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contents 37 17
May / June 18 Cute alert: the two-hour special Pupparazzi is making its way to Nat Geo Wild.
Prodcos ramping up resources for crime content; Project Runway struts back to Bravo .....................................................12 AUDIENCE AND STRATEGY Liz Garbus profiles The New York Times in Showtime’s The Fourth Estate.
Coming attractions for U.S. cable nets .................................................17
“I’ll tell you what’s ‘premium’ — ratings.” 31
The renaissance of the docuseries; top 10 mistakes to avoid when producing true crime………………. 27 THINK ABOUT IT
K7 Media’s Keri Lewis Brown on what TV means in 2018 .................35 DOC FOCUS
Following the “free press vs. fake news” fracas; exploring the filmmaker/subject relationship ................................ 37 ARCHIVE/ PRODUCTION MUSIC REPORT
Rory Kennedy went Above and Beyond in search of archive for the upcoming NASA doc for Discovery .
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on the cover
Rory Kennedy and Barak Goodman on their latest projects; hitting the right notes for long-running series .................................................................. 43 AND ONE MORE THING
Jeremy Wade takes on Mighty Rivers for Animal Planet .........................49
Chefs Tyler Florence and Anne Burrell return to Food Network with a bevy of bad celebrity cooks in tow on Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition.
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May + June 18 Volume 21, Issue 4
all know the saying — “everything old is new again.” While I’m still waiting for that to apply to me personally, as I seem to just remain old, it is reflected frequently in the programming announcements emerging from all corners of the screen content world — cable, broadcast and SVOD. While numbers for Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye aren’t made public, it has generated an incredible amount of buzz, critical acclaim and heck, a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I guess that’ll do in lieu of any official measurements. Iconic home reno show Trading Spaces, meanwhile, came back to TLC with some of its original cast, including host Paige Davis and “legacy carpenter” Ty Pennington, intact and its premiere gave the Discovery Inc. network its highest-rated Saturday night in eight years. American Idol was barely off the air long enough for people to miss it. Pundits are saying MTV is “back on track” thanks to its resuscitation of the Jersey Shore franchise. And in announcing Project Runway’s return to Bravo after years on Lifetime (see page 14), it was referred to as a reboot — even though the final episode of its last season aired last November. Reboots are good business. So what’s not to love? Where is the harm in bringing back familiar faces, characters and concepts that make us feel warm, fuzzy and entertained? With more eyeballs and ad dollars being gobbled up by the FAANGs of the world, every good news story involving linear TV programming can only help the cause of those invested in the health of the medium. But bringing back an established property isn’t simply a matter of copy and paste. A delicate balancing act is part and parcel of the reboot process — marrying the familiar elements that made people flock to the series in the first place with fresh faces or story twists that can lure in new audiences. And while the typical complaint about the reboot trend is that it is killing creativity and innovation in the entertainment industry, the truth is probably a little less worrisome. Producers and networks have always gravitated towards what works — remember the influx of “artifactual” shows in the wake of Pawn Stars blowing up? Success breeds imitation, and sometimes — as in the case of a format adding a new twist to a wellworn premise — it can lead to innovation. Still, at a time when the unscripted industry continues to hunt for a globetrotting smash hit that will crash through the clutter of the Peak TV era, it’s probably prudent to keep the current wave of reboot mania in check, and reap the ratings rewards found by looking back, while continuing to blaze a trail ahead. Finally, a housekeeping note: in our March/April issue’s Global 100, Fly on the Wall Entertainment was incorrectly identified as a subsidiary of Endemol Shine Group. It isn’t. Also, in our MIPTV Picks, The Edge of Wonder: The Human Microbiome is a 1 x 30-minute project, not a 31 x 30 minutes series. Realscreen regrets the errors. Cheers, Barry Walsh Editor and content director realscreen
May / June ‘18
Realscreen is published 4 times a year by Brunico Communications Ltd., 100- 366 Adelaide Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 1R9 Tel. 416-408-2300 Fax 416-408-0870 www.realscreen.com VP & Publisher Claire Macdonald firstname.lastname@example.org Editor and Content Director Barry Walsh email@example.com News Editor Daniele Alcinii firstname.lastname@example.org Staff Writer Selina Chignall email@example.com Contributing Writers Kelly Boutsalis, Allison Grein, Keri Lewis Brown, Chris Palmer, John Smithson Associate Publisher Carol Leighton firstname.lastname@example.org Account Manager Kristen Skinner email@example.com Marketing & Publishing Coordinator Jessica Strachan firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Manager Andrew Glowala email@example.com Art Director Mark Lacoursiere firstname.lastname@example.org Print Production & Distribution Supervisor Andrew Mahony email@example.com Lead Conference Producer Tiffany Rushton firstname.lastname@example.org Webmaster Farhan Quadri audience services Data Integrity and Customer Support Supervisor Christine McNalley email@example.com corporate President & CEO Russell Goldstein firstname.lastname@example.org VP & Editorial Director Mary Maddever email@example.com VP & Publisher, Kidscreen Jocelyn Christie firstname.lastname@example.org VP Administration and Finance Linda Lovegrove email@example.com Senior Director, Events and Creative Services Brenda Wilford firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Director, IT and eBrunico Eddie Ting email@example.com All letters sent to realscreen or its editors are assumed intended for publication. Realscreen invites editorial comment, but accepts no responsibility for its loss or destruction, howsoever arising, while in its office or in transit. All material to be returned must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the publisher. ISSN number 1480-1434
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HAVE YOUR SAY
seems like just yesterday that a colorful shot of Kim Kardashian on the front cover of this magazine heralded a redesign and content refresh. It was actually six years ago — the May/June issue of 2012 — and we are once again embarking on the process of retooling our content and refreshing the look to best serve our audience and reflect your business realities. Our ace design team has the “look” well covered, but there is nowhere better to solicit feedback on editorial content, than from our readers. In the 21 years since realscreen launched, the business has seen tremendous change, which we trust has been reflected within these pages. But change has come at breakneck speed these last few years and it’s important that we report on it in a way that’s relevant to our readers. And that’s where you come in. 1
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Barry and I are keen to know what you’d like to see in the magazine — specifically, what subject matter you’d like tackled, and how? Which of our regular features should stay, and what should make way for something new? What do you want to learn that will help accelerate your business? Please reach out and let us know via email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. As I write this, we’re just a couple of weeks away from Realscreen West which is set to offer an amazing program, thanks in large part to this year’s advisory board helmed by A&E’s EVP and head of programming, Elaine Frontain Bryant. Tremendous thanks to her, and our board: Stephen David, CEO, Stephen David Entertainment; Snapchat’s Seth Goolnik; UKTV’s Ronan Hand; Camila Jimenez Villa, CEO, FMG Studios; Howard Lee, president and general manager of programming at TLC and Discovery Life; Rob Lee, senior agent, alternative television at United Talent Agency; Jennifer O’Connell, EVP, alternative programming at Lionsgate Television, and D’Angela Proctor, SVP of programming and production at TV One. Thanks to all of you for helping to curate a stellar program. Next stop — NOLA! ‘Til next time, go well, Claire Macdonald VP & Publisher realscreen
May / June ‘18
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T R E N D W AT C H :
BY DANIELE ALCINII, BARRY WALSH
As the television industry dives even deeper into the true crime genre, prodcos are investing more in development and in some cases, creating crime and investigation divisions.
early three years since Netflix’s Making a Murderer helped propel true crime programming into the phenomenon that it is now, the trend shows no signs of cooling down. Investigation Discovery’s ratings remain strong, while NBCUniversal-owned Oxygen, since its rebrand to a true crime network, was up 22% amongst total viewers at the close of 2017. A&E, meanwhile, is stepping up its crime offerings with two new series in its upcoming slate (see page 17). And Netflix, the global streaming service that made true crime binge-worthy, announced two upcoming crime docuseries in April: Barbara Schroeder’s Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist and new episodes of the popular The Staircase from What’s Up Films. While it’s a given that in this climate many prodcos are ramping up their true crime development efforts, at least two production outfits have established crime-centric divisions to meet demand. Say Yes to the Dress prodco Half Yard Productions has appointed former Sirens Media executive and veteran crime producer Anne S. Rothwell to lead the company’s newly minted crime and investigation content unit. “This genre has obviously exploded and we’ve seen the success of this programming on different networks, not just cable but also on over-the-top players,” Abby Greensfelder, Half Yard’s co-CEO and executive producer, tells realscreen. “Honestly, it was an opportunistic thing because we saw a huge community of producers in this area that do crime productions,” she adds. “There was an opportunity through Anne, with all of her contacts and her incredible background, to launch
a unit within the company that would be squarely focused on crime and investigation programming.” The crime division will expand Half Yard’s creative capabilities while complementing its library of “real world” entertainment content, including Discovery’s The Last Alaskans and Twin Turbos, Nat Geo Wild’s Animal PD, Velocity’s Junkyard Empire, Lifetime’s Raising Tourette’s and the Say Yes to the Dress franchise for TLC. The first project from the newly formed unit is World’s Most Haunted, to be developed in partnership with Red Arrow Studios’ TV distribution arm, Red Arrow Studios International. Through the division, Half Yard will additionally develop a full slate of crime and investigation series with an aim to feed into the international marketplace while maintaining the rights and selling into the U.S. market. The unit will also specifically develop shows for U.S. cablers and OTT buyers. The forthcoming projects will range across talentled and access-driven programming. Rothwell serves as EP and head of the new division. She reports to Greensfelder and Sean Gallagher, both of whom serve as executive producers and co-CEOs at the company. Most recently, Rothwell served as senior executive producer at Sirens Media, where she launched, served as showrunner and exec produced more than 10 C&I series, including TLC’s Strange Sex; Nightmare Next Door, Deadly Affairs, Evil Stepmothers, all for Investigation Discovery (ID); TV One’s For My Man and For My Woman; and A&E’s Panic 911.
At least two production outfits have established crime-centric content divisions to meet demand.
