Los Angeles, Plimsoll in 2018 went about streamlining its creative operations with the appointment of BAFTA-winner Siobhan Logue as an executive producer in a move to prioritize arts and cultural programming, and the elevation of Tom Hugh-Jones, who became creative director of natural history. The company — co-founded by CEO Grant Mansfield and COO Christine Owen in 2013 — also ramped up its production reach in 2018 with the launch of a fledgling documentary division, headed by Academy Award-winning documentary producer Richard Klein (Man on Wire). Meanwhile, Plimsoll’s big swing on the four-day live event Yellowstone Live — produced in association with Berman Productions and Bunim/Murray Productions — made waves with National Geographic viewers across the U.S. last summer. The series premiere was one of the top 10 most-watched programs on ad-supported cable for all key demographics, including total viewers P2+ (1.9 million). Unsurprisingly, camera crews will head back to Yellowstone National Park to capture the best of the park’s ecosystem in real time for a second run of Yellowstone Live in June 2019. The year ahead will also see Plimsoll continue partnerships with wildlife platform Love Nature with the greenlighting of the 6 x 60-minute natural history docusoap Big Cat Country (due to be delivered in early 2019), and with Nat Geo, which has set an April 1 premiere date for docuseries Hostile Planet (pictured). The blue chip series will offer an intimate look at how animals have adapted to survive in extreme environments. Daniele Alcinii
MARCH / APRIL ‘19
RAW TV (an All3Media company) Headquarters: London, England www.raw.co.uk Hours produced in 2018: 120+ Employees: More than 100 in the London office including 50 core staff plus approximately another 200 on location and in edits. Recent projects: The Bush Years, Three Identical Strangers (CNN); Gold Rush, Gold Rush: White Water, Homestead Rescue (Discovery); Bats Balls & Bradford Girls, Drowning in Plastic (BBC) Upcoming projects: Surrogacy with Tom Daley, Nadiya on Anxiety, Bank of England, Mad Cows: The BSE Story (w/t), Butchering our Planet (BBC); Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport (ITV); Gold Rush 10 (Discovery), Ravens, Dream Horse (features); unannounced projects with CNN, Netflix and Discovery
Founded by Dimitri Doganis in 2001, Raw, part of the All3Media family, has enjoyed a string of successful series and one-offs in the documentary and unscripted genres over the past two decades, including Discovery’s long-running unscripted hit Gold Rush and Locked Up Abroad, now in its 12th season for National Geographic. For CNN, the London-based prodco has produced a slew of series including the politically charged Race for the White House, American Dynasties: The Kennedys and the upcoming The Bush Years. The prodco also added its deft touch with political content to History via the recent Presidents at War. In the UK, Raw’s television credits include the acclaimed, Grierson Award-winning Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me, Drowning in Plastic (pictured) and ITV’s long-running Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport. The company’s feature work also garnered accolades in 2018, as Three Identical Strangers from director Tim Wardle took the 2018 Sundance Film Festival jury prize for storytelling in the U.S. documentary competition. Raw currently has three films slated for production this year and nine more in funded development, including the narrative adaptation of its Sundance hit. SC
THE GLOBAL 100
ESSENTIAL MEDIA GROUP Headquarters: Sydney, Australia www.essential-media.com Number of hours produced in 2018: 130 Number of employees: 50 between Australia and U.S. offices Recent titles: Body Hack (Ten); The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill (Ovation, Foxtel, Prime NZ); Living Universe (produced with Zed for CuriosityStream, Arte) Upcoming titles: Griff Off the Rails Down Under (ABC Australia)
“It is difficult for me to select in which category they may best fit, because they fit them all,” said one exec in his email to Realscreen, one of many nominating Australian headquartered Essential Media Group to the Global 100. From feature docs, such as their award winning look at musical cult heroes The Go-Betweens (The Go-Betweens: Right Here), to specialist factual (Living Universe, a coproduction with Zed; The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill); to returnable series (Body Hack with Todd Sampson for Network Ten, Gourmet Farmer for SBS), Essential has covered a lot of topical territory over the course of its history. And it is also covering a fair amount of geographic territory as well, expanding with offices in the U.S. and Canada. Led by CEO and executive producer Chris Hilton with partner and executive producer Sonja Armstrong, the team at Essential drew high praise from execs in various sectors
and territories, and were cited for their “unfailing professionalism” and “creative and collaborative” approach. The success of the programs also speaks to the quality of the team behind them: The Pacific (pictured) was the top rated program for History in Australia in 2018 and the second highest rating program in the Foxtel factual tier, while Living Universe, a four-parter about the search for exoplanets, is a top performer for CuriosityStream. Body Hack, meanwhile, has attracted a sizeable and passionate audience, and is in production on its third season. BW
Beach House Pictures (a Blue Ant Media company)
Aerial Asia; Cesar’s Recruits: Asia
MythBusters; MythBusters Jr.