May / June ‘18
Meanwhile ITV America, the U.S. group of businesses for UKbased ITV, is forming a crime and investigation development and production unit named Good Caper Content and headed by industry veteran Kathryn Vaughan. Vaughan, most recently exec producer of the TNT and Oxygen series Cold Justice, will build and run the new division, reporting to ITV America chief creative officer David Eilenberg. Existing crime content produced by ITV America’s production labels will now reside under the Good Caper banner. These include the A&E series Marcia Clark Investigates the First 48, produced by ITV Entertainment, and Discovery’s Killing Fields, produced by Sirens Media and executive producers Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson. The unit will also create original programming and is currently in development on projects with Dick Wolf, Marcia Clark and others. The label has projects underway with A&E and Oxygen, and ITV America says deals with other nets and streamers are pending. Sirens Media co-founder and executive producer Valerie Haselton, creative consultant at ITV America, will be a senior advisor to Good Caper Content. “[Vaughan’s] knowledge and expertise dealing with law enforcement, unique understanding of the media issues surrounding often brutal and controversial circumstances, and her sensitivity in bringing important stories to light have made her one of the most respected and in-demand producers in the space,” said ITV America CEO David George in a statement.
POINTED ARROW: A Producer’s Perspective
work in a buzzy, fast-changing and creatively stimulating world. So how bizarre it is that a great divide exists in what we do and, if anything, seems to be growing. It’s the divide between those that commission, schedule and run networks and those that create and execute the shows that are the life-blood of our business. Stories of the latest turn of the executive merry-goround, as some talented exec moves from network X to Y or some ambitious creative jumps ship from one indie to board another, are the daily news fodder of trade magazines and websites. But what is surprising is how people crossing from one side to the other are in the minority. Why does this great divide exist and how come it has endured for so long? The early wave of indies in the UK all came from broadcasters — where else could they have worked? That’s also true of the U.S. So there has been significant one-way traffic in the past. But now, with the maturity of independent production and cable, it’s much more likely that people will remain on the same side and not cross the bridge. For the talented new generation, with front line experience running or being a key part of an indie, and stellar career trajectories on one side of the fence; to sharp network execs who’ve risen from junior members of the development team to heavyhitting commissioners — why switch sides when there is a clear road ahead? The economic realities of our sector also reduce the incentive to move around. It can take years to build an indie and reap the creative and commercial rewards of success. Likewise, with the growing opportunities in commissioning, why jeopardize a promising career path by taking on the risks of the other side? Yes, talented individuals are plucked from one side and given an exciting opportunity on the other… but it’s the exception, not the rule.
BY JOHN SMITHSON
Is the divide a bad thing? Probably not. But a bit more experience of how the other half lives may foster a more sympathetic understanding of the challenges faced and prevent some of the trench warfare that can occasionally upset network/indie relationships. Ultimately, we all juggle career and personal choices. A few times in my career I’ve been sounded out for a network job, but I could never forgo the creative and commercial adrenaline that’s fundamental to why I do what I do. But do those of us who’ve spent all our careers in production truly understand the pressures, frustration and, some of the time, insecurity of a network life? The reverse is equally true. Can those in a secure network job understand the day to day pressure of having to sustain the development/production pipeline simply to survive in the business? Talking the other day to one of the UK’s most eminent commissioners, who has just jumped the wall, was a sharp reminder of how challenging it can be to creatively reboot. This is the core point. It takes pure talent to spot and nurture the great idea and the exciting talent. It takes equally great skill to develop and produce this gem. But, like oil and water, do the two ever mix? It’s much easier to move around if you are relatively new to the business, but the higher you rise up the ladder, and the longer you’ve been there, the harder it is to switch. So should you take the plunge? I’m sometimes asked by my counterparts in networks about switching sides. My answer is always the same: Yes, but only if you have a burning desire to move and are prepared to take a risk. Otherwise, stay put. John Smithson is creative director of Arrow Media, an indie he co-founded in 2011. Previously he was chief executive at Darlow Smithson Productions.
BIZ Project Runway returns to Bravo for its 17th season after nine years at Lifetime.
PROJECT RUNWAY STRUTS BACK TO BRAVO
ashion competition series Project Runway is heading back to its first home, Bravo, in time for its 17th season. The NBCUniversal-owned net launched the series in 2004 where it continued airing through 2008, before heading over to A+E Network’s channel Lifetime for its sixth season in 2009. The A+E net renewed it for three more seasons in 2016 in a deal with
The Weinstein Company, which owned the series. However, A+E, arguing a breach of contract, formally axed its deal with the company in January after sexual assault allegations against Weinstein Company cofounder Harvey Weinstein came to light. “This franchise will be an important cornerstone to complement Bravo’s original premium scripted and unscripted
slate, and we expect it to drive the same level of fandom and passion as we experienced last time it was on Bravo,” said Frances Berwick, president of lifestyle networks at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, in a statement. The deal was brokered between Bravo Media and Lantern Entertainment, whose bid to acquire the assets of The Weinstein
DESIGNING A SUCCESSFUL LIFE B Y C H R I S PA L M E R A N D G A B Y K R E V AT
hile we all have our own personal and unique dreams in life, many of us share a common goal: to be successful. The following five tips will help you map out what you need to live a successful life.
“We expect it to drive the same level of fandom and passion as we experienced last time it was on Bravo.” Company — including Project Runway — was approved by the Delaware bankruptcy court on May 8. The deal is subject to Lantern closing that acquisition. “As we anticipate formally completing the acquisition process, the opportunity to return Project Runway to its original home at Bravo and foster a long-term and productive partnership with NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment is an exciting first step for Lantern Entertainment,” added Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic, copresidents at Lantern Capital. Bravo and Lantern have also agreed to develop further unscripted projects for Bravo and other networks in the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment portfolio. While Bunim/Murray Productions served as coproducers for the series during its run on Lifetime, it was unclear at press time as to whether it will continue in that capacity when the series moves. Magical Elves produced the series during its initial run on Bravo. Selina Chignall
Create a personal mission statement. Your personal mission statement describes what kind of person you want to be and what you want to achieve in your life. Having a personal mission statement that is deeply meaningful to you will give you a sense of purpose. In creating it, you are beginning to write the story of your life. What gives your life meaning? Who do you want to become? What matters deeply to you? The process of creating a personal mission statement includes answering three key questions: What would you do if time, money and fear were not obstacles? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? What do you care deeply about and what matters to you? Answering these potentially transformative questions honestly can help reveal your innermost aspirations and guide your decision-making in life so that you will progress toward achieving the vision described in your personal mission statement. Set your goals. Having articulated a personal mission statement, the next step is to set goals and put them in writing. This is a powerful process. Without goals, we are essentially drifting through life without focus. Goals translate the dreams and vision in your personal mission statement into action items and help you turn them into reality. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive. Establish a balance. Keep your life in balance by being aware of all of your important roles and responsibilities — not just your roles at work. Maintaining positive and rewarding relationships with family and friends should be among your highest goals in life. Allocating time to care for your health and well-being is essential. If you find that you are too busy to exercise regularly and practice healthy lifestyle habits, take a step back and modify
your schedule accordingly. True success in life, including a deep sense of fulfillment, will not happen if your life is out of balance. Know what you need, and need to avoid, to succeed. Major gains in success come from curtailing situations or practices that are at odds with your goals and personal standards. This includes avoiding small things, such as poorly run meetings, interruptions, and gossip, that waste time and distract you from your goals. It also encompasses evaluating larger situations, such as jobs, careers and relationships. Regularly consider whether your current job is moving you closer to your dreams. Ask yourself if you are living and working in an environment that fosters personal growth and the development of needed skills. Decide if your relationships at work and at home are what they should be; if they aren’t, determine what you can do to make them better, more satisfying and more in tune with your goals in life. It’s okay to say “No.” Sometimes the best tool for staying focused on your path to success is using the word “No.” Declining a request, without causing ill-will, to take on a task or commitment that’s off-track for you is a valuable skill. You can learn to how to do it. The benefit will be that you will reserve more time to spend on what really matters to you. Saying “No” to unimportant activities (such as spending hours on social media) is just as significant. This clears the board for more goal-oriented, rewarding pursuits. What can you stop doing so you can free up time to do more of the things that are important to you? Success doesn’t happen overnight. It requires patience, a tenacious spirit and plenty of selfreflection. Use these tips to help map out and guide your personalized path to success. Professor Chris Palmer is director of American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking and author of four books, including Raising Your Kids to Succeed, Confessions of a Wildlife Filmmaker and Now What, Grad? Your Path to Success After College. Gaby Krevat is a filmmaker and MA candidate at American University. •
AU D I E N C E & S T R AT E GY
Premium doc content from A-list exec producers, celeb-fronted docusoaps, puppies, pranks and at least one Property Brother factor into the slates of U.S. cable nets for the year ahead.
New series for A+E Networks’ flagship brand include Many Sides of Jane (w/t, 6 x 60 minutes) from Renegade 83. The series follows Jane, a 28-year-old woman from Boise, Idaho who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.), or multiple personality disorder. The show documents her “journey to understand what caused the D.I.D. as well as to figure out how she can best co-exist with her many ‘parts,’ as she calls them,” while she contends with life as a full-time, single mother of two, and strives to complete her Ph.D in biology. Lost for Life (w/t, 8 x 60 minutes), produced by IPC, examines criminal cases in which juvenile offenders sentenced to mandatory life sentences without parole now have a chance to plead their cases, through a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that deemed such sentences as unconstitutional. Through access to the criminals, victims, lawyers and courts, viewers will learn about the original crimes and also get a glimpse into the current legal battles as they unfold. Another crime-focused project, The Accused (w/t, 8 x 60 minutes), comes from Brinkworth Films. The series follows the stories of individuals accused of crimes they believe they did not commit, with the cases explored from the defendants’ point of view. Viewers will see cases unfold from the defendants’ first meetings with their lawyers, to the point where the verdicts are delivered. A fourth series greenlit by the net is a U.S. adaptation of Optomen format Employable Me, which will follow individuals who live with neurological condi-
Natural history fare set to air on Animal Planet in the coming year includes Dodo Heroes (pictured), which documents people going to great lengths to help animals in dire need; docuseries The Irwins (w/t), following Terry, Bindi and Robert Irwin as they tirelessly work to carry their late father Steve Irwin’s legacy forward; and Amanda to the Rescue (w/t), chronicling the lives of Amanda Giese and her family as they care for neglected animals and help them find their forever homes. Further unscripted titles premiering this year include Hanging with the Hendersons (w/t), which provides intimate insight to a family of doctors working at Colorado’s Fox Hollow Animal Hospital; and Wolves & Warriors (w/t), which documents the efforts of the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center as it looks to rescue abused or neglected wolves from dangerous domestic situations, illegal breeding operations and petting zoos, and then introduce them to combat veterans suffering from PTSD. DA
tions or disabilities as they look for jobs that fit with their unique abilities and that will grant them a new independence in their lives. Upon its debut in the UK in 2016, the series performed strongly for BBC2 and received critical acclaim there, and in Canada, where a local adaptation airs on TVO. The U.S. version will also be produced by Optomen. Also, as part of an overall first look and development deal with A+E, television journalist Elizabeth Vargas (pictured) will become the face of A&E’s newly minted non-fiction primetime journalistic banner ‘A&E Investigates’, while Leah Remini, star of the net’s Emmy-winning Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, has inked a deal to develop and produce premium non-fiction content across the A+E portfolio. The network also announced that it would be renewing Remini’s current series for a third season. Barry Walsh, Daniele Alcinii
AU D I E N C E & S T R AT E GY
BRAVO Bravo Media is betting on its formula of noisy formats and big characters by adding 11 new and 20 returning series to its fall 2018 slate, and airing original programming in primetime seven nights a week. The cable network is further expanding its design and home content, with a series fronted by former Queer Eye for the Straight Guy stars Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia. The Thom and Carson Project (w/t) follows the duo as they redesign homes, and is produced by Critical Content and Free Range Media. Other programs in the design and home genre include World of Wonder and Renowned Films’ Backyard Envy (w/t), which follows exterior design and landscaping firm Manscapers as they transform New York City outdoor spaces; Kinetic Content’s Buying it Blind, following couples as they hand their real estate decision over to an expert team; Rock Shrimp Productions’ Flipping Exes, starring a pair of real life exes as they launch a house flipping business in Indiana; and Evolution Media’s Sweet Home, an hour-long series following Jennifer Welch and her design business, with a cast that includes her ex-husband, children, and friend Angie “Pumps” Sullivan. Elsewhere, two new series focusing on Mexico and its people include Shed Media and Campanario Entertainment’s Mexican Dynasties (w/t), which focuses on Mexico City’s high society; and Adjacent Productions and PSG Motion Pictures’ Untitled San Antonio Project (w/t), following a group of affluent women of Mexican descent in the Texas city. Married to Medicine: Los Angeles is a spin-off of the popular Married to Medicine, produced by FremantleMedia North America, and developed by Purveyors of Pop; while Our House Media’s Welcome to Waverly focuses on fish-out-of-water city slickers living in the heartland of Kansas; and lastly Evolution Media’s Unanchored (w/t) follows a group of best friends as they join a festival in the Bahamas on their yachts. Kelly Boutsalis
May / June ‘18
DISCOVERY CHANNEL Discovery will feature 448 hours of original programming in 2018, including the docuseries Why We Hate, exec produced by Steven Spielberg and Alex Gibney. Directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard, the six-part docuseries will draw on research in psychology, neuroscience, sociology and history to examine the evolutionary basis of hate. Produced by Amblin Television and Jigsaw Productions, in association with Escape Artists, the series uses stories from the past and present to reveal the nature of this primal and universal emotion. In Matador Content’s historical weaponry competition program Master of Arms, weapons smiths engage in building historically accurate armaments, to be used in various competitions and judged by experts. Also coming soon is Book of Hines, which features former military man and intelligence officer Brett Hines and his family who chose to make a new life off-grid using survival techniques Hines honed in the military; and Hard to Kill (w/t, pictured), in which
Special Forces sniper and Green Beret Tim Kennedy travels the country to attempt some of America’s most dangerous jobs. Premiering later this year on both Discovery and Science Channel is the documentary Valley of the Kings, which goes inside the first major Egyptian excavation in a generation, in search of several royal tombs that lie hidden. Discovery Channel has also ordered Undercover Billionaire, a series that features a mystery mogul who has 90 days to create a million-dollar company with just a few dollars. If the self-made entrepreneur is successful at the end of the allotted time period, the company will be handed over to those who helped him along the way, and the mystery mogul will unveil his true identity. Also on the way is the previously announced documentary Taken by the Tiger (w/t) directed by Academy Award winners Fisher Stevens and Ross Kauffman. The film chronicles those working to protect tigers in the wild. Selina Chignall
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Unscripted content in E!’s slate includes docusoaps following celeb couples, social media influencers, and a comedy dance show. Ashlee and Evan (w/t) is a Citizen Jones and Cinema Giants-produced docuseries that sees actor-singer Ashlee Simpson-Ross (pictured) and her actor-artist husband Evan Ross record their first duet album. The show also features the couple adjusting to life as new parents. Also heading to the NBCUniversal-owned network is Nat & Liv, following fashion and beauty influencers Natalie Halcro and Olivia Pierson, who have five million followers on Instagram. Viewers will get an inside look at the lives of the cousins and best friends. Machete Productions and Cineflix produce. The Funny Dance Show (w/t) is a one-hour format that sees four comic celebrities participate in a comedic dance show. Drawing from the DNA of movies like Step Up and TV shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, but with a comedy spin, the performances will be judged by an irreverent panel, with the audience voting for the
The Food Network is firing up 650 hours of new and returning original programming for the small screen in the year ahead. Cake-baking titans Duff Goldman of Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship and Buddy Valastro of TLC’s Cake Boss go head-to-head in a competition for the ages in the forthcoming Buddy vs. Duff.
winner, and the winner’s prize money donated to a charity of their choice. Ugly Brothers produces the series. E! will also adapt the popular podcast The LadyGang for television, via Purveyors of Pop and eOne. The series, featuring Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin, and Jac Vanek, will follow the podcast’s format of pop culture commentary, married with no-holds-barred celebrity interviews. The network is also bringing back E! True Hollywood Story with a modern approach. Each self-contained documentary, produced by Wilshire Studios, will focus on a topic, headline, or person that is causing a shift in culture, with interviews from the people involved. E!’s development slate includes a World of Wonder docuseries, The Twins Project, which will follow three sets of twins, with each set working together in pursuit of a dream; while Wonder Women is a competition series looking for the next great stuntwoman. A. Smith & Co. Productions will produce. KB
Elsewhere, cooking competition series Chopped returns with lifestyle guru Martha Stewart joining the cast as a judge, bringing her food expertise and discerning critique to the judges’ table. Also returning to the net are new seasons of Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition (pictured), Iron Chef America, Food Network Star and Food Network Star: Comeback Kitchen. SC
HGTV Discovery Inc.’s home reno net boasts 766 hours of original programming in 2018. Among them will be the return of Good Bones, which features mother/daughter duo Karen E Laine and Mina Starsiak as they transform dilapidated homes in Indianapolis. Premiering in May is the special The Housleys (pictured), which documents actress Tamera Mowry-Housley and her husband Adam, a senior correspondent for Fox News, as they renovate a home in Napa Valley, California; while Home Suite Home will feature teams of renovation pros who transform homes into stunning short-term rental properties for any budget. The series starts with a Nashville-based team, but future episodes will showcase other cities and experts. Finally, Mom and Me showcases popular Oregon designer Karrie Trowbridge and her 21-year old son, Tristan, as they transform outdated properties into stylish homes. SC
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HISTORY The ambitious ‘History 100’ (w/t) strand will be comprised of 100 films from acclaimed documentary directors that focus on some of the most compelling events of the last century. Anchoring the front end of the slate will be eight films from such award-winning filmmakers as Barbara Kopple, Daniel Junger, Charles Ferguson and Werner Herzog (pictured, left), as well as celebrated EPs Jane Root, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Mark Herzog, Thom Beers and Christopher G. Cowen. Films will cover such stories as the group of pioneers that made up NASA’s first female astronaut training program; former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who helped bring about the end of the Cold War; the attempted Delta Force mission to end the Iran hostage crisis; and a new perspective on Watergate. Coming in July: a live, three-hour event, Evel Live, featuring Evel Knievel-inspired stunts by Travis Pastrana. DA, BW
The true crime network is bringing 650 hours of original programming to audiences in the year ahead, including Twisted Sisters, which explores how and why female siblings break the law, and is executive produced by Khloe Kardashian and produced by 44 Blue. From Zero Point Zero comes In Pursuit with John Walsh, a series that carries forward the TV host/criminal investigator’s mission of tracking down fugitives from justice in order to find missing children, while empowering the public to shepherd a more effective and accountable criminal justice system. Lightbox Entertainment’s two-hour special Gypsy’s Revenge (pictured) will explore the death of Dee Dee Blanchard at the hands
of her daughter, Gypsy Rose, who suffered from Munchausen by proxy syndrome. The case of the 1989 kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic is the subject of Lake Erie, a threepart special produced by Talos Films. Following Mihaljevic’s story, the series continues with hour-long stand-alone episodes that examine other murders and mysteries in the region. Finally, The Night That Didn’t End (w/t) from Ample Entertainment will reexamine key moments from a murder investigation — as told by the victims’ family members, detectives or friends — in order to help push the storyline forward and solve the case. SC
MTV MTV’s new-look block of Thursday night programming builds off of the youth network’s success with Jersey Shore Family Vacation, which became its highest-rated new show in six years, drawing an average of 2.5 million total viewers. Anchoring the line-up is the tentatively titled Made in Kentucky from MTV Studios, in association with Luau and Critical Content. The Jackass-style docuseries, which is slated to premiere in July, follows a group of friends from Pike County, Kentucky as they capitalize on their wild behavior to create a raft of stunts, from “Hillbilly Jet Skiing” and “Rock Bouncing” to “Lawnmower Jousting” and making “Hot Tub Pickups” out of the