Go Back to Where You Came From Live; Bondi Rescue
July August Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company)
Still Standing; My Kitchen Rules (Israel)
Off the Fence (a ZDF Enterprises company)
Destination Wild: Mongolia; Into the Wild: India
Monumental Revelations; Britain’s War of Thrones
Terra Mater Factual Studios (a Red Bull Media company)
Attenborough’s Ant Mountain; The Lions Rule
Living Universe (with Essential Media Group); Sacred Spaces
HONORABLE MENTIONS COMPANY
Redondo Beach, CA
3 Ball Entertainment
51 Minds (an Endemol Shine North America company)
Below Deck: Mediterranean; The Grand Hustle
Atlas Media Corp
Growing Up Gifted; Famous and Fighting Crime
Electus (a Propagate Content company)
Running Wild with Bear Grylls
West Hollywood, CA
Crikey! It’s the Irwins; Pick, Flip & Drive
Los Angeles; Sydney
The Cleaners; Mali Blues
Salt Fat Acid Heat; Dirty Money
New York, NY
Moonshiners; Rise Up - The Movement that Changed America (with Firelight Media)
New York, NY
Breaking Hate; This is Life with Lisa Ling
Girls Incarcerated; Death Row 2018 with Trevor McDonald
The Curse of Oak Island
Los Angeles, CA
World Media Rights
Hitler’s Circle of Evil; The Real Story Of...
Zero Point Zero
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; In Pursuit with John Walsh
New York, NY
MARCH / APRIL ‘19
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
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MARCH / APRIL â€˜19
P I C T U R E S
move to the warmer climes of New Orleans boosted the temperature of the 2019 Realscreen Summit, which marked a 21% increase in attendance over the previous, 20th anniversary edition in Washington DC. All told, more than 1,800 delegates from around the world came to enjoy both the carefree vibe of the Crescent City, and to gain valuable insight from, and face time with, the buyers, content producers and creators, distributors and agents converging upon the Sheraton New Orleans from January 28 to 31. Approximately 300 international buyers were on hand during the conference, including first-time attendees from such emerging outfits as Quibi and Shopify Studios. A big thank you to all of the speakers and sponsors who take part in this yearâ€™s event. The Realscreen Summit will return to New Orleans from January 27 to 30, 2020, but next on the event agenda is Realscreen West, returning to Santa Monica, California for its 11th edition, June 4-6. See you there!