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flatbeds of their trucks. Meanwhile, the MTV Studios-made Staten Island 10310 (w/t) follows a group of rebellious young adults and their families as they struggle to break away from the temptations of the lifestyle they were born into. Staten Island 10310 is slated to debut in August 2018. The series join Too Stupid to Die (pictured), an 8 x 30-minute program on prank subculture developed with online sensation Zach Holmes, following a group of friends as they delve into pranks, comedy and stunts. It’s produced by Gunpowder & Sky, the prodco from former MTV chief Van Toffler, and is set to debut in June. DA, KB
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NAT GEO WILD
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Plimsoll Productions’ six-part docuseries Hostile Planet will provide an intimate look at how animals have adapted to survive in some of the world’s most extreme environments, from the barren and desolate to wildfires, blizzards, droughts and downpours. The project comes from executive producer and Academy Awardwinning cinematographer and director Guillermo Navarro, Emmy-nominated producer Martha Holmes, and Emmy award-winning Tom Hugh-Jones. Docs slated for network premieres include Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster’s Sundance and SXSW-fêted feature documentary Science Fair (Fusion and Muck Media), which follows nine students from around the world as they prepare for the 2017 International Science and Engineering Fair; Neil Gelinas’ Into the Okavango (National Geographic Studios), which chronicles a team of modern-day explorers on a four-month, 1,500-mile expedition across three countries to save the river system that feeds the Okavango Delta; and the previously announced Free Solo (w/t) from directing team E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, which documents the first-ever free solo climb of Yosemite National Park’s vertical rock formation El Capitan. Other factual series include In Their Own Words, from 1895 Films with NHNZ, which uses archive footage and rare audio recordings to explore historical topics in an immersive doc format; and a
second season of Chain of Command: The Secret Service, from National Geographic Studios, which offers exclusive access into the world of the U.S. Secret Service. Live event programming coming to the network includes National Geographic Studios’ two-hour event Brain Games Live, offering real-time interactive games to reveal the inner workings of the brain; and Yellowstone Live from Plimsoll Productions, Berman Productions and Bunim/Murray Productions. The program will serve as a four-day live event showcasing Yellowstone National Park’s wildlife in real time. Anchoring Nat Geo’s specials slate are the Thoroughly Modern Media-produced Mission to the Sun, exploring the science behind the sun and NASA’s mission to reach the star; and 1895 Films’ Apollo 50th Anniversary, which weaves together longforgotten NASA recordings and media reports about the Apollo 11 mission. Nat Geo is also debuting the Neil deGrasse Tyson-hosted Cosmos: Possible Worlds (Cosmos Studios and Fuzzy Door Productions) in Spring 2019; bringing back Imagine Entertainment and RadicalMedia’s scripted-doc hybrid Mars for a sophomore season; renewing Emmynominated The Story of God with Morgan Freeman (Revelations Entertainment) for a third season for broadcast in 2019; and Explorer (National Geographic Studios) returns as a weekly series featuring field pieces and in-depth interviews. DA
For Nat Geo Wild’s 2018-2019 slate, specials include Pupparazzi (pictured), a two-hour portrait of renowned pet photographer couple, Kayle Greer and her fiancé Sam, from High Noon Entertainment. Here, viewers will see what work is like for the most sought after “dogtographers,” who prefer to shoot dogs being themselves. Produced by Natural History Film Unit Botswana and Icon Films, The Flood is a two-hour event depicting life for animals fighting to survive in the unpredictable Okavango Delta. Airing in November, the film is produced and directed by Brad Bestelink. Also premiering in November is Zeb Hogan’s Monster Fish: Philippines, a one-hour special event produced by IFA Media, following the biologist and National Geographic Fellow as he searches for the whale shark in the Sea of Cortez. Premiering in the fall, Tree Lions sees cat biologist and cameraman Alex Braczkowski observing the behavior of cats climbing trees in Uganda. The special boasts the first shots of lions and their cubs 60 feet up among the trees. New series featured in the line-up include Prairie Dog Home Companion, due in January of 2019 and produced by Radley Studios, about the prairie dog colony of Jemez Springs, near the New Mexico/Colorado border. One Planet Productions follows baby lions, jackals, cheetahs, hyenas and meerkats in Babies Diary, also premiering in January; while the six-episode Savage Kingdom III: After the Fall premieres in the spring. It promises to follow a new clan of characters in Africa’s Okavango Delta. Nat Geo Wild series returning this fall include the sixth season of Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER, produced by Spectrum Productions; season five of Earth Touch’s Snake City; and season six of Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet, produced by Lucky Dog Films. The network’s number one series, The Incredible Dr. Pol from National Geographic Studios, will return for a 14th season in the winter of 2019. KB
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SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL Upcoming specials and series for the Smithsonian Channel include June’s two-part Drinks, Crime and Prohibition from JWM Productions, which examines the truth about Prohibition and its impact then and now. Also in June comes the Smithsonian-produced eight-parter, The Pacific War in Color, which promises to present “the most comprehensive history of the war to be told with true-color archival footage.” Intonature Productions and BoksDocs, in coproduction with Smithsonian Channel, ORF and Arte, bring King of the Desert Lions (pictured) to the channel in July. The film, from Lianne and Will Steenkamp, serves as a follow-up of sorts to their first film for the channel, Desert Warriors: Lions of the Namib. October will bring Blink Entertainment’s two hour special, Top Ten Deadliest Beasts, a copro with France 5, SBS, N24, Channel 5 and BBC Worldwide. Also on the way that month is the three-part The Wild Andes from Germany’s Light and Shadow, a coproduction with Smithsonian Channel and WDR. Returning series include Arrow Media’s America in Color, Parallax Productions’ Hell Below, Tile Films’ Sacred Sites, Blink Entertainment’s Secrets, and 1895 Films’ The Lost Tapes. BW
Travel Channel is growing its slate of adventure programming with the upcoming Hunting Evidence featuring explorer and biologist Pat Spain. The series follows Spain as he travels to assorted locales, using science to explore and potentially explain various enigmas. Six one-hour episodes will begin airing in June 2018. Finding Beasts (pictured), meanwhile, stars wildlife expert and filmmaker Casey Anderson as he endeavors to track down and document evidence of animals so unusual that they are thought to exist only in folklore, or to be extinct. Employing the latest tech and a lifetime of wildlife experience, Anderson will travel to the world’s remote areas to hear firsthand accounts, and gather information from sightings that could lead to up-close encounters with these creatures. The 8 x 60-minute series is slated to premiere in August. Lost Gold, meanwhile, stars Josh and Jesse Feldman, two brothers intent on finding America’s missing treasure. The series will follow the siblings as they track legends, stories and clues across the American Frontier in search of rare riches dating back to the region’s gold rush era and beyond. Six onehour episodes will air later in 2018. BW
TLC New titles headed to Discovery Inc.’s lifestyle network include famous faces such as Drew and Jonathan Scott, and Kate Gosselin. Drew and Linda Say I Do (pictured, w/t) features Property Brothers star Drew Scott and his fiance Linda Phan as they plan their dream wedding. Kate Gosselin, meanwhile, will search for new love in Kate Plus Date (w/t), which will provide audiences with a fly-on-the-wall look as Gosselin, now a single mom, experiences dating life for the first time in more than 18 years. Elsewhere, the two-hour special JFK Jr. & Carolyn: A Camelot Wedding will explore John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette’s
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wedding, 20 years after their tragic plane crash. The film celebrates Kennedy and Bessette’s life and love for one another, while also capturing their wedding weekend on Cumberland Island, Georgia. Rounding out TLC’s forthcoming line-up are Our Wild Life, which follows Bobbi Jo and her husband Jerry Abrams, their three children, and 81 adopted animals; and Mama Medium, which chronicles larger-than-life personality, psychic and medium Jennie Marie and her family in Rochester, New York. Each episode will feature several readings, offering audiences the chance to see her work first hand. SC •
THE REALITY REPORT
VS. DOCUSOAP With global streaming services and premium Pay TV networks gaining buzz with hard-hitting docuseries, cable nets that previously featured high rating docusoaps are stacking more of their schedules with “premium” unscripted. What does this docuseries “arms race” mean for lighter reality fare?
Leah Remini’s Scientology and the Aftermath series for A&E has a third season coming, and Remini has signed a first-look deal for more content.
BY DANIELE ALCINII
scripted arena to double down on disruptive ot since the early 1980s, when cable reality and premium docuseries. television challenged America’s Ratings winners such as Leah Remini: major broadcast networks for media Scientology and the Aftermath, recently renewed supremacy, has the U.S. television industry seen for a third season, and Live PD, the latter such a dizzying explosion in programming. expanding its 25-54 ratings by 171% since There was a 7% increase in the number of launching in fall 2016, now lead the net. scripted series on television throughout the “In the world of the DVR and trying U.S. in 2017, up from 455 in 2016 to a to be Netflix-and-streamer-proof, record-setting 487, according to it’s the subjects that people an annual study of scripted TV haven’t seen before that feel programming conducted by FX the hottest,” says Elaine Networks Research. Frontain Bryant, EVP and Still, as is often the case, it’s head of programming at A&E. unscripted programming — “Because of that, docusoaps often produced at a fraction are a little bit harder to compete of the cost to its scripted [with].” counterpart — that can be the A&E, which has four current series ratings backbone for a network. Frontain Bryant touting Emmy wins — Intervention, That is true for A+E Networks’ flagship brand A&E, which is currently sitting eighth in cable Born This Way, Scientology and the Aftermath and Biography — has shifted dramatically from the rankings for A25-54 as measured by Nielsen, and lighter fare of Duck Dynasty days and instead bolstered by 12 consecutive months of growth. waded further into premium non-fiction. The triumph comes a year after the New In March, the company greenlit four additional York-headquartered cable net recalibrated its series, three of which have a definite docureality programming strategy by withdrawing from the
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THE REALITY REPORT slant: Many Sides of Jane (6 x 60 min; Renegade 83), about a single mother battling Dissociative Identity Disorder; Lost for Life (8 x 60 min; The Intellectual Property Corporation), in which imprisoned juveniles have their cases re-evaluated; The Accused (8 x 60 min; Brinkworth Films), about what happens when someone’s accused of a crime they believe they didn’t commit; and Employable Me (8 x 60 min; Optomen Productions), which follows adults with disabilities in search of their dream jobs. “Audiences have now come to know us for programming that feels very authentic, high quality and premium,” Frontain Bryant tells realscreen. “It’s a very competitive time and it’s very important to innovate. That’s what we try to do every day.” Further solidifying A+E Networks’ push into premium is the recently launched non-fiction content development division A+E Originals. The newly minted subsidiary will develop long-form series, specials and documentaries in all genres for distribution across the A+E portfolio and thirdparty entities. A+E Originals has plans to commission Lehrer more than 50 hours of original non-fiction content in its first year and has already inked first-look overall deals with the likes of Remini, Gretchen Carlson and Elizabeth Vargas. History, which last year ranked as A+E Network’s mostwatched brand with events of the last century. 1,326,000 total viewers, “When I came to History, we had has also been lasercommitted a significant amount focused on superserving of resources to doing specials its audience as the and documentary programming,” destination for historical Lehrer explains of the inception non-fiction programming on TV. The best way to do for ‘History 100’. “If I’m being honest, it was a that, says Eli Lehrer, History’s EVP of programming, fairly disparate collection of projects and it was is to spend more time and energy on “programming challenging to schedule them because there great stories from history” via high-end documentary just wasn’t any connective tissue.” and ‘mega docs,’ which are six- or eight-hour deep With the new strand, however, the network dives into single topics. is heavily leaning on the name recognition of Earlier this year, the network announced ‘History acclaimed and award-winning doc directors to 100’, its premium doc strand comprised of 100 propel it to ESPN’s ‘30 for 30’ levels. films from acclaimed documentary directors that As such, History will look to launch between 15 focus on some of the most compelling historical and 20 high-caliber films each year for the next
“There’s an incredible degree of competition now because everyone is getting into this space.”
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History is launching a doc strand, set to feature 100 specials over the span of a few years.
few years. The initiative kicks off with 10 projects whittled down from an estimated 400 pitches, including Werner Herzog’s Meeting Gorbachev, Barbara Kopple’s Desert One, Jane Root’s Rocket Women (pictured, above) and Charles Ferguson’s Watergate. “There’s an incredible degree of competition right now because everyone is getting into this [premium docuseries] space,” Lehrer notes, “and there’s a relatively limited number of producers and documentarians who can execute at a high level. It’s a bit of an arms race.” It’s not just within the A+E Networks brand where premium docuseries have taken on new luster. Industry-wide, television executives have taken notice as digital streaming giants continue
But at a time when some major cable networks are attempting to shift the unscripted landscape — and brand perception — by bringing in more high-grade docuseries, other nets, such as MTV and WE tv, are still chock full of lighter reality programming. SallyAnn Salsano and her 495 Productions have successfully pushed harder into docusoap with the revival of MTV’s flagship series, Jersey Shore. The franchise reboot, under the moniker Jersey Shore Family Vacation, managed to shine for the Viacom-owned youth network in its April debut. The premiere episode became the highest-rated new show in six years and more than doubled the rating of the original 2009 Jersey Docusoap franchises still pack a big punch, as seen with MTV’s Jersey Shore Family Vacation. Shore debut when it drew an average of 2.5 million total part docuseries Why We Hate. Directed viewers over the two-hour block. directing resources into the medium in search of Salsano by Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard, “It’s relatable,” Salsano says the next binge-worthy story. the project draws on research in psychology, of the television audience’s affinity for Over at Discovery, Inc., the media neuroscience, sociology and history to examine lighter fare. “With our country feeling a conglomerate’s flagship channel Discovery hatred’s evolutionary basis. little bit disjointed at this time, pulled in is programming with an eye toward balance, “This has been in progress for many years here, every direction, I think there is something through a combination of core, long-running but it just feels more and more relevant everyday,” grounding in watching something that feels reality series, cast alongside documentaries that comforting and safe.” can satisfy a viewer’s curiosity in a way that might Bucking the trend towards topical docuseries open up their world to something previously fare, Salsano’s 495 Productions and its shows foreign to them. have managed to carve out solid ratings in the “People are hungry for stories midst of what seems to be a notable shift in that they relate to, that feel programming strategy for unscripted. real and authentic,” notes And while certain segments of the industry Nancy Daniels, recently are attempting to deliver higher-end content appointed chief brand — typically, networks that began with more of officer for Discovery a non-fiction bent but moved towards reality and factual at Discovery, series in the unscripted boom of a decade ago Inc., of docureality’s rise. — Salsano believes that the majority of series “People want to know returning to nets are lighter reality. The thing they’re going to be okay, and about the genre, she says, is that every topic when you watch the news, you Daniels imaginable has already been done — it’s just don’t necessarily feel that way. a matter of developing similar programs in a “So when viewers come to different way and figuring out how to give the Discovery and see people who are… living their final product the spin or twist that will make it dream in a very real and tangible way, that’s a more interesting. really strong antidote to some of the tough stuff “Don’t count out reality,” Salsano stresses. “It’s that you see happening in the world around you. funny because everyone was feeling down for “You should be able to watch our shows and just a little bit, but right now the industry is actually says Daniels of the series expected to bow in want to discover more.” reenergized, whether it’s premium or not. 2019. “It’s really going to try to understand what As such, the company is leveraging the profile “I’ll tell you what’s ‘premium’: ratings,” is behind these actions. They want to look at it on of Academy Award-winning directors Steven she summarizes. “That’s fucking premium, a more granular basis — what can make you hate Spielberg (Amblin Entertainment) and Alex bottom line.” Gibney (Jigsaw Productions) to produce the six- your neighbor?”
“People want to know they’re going to be okay, and when you watch the news, you don’t necessarily feel that way.”
THE REALITY REPORT
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It’s a hot genre, and more and more unscripted producers are wanting to try their hand at true crime content. But, as Allison Grein, associate at Reavis Page Jump illustrates, bringing crime to the screen requires more than a little investigative work in itself.
ove over, Kardashians, true crime is taking over. Since the debut of the addictive Serial podcast in 2014, the true crime genre has exploded over the past few years. It’s clear that the industry is taking notice that the true crime cultural phenomena is here to stay, with everyone wanting a piece of the action. Still, increased opportunities for production companies to create in-demand content for a well established market such as this also come with increased exposure to legal liability, unless prodcos proceed with caution. When they don’t, here are the top 10 mistakes production companies usually make with this genre: 10) ASSUMING PUBLICLY AVAILABLE CONTENT IS FAIR GAME. It’s commonly assumed that content that is publicly available, such as social media posts or YouTube videos, is up for grabs and can be utilized in a television or film production without consequences. This could not be further from the truth! Whether it’s a viral video or a social media post, you still need to worry about copyright infringement and rights of publicity and privacy claims. Although social media may play a huge part in the retelling of recent true crime cases, whoever took those photos or created those videos owns a copyright in the content created, and the fact that the content may be publicly accessed does not mean it can be used freely without obtaining a license (unless you claim fair use — but more on that in a minute). 9) BELIEVING PUBLICLY AVAILABLE CONTENT IS IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. A similar mistake content creators often make is assuming that something is automatically in the public domain because it is publicly available, or simply because it says somewhere on a website that the picture or video is in the
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how fair use works in the first place. Put public domain. This issue stems from confusion simply, the fair use doctrine basically says that over what the public domain is and what it use of copyrighted material is not copyright means for a work to be in the public domain. infringement in certain circumstances. In The term refers to creative works that are determining whether a usage is considered not protected by copyright law. Anyone can fair use, copyright law outlines four factors: use a public domain work without obtaining the purpose and character of the use; the permission, which is probably why producers nature of the copyrighted work; the amount are so eager to believe that works are in the and substantiality of the portion taken; and the public domain. The reality is that works are in effect of the use upon the potential market. the public domain primarily for two reasons. Courts weigh all of the above factors in Maybe the copyright in the work has expired, determining whether a use is considered fair, such as the works of William Shakespeare. but give particular weight to whether the In other words, you could feature lines purpose and character of the use from a play of William Shakespeare is “transformative,” referring in a true crime production, to the extent to which such as, “Something wicked the copyrighted work is this way comes!” because used for the purposes Shakespeare’s works are of comment, criticism, no longer protected by or parody. Production copyright. Perhaps the work companies sometimes isn’t eligible for copyright focus too much on how protection in the first place, much of the work they’re such as works produced by using, as opposed to how it’s federal government employees being used. For example, stringing in their official capacity. For several copyrighted short clips example, a crime scene photo taken Grein together, without any underlying by an employee of the FBI could commentary, may not be fair use, even if the be used because the photo was, again, never clips are short in duration, because the usage protected by copyright. is not transformative. Production companies The distinctions between publicly available, also often forget that a fair use analysis is a factpublic domain, and fair use (which I’ll explain specific inquiry, meaning whether a use is fair next) may be subtle, but they’re important to could change depending on the circumstances. understand so that you can recognize where In other words, a fair use analysis that is and to what extent you may be vulnerable to appropriate for one show format, such as The infringement claims. Colbert Report, may not be appropriate for a documentary film. 8) MISUNDERSTANDING FAIR USE. Second, it’s important to remember that fair Production companies often believe they use is a defense to copyright infringement, can feature whatever material they want in a which means it won’t prevent your company production because of the “fair use” doctrine. from getting sued and which is why it is This is problematic for several reasons. First, always better to license material and secure production companies often misunderstand
E M I R C E U R T H T I W TROUBLE
releases when possible. Finally, fair use Errors & Omissions insurance policies usually have a deductible, so that in the event your production company is sued, you may end up paying at least part (if not all) of the damages out of pocket. Thus, it’s often more cost effective to obtain a license in the first place. 7) FORGETTING THAT LAWS MAY DIFFER FROM STATE TO STATE. During the investigation and fact gathering process of a true crime production, it’s likely that a producer may be filming or interviewing individuals in different states. Witnesses move and detectives retire following an unsolved crime as life goes on. With that in mind, it’s very important to be aware that laws vary from state to state on issues like rights of publicity and rights to privacy. For example, in some states, such as California, the law requires that all parties to a conversation must consent prior to it being recorded. In other words, the law prohibits surreptitious recording of uncooperative participants who do not wish to appear on
camera. By contrast, New York law requires the consent of only one party to a conversation in order to record it. Consequently, if you are a documentarian interviewing someone in New York, you may record the conversation without your subject knowing. 6) NEGLECTING TO LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE. Let’s say a production company wants to use footage of a crime scene, but it doesn’t want to license it. The production company uses its best efforts to cut the footage in such a way that it believes it has a strong fair use claim. But copyright infringement is only one kind of claim the producers should worry about. There could be a claim of trespass, if the footage was taken on private property without permission; defamation or false light, if the footage is presented in an inaccurate or misleading way; or invasion of privacy, if the footage features information that was not previously publicly available. Production companies sometimes focus too intently on minimizing one legal risk and end up losing sight of larger or additional problems — do not lose sight of the forest for the trees.
Congratulations to the team at Authentic Entertainment and to all of the 2018 Global 100 producers. Thank you, Realscreen, for our 12th consecutive Global 100 selection!
5) OVERLOOKING THE THREAT OF SUBPOENAS. It is of the utmost importance that production companies take steps to protect their journalistic privilege. Otherwise, they run the risk that their footage or research materials may be subpoenaed by courts. Content creators should not give their subjects the right of review or approval, and in cases where it is necessary or required, such as with law enforcement, the review should be limited to confirming accuracy. Moreover, producers should preserve boundaries between subjects and maintain financial and editorial independence over the production process at all times. 4) TAKING TOO MANY CREATIVE LIBERTIES. Fictional recreations and red herrings can be a useful device to keep an audience engaged, but if not carefully edited, they may also open production companies up to a false light or defamation claim. Red herrings should be clearly and unambiguously explained by the end of the program to minimize exposure to these kinds of claims.