a) Realscreen Awards host Matt Iseman b) Keshet International’s Keren Shahar c) World of Wonder’s Fenton Bailey (l) , Tom Campbell and Randy Barbato (r) at the Realscreen Awards d) Bunim/Murray’s Jon Murray e) Good Caper Content’s Kathryn Vaughan f) YouTube Originals’ Ben Relles g) Lifetime’s Brie Miranda Bryant h) Armoza Formats’ Avi Armoza i) Phil Keoghan with Discovery’s Nancy Daniels j) Half Yard Productions’ Abby Greensfelder k) Realscreen Awards Hall of Fame inductee SallyAnn Salsano l) Tenderfoot TV’s Donald Albright m) ID’s Jane Latman n) Summit Showdown winners Byron Williams (l) and Michael Holstein (second from right) with teams from WE tv and A&E o) WME’s Maggie Pisacane p) NPACT’s John Ford q) Floribama Shore’s Candace Rice r) Raw TV’s Adam Hawkins s) All3Media’s Jane Turton t) Pluto TV’s Jeff Shultz u) Wheelhouse Entertainment’s Sean Cohan v) Epix’s Rachel Brill w) APA’s Brian Speiser Photos by Yvette Ponthier and Wade Ponthier
THE FINAL CUT
BEHIND THE EXECUTIVE EXODUS Over the last several years, many U.S. indie prodcos were snapped up by larger international entities, creating a wave of superindies vying for global scale in an increasingly competitive market. Now, some of the principals of those companies are splitting from them in search of new horizons to conquer. Michael Cascio takes a closer look. by Michael Cascio
ou work your way up the ladder. PA, AP, coordinator, manager, director, VP, whatever… but you can’t shake the dream: you want to be your own boss. Get out of this place and go indie. Work on projects that you create. Set up your own company. And so it begins. You have a solid reputation, a dedicated core of employees, a clever company name and a few projects to get you started. You’re working hard for a few years and ﬁnally it happens. Deadliest Catch. Pawn Stars. Say Yes to the Dress. Top Chef. Hit shows! You’re doing multiple seasons with money coming in. Success begets success, and you’re now developing, pitching, producing, and developing some more. All cylinders are ﬁring. And then … what? We’re now seeing the “then” — the Ofﬁcial Next Phase of the evolving factual TV and ﬁlm business. Some of the principals and founders of big production companies are taking their sizable proﬁts and heading off on their own. They include all-stars such as Brent Montgomery, Thom Beers, Abby Greensfelder, Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth. They’re not alone, and — trust me — there will be more to come. Are they trying to tell us something? While a quiet exodus has been going on for a few years thanks to industry consolidation, the most recent departures suggest that now, more than ever before, there may be a wider variety of reasons for making the move. First, of course, there’s the money. The conglomerates buy into production companies, put them under their umbrellas, and offer a tidy sum for ultimate ownership. The buy usually comes with a window: meet the numbers and after a few years, you get a windfall, and then maybe jump back in with a fresh company. But maybe not…. At the most recent Realscreen Summit in New Orleans, I saw a gaggle of very happy veteran producers leaving their former shops to work on their own under new or different circumstances. They’re thrilled by the money, I’m sure, but they’re also moving into territory that, frankly, seems closer to why they got in the business in the ﬁrst place, removing themselves from the mainstream. As a network refugee who’s now independent, I can vouch for at least a few of these motives:
TRYING SOMETHING NEW Entrepreneurs at heart, these
producers are looking for different ways of scratching that itch. And now they can do it. Brent Montgomery, the Pawn Stars guy, went from building and selling Leftﬁeld Pictures to being named CEO of ITV America, and now has established Wheelhouse Entertainment. The new venture boasts a variety of creative projects, scripted and unscripted, including ventures with stars who are also looking for something new, such as Jimmy Kimmel, who has set up a content shop, Kimmelot, under the Wheelhouse banner.
MARCH / APRIL ‘19
FUELING A PASSION When faced with reinventing yourself
in mid-career, a mentor once told me, “Think of what you wanted to do when you were 22 years old and use that as your guide.” It doesn’t mean going back to being a waiter or janitor, but it does mean revisiting your ideals and goals. Example: Abby Greensfelder, co-CEO of Half Yard, is moving on to start a mission-based enterprise intended to strengthen women’s voices in all forms of media. She’ll stay involved in her company but turns over dayto-day reins to CEO Sean Gallagher, who will keep the engines running at the home of reality series such as Say Yes to the Dress and The Last Alaskans.