THE REALITY REPORT
3) FORGETTING TO ASSEMBLE THE RIGHT TEAM. In addition to hiring an attorney, there are at least two other types of people you should consider having in your corner. First, a seasoned clearance producer, who will be able to help you clear and license materials featured in your production quickly and cost effectively. They should also be able to help you navigate the jungle of fair use. Second, if you’re proceeding with a controversial story, you may want to consider enlisting a public relations team so you can prepare and strategize in advance for any fallout and negative publicity.
themselves questions like: Do I have appearance releases for everyone in this film? Have I secured location releases for everywhere I shot? Do I have work-for-hire agreements with everyone who worked on the film? Are there any minors featured in the footage? Where are my sources coming from — is it a public record, or is it anonymous? Is the evidence real or fabricated? What are the parameters of the release? These may seem like basic questions, but serious problems frequently crop up later because production companies didn’t ask them when deciding when and how to feature certain content. Don’t assume anything.
2) FAILING TO PERFORM DUE DILIGENCE. When producing true crime subject matter there is always a scramble to finish and distribute content before the next guy comes along, because let’s face it — no one wants to watch five documentaries on the same murder case. However, in the haste to quickly deliver a final cut to the network, production companies often inadvertently skip some important steps in due diligence. It’s imperative that producers ask
1) NOT HIRING AN ATTORNEY. A true crime production may face legal exposure on many fronts, including claims related to invasion of privacy, right of publicity, copyright infringement, defamation, false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among others. Moreover, the legal landscape might change depending on the nature of the content. For example, a doc might have increased liability exposure with
respect to copyright infringement, whereas a fictionalized depiction of true events might have increased exposure to claims of rights of publicity. Although it’s impossible to eliminate all risks associated with producing true crime content, an attorney experienced in entertainment law can help you navigate and minimize the areas of legal exposure in your production. The bottom line: producing content in the true crime genre is not without its risks. But by keeping these common mistakes in mind, you may be able to side-step some potential minefields and save time, money and aggravation in the long run. RPJ Associate Allison “Ally” M. Grein regularly counsels clients on intellectual property, entertainment and employment law matters. This article is intended only as a general discussion of these issues. It is not considered to be legal advice or relied upon. •
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THINK ABOUT IT
What’s in a name? Even though the methods of doing so are changing, millions are still tuning in to something to watch a huge range of programming. But, as Keri Lewis Brown, managing director of international media consultancy K7 Media, asks, in a multiscreen world, is our current description of this activity — “watching television” — still applicable?
a professional cooking show via a hat is television?” The social media app, as with Discovery’s answer to this question Chopped U on Snapchat, catch up used to be so obvious on shows on your Amazon Echo Dot that it was never asked. Over the last alarm clock, and when TV drama is five years, however, it has become consumed in 13-hour binge sessions more relevant and less hypothetical as while a blockbuster movie such as the traditional broadcast models have Avengers: Infinity War acts as de facto splintered, streaming has exploded “season finale” to a series of billion and social media and mobile have dollar two-hour episodes. transformed the way we consume and discuss media. As we head towards the third decade of the 21st century, “What is television?” is something that requires an answer. We could get pedantic and argue that, linguistically at least, the word “television” still works just fine. Broken down, it simply means to watch something from far away and that’s certainly the case, regardless of whether you’re watching the latest prestige documentary series on a major network, or watching a bite-sized factual video that’s been slipped into your social media app by an algorithm. Can we still call any of this Television has cultural roots, “television”? And if not, what else? however, and we ignore those at The industry seems to have settled our peril. The TV is part of the on “content” as the catch-all term home, a focal point. “Watching for whatever is produced to fill these the telly” is a concept woven into new platforms, but while that term our lives — or at least, it was. is fine for business purposes it has This is very much a generational the cold ring of the boardroom about shift, with the fabled and muchit, and rather undersells the human studied Gen Z being the first to aspect that is so essential. Whether not view the large screen in the it’s an agenda-setting documentary or living room as the default hub of a heart-rending drama, nobody in the all domestic entertainment. real world says, “Hey, shall we stay in It’s also a technological divide as tonight and watch some content?” the number of screens capable of When viewed from an audience showing “TV” grows exponentially. perspective, the flux becomes easier In less than a decade we’ve gone to understand — if not to navigate. from a world where You have material and platforms that television only require intense engagement, such meant broadcast, as the cinema or even VR. You have to a world material and platforms that require where you less attention, whether it be shortcan watch
“The industry seems to have settled on ‘content’ as the catch-all term... it has the cold ring of the boardroom about it.”
THINK ABOUT IT
“How can we gauge success if ‘Likes’ can be bought, views can be faked and in some cases, audience figures aren’t available at all?”
form digital content or streaming shows that can be paused and restarted at will. Some are more conducive to a social setting, others work better when consumed alone. Some are driven by interaction and sharing, pushed to viewers based on increasingly complex behavioral patterns, while others will wait to be discovered organically. As an audience member, you simply gravitate to the one that suits your situation and mood; catching up on a YouTube series on your phone during the morning commute, committing to a few hours of Westworld with your partner in the evening. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” — that’s what Juliet tells Romeo, reassuring him that her attraction to him transcends what he is called. Audiences seem to have naturally reached that relationship with “television” but the industry itself is still struggling, largely because it’s frustratingly hard to work out where you are if nothing can be pinned down. How can we gauge success, and therefore commercial value, if “Likes” can be bought, views can be faked, and in some cases audience figures aren’t even available at all?
It is also ironic that this fractured landscape not only coincides with the collapse of global barriers, but is in fact driven by it. Foreign language material was always considered a niche market, but when niche interests are the engines of success it becomes financially viable to invest in such programming. Netflix users in Italy can watch Korean shows, automatically subtitled in their own language, while what would once have been small local shows can now debut worldwide at the press of a button. The danger, of course, is that a company as successful as Netflix gets to define the cultural experience on its own terms. Anecdotally we’ve heard of young children who simply refer to everything on the TV as “Netflix”, just as all vacuum cleaners were once Hoovers, all digitally altered images are Photoshopped and to play any video game meant “playing Nintendo”. The act of watching has changed forever, and the language we use to describe it must change too. Audiences will eventually come up with terminology that sticks all by themselves, but as an industry we need something better than simply “content” if we’re to guide the process. •
onald Trump’s love/hate relationship with the media began in earnest long before his swearing into office one year ago. But just weeks after his inauguration, the 45th President of the United States of America seemingly borrowed terminology from unlikely sources — Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin — and lambasted the “fake news” media as the “enemy of the American people”. One year firmly into his presidency, Trump reiterated his pledge to “take a strong look at libel laws” to make winning defamation lawsuits against news organizations easier. Objective, evidence-based reporting has been branded with the “fake news” slur — a term enshrined in the American lexicon in 2017 by way of the White House. Sensing the Trump administration would be radically dissimilar from its predecessors, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus decided to take action early on. Prompted by a heated November 2016 spat between the then president-elect and The New York Times over a scheduled lunch — which Trump initially canceled but ultimately attended — Garbus (The Farm: Angola, USA; What Happened, Miss Simone?) approached the Gray Lady’s Washington bureau with the idea of embedding herself and a team of filmmakers in the Times’
bullpen for a one-year period. “Ten days after the election, it occurred to me — I’m the daughter of a First Amendment lawyer — that this was a story that I wanted to tell,” Garbus says. Through a friend at the newspaper, Garbus was connected to Times assistant editor Sam Dolnick and, later, executive editor Dean Baquet. With access granted, Garbus quickly went to work on gaining the trust of individual Times journalists. In exchange for their participation, reporters would be able to review each episode upon completion to ensure their confidential sources remained anonymous and that no off-the-record conversations would be broadcast. Garbus’s four-part docuseries for Showtime, titled The Fourth Estate, grants exclusive access to the inner workings of the newspaper of record as its journalists report, from the front lines, on the Trump administration’s first year in office. Ultimately, cameras collected 500 hours of footage over more than 120 days of filming. Captured on tape are Trump’s first speech to Congress, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion, and former FBI director James Comey’s congressional testimony, as well as meetings with foreign leaders, routine resignations, and attempts to pass legislation through Congress.
Liz Garbus had prime access to the New York Times’ reporting team for Showtime’s The Fourth Estate.
BY DANIELE ALCINII
In an era of “fake news” and conflict between the free press and various world leaders, it’s a challenging time to be a journalist. Sensing history in the making, doc-makers are keen to capture the action on screen. “It’s an extremely timely story, and the currency of these stories is incredibly important,” says Showtime’s Vinnie Malhotra, SVP of documentaries, unscripted and sports programming. “This is a defining story in American history. If you are cognizant enough to understand what you’re living through, then, of course you want to be a part of the first draft of history,” he adds. “There is no more dramatic and important story than politics and what’s currently happening in this country.” The Fourth Estate, which held its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and made its Showtime debut May 27, is the latest project in a recent wave of doc programming that turns its lens on the profession of journalism.