FOCUSING ON CONTENT The documentary boom beckons to those who dream of Sundance premieres and Oscars. Many production execs were — and still are — filmmakers are heart. They may be smart business people, but their creative urge still burns brightly. Thom Beers moved on from hundreds of hours at his legendary Original Productions and as CEO of FremantleMedia North America, to his latest venture, BoBCat, where he’s bringing his Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers skills to a smaller outfit, with the freedom to concentrate on as few or as many projects as he wants. Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth, co-founders of Magical Elves, may be known for Project Runway and Top Chef, but they also produce feature-length films, and can now move into either space, perhaps with more autonomy. WATCHING THE BUSINESS MODEL COLLAPSE
The cable business that once supported the industry is in trouble, or as some might prefer to say, transition. Ratings, revenues and subscribers are down. Smaller networks may fold. The big ones are commissioning fewer episodes and forcing suppliers to spend a fortune on development. The streaming services are not yet picking up all the slack. Production company margins, already tight, are in danger of getting leaner. Is it any wonder why these folks are packing up? As they say, do the math. While there is still a need for hundreds of hours of programs in the factual TV universe, producers will have to spend even more of their time and energy to stay profitable. And, let’s face it — executives who built companies in the 1990s or even at the turn of the millennium are not getting any younger. Yes, there are plenty of companies that will flourish in the current and future marketplace. But for many who have made it to the top in the last 10-20 years, it’s time to get out while the getting’s good… and do something fun and, just maybe, more fulfilling. Michael Cascio is president and CEO of M&C Media LLC, where he advises selected media and production partners, and produces documentaries. He is also a guest speaker and writer, whose recent article for the Sunday New York Times revealed how his experience as a backstage janitor prepared him for a career in television. At National Geographic, A&E, Animal Planet, and MSNBC, Cascio has won four Emmys, two Oscar nominations and a “Producer of the Year” award.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD Here’s a look at some of the highprofile moves made by production company principals and founders over the last few years. THOM BEERS Partner, BoBCat • Established Original Productions (Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers) in 1999, sold majority stake to FremantleMedia in 2009. Became CEO of FremantleMedia North America in 2012. • Formed current production outfit, BoBCat, with former Original colleague Jeff Conroy and former AOL exec Sarah Bernard in 2016.
DAN CUTFORTH AND JANE LIPSITZ • Co-founded Magical Elves (Top Chef, Project Runway) in 2001, acquired by U.K.-based superindie Tinopolis in 2014. • Announced departure from Magical Elves in February of 2019. Magical Elves will be overseen by Tinopolis USA chairman Arthur Smith. Cutforth and Lipzitz have yet to officially announce their next venture. ABBY GREENSFELDER • Co-founded Half Yard Productions (Say Yes to the Dress, The Last Alaskans) with Sean Gallagher in 2006. Munich-headquartered Red Arrow Studios took a majority stake in the company in 2014. • Stepped down as co-CEO in January of 2019, and announced intention to develop a company that will champion and support the efforts of women through all media. She will remain as coowner of Half Yard and continue to play “an active role in corporate direction and strategy.” BRENT MONTGOMERY CEO, Wheelhouse Entertainment • Founded Leftfield Pictures (Pawn Stars, Alone) in 2002 and sold his first series in 2008. History bought Pawn Stars the following year. In 2013, Montgomery created his own superindie, Leftfield Entertainment, and took Sirens Media under its umbrella while also launching the subsidiaries, Loud TV and Outpost Entertainment. Sold a controlling interest in Leftfield Entertainment to ITV in 2014. Named CEO of ITV America in 2015. • Announced departure from ITV America post and formation of Wheelhouse Entertainment and its production division, Spoke Studios, in January of 2019. Spoke has a production partnership with ITV America. Barry Walsh
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