DOC FOCUS Behind the surge of Fourth Estate-focused filmmaking is the current state of cable news which, Malhotra says, has become a bastion for debate formats and politically focused opinion pieces. “By and large, primetime line-ups and the general conversation that we’re seeing in news media leaves a lot on the table,” explains Malhotra, whose network also broadcasts Left/ Right Productions’ The Circus, a non-partisan docuseries on the Trump era of presidential politics, now in its third season. “Documentary has really come in and given us the context that we need, has gotten underneath the surface, and helped us really understand the times that we’re living in, to do real reporting,” adds Malhotra, who was with cable news giant CNN as part of its CNN Films team prior to Showtime. “That’s where there’s been a wonderful resurgence in the medium of documentary and, in particular, political documentary storytelling.” Not since the Nixon era has freedom of the press been under this level of pressure. Shrinking newsrooms have placed long-form journalistic investigations on the backburner or pushed them to the sidelines all together, leaving some documentary filmmakers to pick up the pieces. But there are pros and cons to those efforts, notes Charlotte Cook, co-creator and executive producer of Laura Poitras’s filmmaker-driven documentary unit Field Of Vision. “In many ways, documentary filmmakers can run with things for a longer period of time; they still don’t have the financial support, but they do
May / June ‘18
have a will to be able to do that,” explains Cook, an executive producer of Risk, Poitras’s profile of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. “Documentary filmmakers are so innovative and have this tenacity that they will just keep going; they will find a way to make that film and tell their story in any way they can. And that is extremely hopeful.” The downside, however, is that filmmakers do not have the same institutional support that a journalist might have at a newspaper, should documentarians find themselves under attack from characters within their investigative projects. As such, documentary filmmakers must adhere to the responsibility of creating content that is both truthful and transparent while also respecting journalistic ethics. The current climate around information and how it’s reported makes it all the more critical for documentary makers to be dead-on accurate says Emmy-nominated director John Maggio, whose archive-driven The Newspaperman: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee profiled the seminal Washington Post executive editor for HBO Documentary Films. Maggio began realizing the timeliness of his story — one in defense of the First Amendment — around the time Donald Trump rose to political
prominence. The Buffalo-born filmmaker was in the edit room cutting film of Richard Nixon’s spokesperson, Ron Ziegler, unleashing attacks on the free press, when he made the connection. “The significance of Ben Bradlee’s legacy as a crusader for the First Amendment in a free and independent press took on new meaning when Donald Trump came on the scene,” he notes. “The deeper I got into his story, the more I realized that Ben had been through this with the Nixon administration, with these attacks on the media. “It was as if Trump had taken a page from Nixon’s playbook.” Maggio says that like the Post’s Bradlee, documentarians, journalists and government officials share an equal responsibility to ensure accurate and impartial reporting while safeguarding the autonomy of the Fourth Estate. It’s why, he adds, it is such a vital time to be a documentary filmmaker. “You want to be able to counterpunch when you’re under attack,” he says. “That’s why we have to be so on top of our facts — that’s going to be the difference in combatting this fake news narrative that’s being pumped out. “We should all be energized to be telling stories right now.”
“There’s been a wonderful resurgence in documentary and, in particular, political documentary.”
In Showtime’s The Fourth Estate, Liz Garbus and crew collected 500 hours of footage from more than 120 days of shooting at the New York Times’ offices.
DUTY OF CARE W
hen an individual is a victim of violence and harassment, it can cast a dark shadow over one’s life. It’s therefore imperative that filmmakers making films about such topics be sensitive to those they are casting a lens on, says Kelly Showker, director of the 2018 documentary, Slut or Nut: Diary of a Rape Trial. “I would not make a film with someone if that person wasn’t going to be closely involved. I don’t want the film to have a negative impact on someone,” Showker tells realscreen. The film, which recently had its world premiere at Hot Docs, follows Mandi Gray, a York University PhD student as she struggles to navigate the Canadian legal system after reporting a sexual assault. While the defendant was originally convicted of assaulting Gray, the conviction was overturned a year later by the Ontario Court of Appeal due to what the appeal judge called “inadequacies and excesses in the reasons for judgment” and charges were dropped. During the production process for the documentary, Showker says she tried to be as supportive and conscientious as possible towards Gray, even setting up their own messaging platform so she and Gray could stay in touch with one another. The trial received substantial media coverage at the time, with Gray waiving her right to a publication ban on her identity. To ensure her privacy and safety while making the doc, the
director also made sure that when filming shots with Gray, not to include many exterior shots of places where she frequented. “I wanted to keep her daily movements private because she was getting so much backlash,” says Showker. Harassment is something that Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi woman who survived sexual slavery and the destruction of her family at the hands of the jihadist group ISIS, knows too well. Award-winning director Alexandria Bombach followed Murad for her haunting 2018 feature documentary, On Her Shoulders, which documents Murad’s path to speaking for her community on the world stage. By 2017, she had traveled to more than two dozen countries to discuss her ordeal, and as a result, faced harassment online and by phone from ISIS members. Despite the harassment, Murad confesses in the film that she wishes those in the media interviewing her would focus their questions towards the Yazidi community — not on her. Bombach says Murad’s confession compelled her to reflect on her own storytelling approach for the film and the choices she was making. “I think those are good questions for storytellers covering trauma to ask: What are you promising people? What position are you putting people in?” she says. “It’s an interesting conversation for us all to have — not just filmmakers, but also journalists and storytellers. “I don’t want to go into these stories assuming
Kelly Showker’s Slut or Nut: Diary of a Rape Trial follows someone navigating the legal system after reporting a sexual assault.
BY SELINA CHIGNALL
Documentarians frequently contend with sensitive subject matter in their films, and as such, need to take special care in framing the stories of their subjects with accuracy and empathy. But can that responsibility sometimes get in the way of telling the story?
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Nadia Murad, the subject of Alexandria Bombach’s On Her Shoulders, endured sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS.
I know what the story is,” she says, adding the most important thing for her was to be “in the moment” with the young activist. The director’s caution regarding preconceptions comes from her background making films in Afghanistan, including her 2015 feature-length doc Frame by Frame and the 2016 New York Times Op-Doc, Afghanistan by Choice. From her experience, the director says she’s seen people go for a few weeks into the territory with a preconceived story, and stick to it even if another story unfolds in front of them. “That can be so dangerous when you are representing a place where people can’t hold your feet to the fire because it’s so foreign and far away,” says Bombach. Thus, she maintains that it’s crucial to listen and be authentic to the experience of those people you are covering. Another suggestion to storytellers — specifically doc directors — is to choose your crew carefully, says Showker. “You need to make sure you have people working on the project that understand the situation,” she offers. “You can put your subject in a negative situation if your staff and crew are not sensitive to the topic.” She says that, as a filmmaker, you have to be objective but you don’t want to hurt those you’re casting the light on. There also comes the time when filmmakers need to stop filming out of respect for what their subjects are going
Gordon Quinn and RadicalMedia’s Joe Berlinger among others, the report stated that doc-makers would often strive for a “good faith relationship that would not put their subjects at risk or cause them to be worse off than they were before the relationship began. They widely shared the notions of ‘Do no harm’ and ‘Protect the vulnerable.’” Writing for the International Documentary Association’s website, Documentary.org, Patricia Aufderheide, executive director for the Center and a co-writer of the study, said it highlighted how filmmakers tended to share three ethical principles: honor your vulnerable subjects by protecting them from attack, honor your viewers, and honor your production partners. They are principles that can come into conflict. But part of the job in doc-making involves finding that balance. “I don’t think you can tell these stories without building that trust and honesty, and working with the people in the film closely to do your best by them,” says Lowen. •
“What are you promising people? What position are you putting people in?”
through, says director Cynthia Lowen. While shooting her 2018 film Netizens, which follows three women who are dealing with online harassment, she says there were times she would turn her camera off so as not to intrude on attorney-client privilege or due to other privacy concerns. “I work with a deal great of respect for the boundaries that people need to maintain for their own safety be [they] physical or emotional,” says Lowen. The ethics of the filmmaker/ subject relationship in documentary have been widely discussed within the industry for years, with a 2010 study by American University’s Center for Media and Social Impact, titled Honest Truths: Documentary Filmmakers on Ethical Challenges in Their Work, providing great insight to various aspects of that relationship. Collecting input from a variety of filmmakers, including Kartemquin’s
Netizens director Cynthia Lowen
OUT OF THIS WORLD BY SELINA CHIGNALL
Doc director Rory Kennedy is no stranger to working with archive. When given the chance to helm Discovery’s upcoming NASA-focused film, she found the space agency’s chronicling of its own history, and its dedication to monitoring the Earth and its ongoing evolution, goes “Above and Beyond.” Rory Kennedy’s comprehensive doc about NASA examines its past, present and future with the help of “an insane amount of archive.”
hen Apollo 8 launched 50 years ago, its mission was to study the moon. Instead, it ended up revealing something else: Earth. Apollo 8, launching on Dec. 21, 1968 from the Kennedy Space Center, was the first crewed spacecraft to circumnavigate the moon. During this mission, the team of three American astronauts saw Earth in full for the first time. Significantly, astronaut William Anders snapped a photo of an “Earthrise” — a now iconic image depicting our blue planet peeking out beyond the lunar surface. Half a century later, history comes full circle as documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy delves into the story of NASA in the upcoming film, Above and Beyond: NASA’S Journey to Tomorrow. As the niece of the late American president John F. Kennedy Jr., for whom the Space Center was named after and who in 1961, called to put a man on the moon before the decade ended, she has a unique vantage point from which to chronicle the space agency’s history. And as a documentary maker who has worked magic with archive material for past
films such as Last Days in Vietnam and Ethel, Discovery’s choice for the director of its NASA project seems particularly inspired. “It’s [NASA] an organization I’ve always admired,” Kennedy, who also produces and narrates Above and Beyond, tells realscreen. As the daughter of the late 1968 Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, the institution, she says, intersects with her own family’s history and America’s. Produced by Moxie Firecracker Films, the prodco founded by Kennedy and Liz Garbus, the film not only looks at NASA’s rich past, but also delves into the next-generation telescopes, Mars-bound spacecraft prototypes and cutting-edge missions that will inform the future of human exploration of our solar system and the broader universe. Above and Beyond also looks at the space agency’s technological innovations, used in monitoring everything from the hole in Earth’s ozone layer to global climate change, in a better effort to understand the past, present and future of our home planet. Unlike many of Kennedy’s projects, Above and Beyond took nearly two years to pull together. During the film’s shoot, she produced 2017’s intimate portrait of big wave surfer Laird Hamilton in Take Every Wave: Laird Hamilton, and Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America, a documentary that looks at technological inequalities in public schools.
Director Rory Kennedy says NASA is an organization she has “always admired.”
The production team collected between 4,000 and 5,000 pieces of archive for the project.
In first thinking about how to construct the film’s narrative, she says she allowed for the opportunity to let the archive material drive the project. There proved to be an abundance of riches for her to sift through. “I think NASA understood the importance of images — as we saw when they went up to the moon, everybody could see that moment,” Kennedy notes. “They have been cognizant of that, and they have documented themselves over these many decades.” While NASA has been prolific in documenting its history, it hasn’t centralized the material in
May / June ‘18
“If you get a ‘no’ from one place it doesn’t actually mean that NASA doesn’t have the material,” Green-Dove says — it could be locked away in another facility. On top of hunting down the archive material, Green-Dove says that each facility has its own budgets, rules and archival systems to contend with. She says she often had to push to get rare and interesting material that NASA may not have shared before with the public, most likely as it was buried in their archives. The archive producer also notes that it was a process to get the original masters of some footage because NASA had already provided what it believed was broadcast-ready content. Still, Green-Dove needed the masters to get the footage as close to its rawest form, and to provide the project with a cinematic feel. In the end, Green-Dove estimates that between herself, Kennedy and other members of the production, a collection of between 4,000 to 5,000 individual archival pieces was amassed. The producer, who also worked on Kennedy’s 2017 projects, describes this collection as “an insane amount of archive”. With such content to choose from, some of the images that impacted Kennedy the most came from the collection captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. She was particularly struck by some of the images from the 1995 Hubble Deep Field mission, which provided imagery taken from over 10 days of a relatively “empty” patch of sky in the constellation of Ursa Major. Kennedy says the content is “both stunning in its imagery, and its implications are significant” — indeed, with the original Hubble Deep Field image revealing almost 3,000 galaxies, it also reached back to a “young Universe” in which galaxies had not yet formed stars. “I was familiar with some of the images that came out of Hubble prior to making this film, but when I spent time with those images, I wanted it to be a significant part of the film.” Above and Beyond is currently playing at select festivals, and will debut on Discovery in October.
“NASA understood the importance of images, as we saw when they went up the moon — everybody could see that moment.”
one storehouse. Instead, various collections are housed across 10 facilities around the country, with each field center storing its own archive. “It was a bit of a challenge to figure out where the archive was sourced and then to build up the relationships with those institutions,” Kennedy explains. She and her team also had to figure out how the facilities were organized — which location had what content — to then get the material needed for the project. Archive producer Amelia Green-Dove says when she first started working on the project, she initially thought hunting down footage would be a relatively easy process because so much of it was public. However, the challenge would be to find the content that hadn’t already been featured extensively in past NASA-related projects. The search for archive material took the team across the U.S. to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas; and AMES Research Centre in Mountain View, California, amongst other facilities, says Green-Dove.
WOO WOODSTOCK OO OODSTOCK Over the course of a career that’s spanned more than 20 years, Barak Goodman has tackled some big topics: domestic terrorism, cancer, and the life stories of myriad influential Americans. In time for its 50th anniversary, the non-fiction filmmaker is now turning his eye to one of the most iconic music festivals in history — and a treasure trove of rare archive from the event.
hile speaking to realscreen about his 2017 film for PBS’s ‘American Experience’ about the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Barak Goodman revealed that while creating a captivating film with archive requires a certain amount of skill, it also involves a lot of luck. “In my career,” he told us then, “some of the greatest finds have been because you just ask the question, ‘Do you have anything in your basement?’” It’s a question he’s asked a lot recently, as he prepares to get to the fine cut stage of his latest project for the PBS strand, Woodstock. Unlike the acclaimed 1970 film from Michael Wadleigh
(featuring a young Martin Scorsese as an editor), which focused on the musical acts taking the stage over the three-day festival in 1969, Goodman’s film is composed entirely of archive from the perspective of, and featuring, the hundreds of thousands in attendance. “Woodstock was far more than a concert,” he says of the decision to focus on the audience and the activity happening off-stage. “It was an iconic moment in the history of the counter culture in America, and it has continued to occupy this unique space in American history. We wanted to know why: what was it about this event that so captured
people at the time, and since? The music was great, but it wasn’t a sufficient answer — there have been a lot of concerts before and after that were equal to Woodstock in terms of the music. “What Woodstock did was it put the conceit of peace and love — the rallying cry of the counterculture that [at that point] was just words — to the test,” he continues. “Woodstock was a near disaster from the moment it commenced — no one had expected the crowds. They expected 50,000 to 100,000 and they got 500,000. In a situation like that it could’ve gone terribly wrong. Was peace and love really going to hold the tide?”
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“Woodstock put the conceit of peace and love — the rallying cry of the counter-culture that at that point was just words — to the test.”
May / June ‘18
In interviewing “dozens of people” ranging from concertgoers to organizers, Goodman says that question was answered with a resounding “yes.” “Everyone to a person describes the serenity, cooperation and a sense of love and sharing that held everything together through it all,” he says. “And that’s inspiring, especially in these times.” Those interviews, Goodman says, will serve as voice-over or narration, and not as “talking head”style interview footage. That decision was made early on by ‘American Experience’ executive producer Mark Samels, to allow the archive to provide a more “immersive” experience for viewers. Furthermore, according to Goodman, “our feeling was that this wasn’t about the individual characters. These festivalgoers all have their own stories but the big story, and the main character, was the festival itself. “There’s an A and B storyline,” he explains. “One storyline is the organizers — their goals, their dream, the reality they faced and the heroic attempts to keep it from devolving into chaos. And the second storyline is the people who came — who they were, why they came, what they experienced at the festival and what they took away from it. I’d say the first half of the film gets you to the festival and the second half is what happens when you’re there.” A fair amount of archive came from those festival attendees — ranging from still photos to home movies and testimonials — housed at the Museum at
Bethel Woods, which sits on the site of the original “music and art fair.” “The networks were there,” adds Goodman. ”Not for the first day or two, but arriving late on the Saturday and Sunday [of the event] and surprisingly, NBC had a lot of footage shot at the festival. But a large number of people [attending the concert] seemed to have brought movie cameras or still cameras. There were some remarkable still photos capturing the masses of humanity taken by amateur photographers.” The team is also having fun with setting up the context for the concert in the first half of the doc by lovingly sending up the Sixties culture. “There’s a campiness to some of the story we’re telling, about what the Sixties were like, how people were discovering this counter-culture, turning against their parents. We found all sorts of fun, wild old commercials, and archival flotsam and jetsam,” says Goodman. Still, the bulk of the material comes from what Goodman justifiably calls a “treasure trove” of archive. After extensive negotiations with Warner Bros., which holds the rights to the footage, the project was granted exclusive access to the outtakes of the original documentary. “There is probably more than 100 hours of pristine, 16mm film that sat in various basements and vaults, unseen,” marvels Goodman. “This stuff is beautiful. The first time I was shown it on a primitive machine — I think it was a Steenbeck at Warner Bros. — my jaw just dropped. It really puts you right back there. “Some of my favorite footage is not down in the crowd around the stage, but on the outskirts, where there was a whole world — a whole thriving mini-city erected on the perimeter of the festival,” he adds. “There were improvised head shops in the woods, yoga being done on the hog farm compound, a second stage where people would just get up and riff. The folks who made the original film really did a great job — they had 13 camera crews so they had people going out to these outlying areas, just filming what they saw.” Goodman says the team is between the rough and fine cut, and has “gotten over the hump.” The aim is to have it festival-ready by early next year. But while Goodman and his company, Ark Media, already have several other projects in production and development, he won’t be looking into exploring Woodstock ‘69’s grungier offspring, Woodstock ’99, through a documentary. “No, this will be plenty,” he says with a laugh. “I’m into ’69. I wish I could go back there.”
PRODUCTION MUSIC REPORT
hen we think of such reality juggernauts as Survivor, The Amazing Race, MasterChef and Top Chef, we think of the incredible impact they’ve had on the genre and on television itself. And for the composers who have been scoring the series for multiple seasons, they are an integral part of their businesses. “The biggest challenge of being on a long running series is actually being on a long running series,” says Vaughn Johnson, composer and president at Los Angeles-based Scorekeepers and a composer on Profiles Television’s massive hit for CBS, The Amazing Race, for 25 seasons. Indeed, such fortune can be hard to come by as the number of such perennial unscripted hits isn’t huge, and like others involved in the production process, the teams behind the music for these series know not to mess with a winning formula. Still, freshening up the sounds for new seasons — within reason — is a necessity. “For a music competition show, the majority of the music is licensed, and it doesn’t make sense to constantly create new material every single season,” says Mark T. Williams, composer and co-founder of Ah2, the Los Angeles-based company behind scores and cues for MasterChef, Shark Tank, and recent seasons of American Idol, among other series. “But with MasterChef, they’re really relying heavily on keeping things interesting and fresh. If you had the same music from season one through to season nine, it would feel stale and the producers recognize that. Because they recognize the value music plays in their show, they continue to request new material for every season.” David Vanacore, owner, CEO and composer at Vanacore Music in Valencia, California, has been
scoring for perhaps the most iconic of reality series — Survivor — for 19 years. With each season taking place in a new location, there’s a constant need for new music to match the environment. Vanacore says each season’s score is made up of 90-95% new music. “It’s not like some of the other shows — they really want new, cool stuff all the time,” he says. “A lot of the other shows will have their favorites, and rightfully so.” But even those favorite cues — used to punctuate elimination rounds or other key, recurring moments in an unscripted series — can be tweaked and freshened up. Aaron Kaplan, part of the musical scoring collective Barefoot Music, works on such franchises as Bravo’s Top Chef and Real Housewives. “One thing we commonly do is change or contemporize older themes — Top Chef is a great example of that,” he says. “There’s a lot of music that we wrote in the beginning that retains its format, like the title theme, and some of it has crossed over into different shows within that franchise. So we’ll often rework old pieces to keep things contemporary and give it a fresh spin.” Still, to keep both audiences and producers happy, the trick is to know how much to apply. “With long-running series, you don’t want to go so far that it becomes a different show,” maintains Ah2 co-founder and composer Jeff Lippencott. “There are certain sounds that people expect to hear.” Not only are the musical cues in many long running reality series consistent — so too, often, is the production talent behind the scenes. But when a new producer or music supervisor boards an established franchise, it can prompt the composers to change their tunes.
BY BARRY WALSH
Several reality series that ushered in the unscripted phenomenon are still on the air, and often, with the same composers providing the score for each new season. Here, realscreen talks to the composers behind some of reality’s longestrunning series about how they keep scores fresh, and producers happy.
PRODUCTION MUSIC REPORT
“With longrunning series, you don’t want to go so far that it becomes a different show. There are certain sounds people expect to hear.”
composers need to do more with less, much like their other production counterparts. “Survivor has been incredibly supportive of the music,” says Vanacore. “That being said, I’m also cost conscious. I’ll make sure that their money is well spent and we’ll get more than what we need.” “With some of these series that are still on the air, at the beginning we often used to sit in a room with producers and there was more of a back and forth, and there was a lot more concern for the musical content of the show,” offers Kaplan. From a creative standpoint, putting more resources into scoring a series also makes a huge difference in a crucial area for an unscripted series — the editing. Given that it’s often the editors calling the shots for the music and needing the
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“I’ve been on shows where you have a new producer who comes in on a different season and they’ll have their ideas about how to make the music fresh,” says Kaplan. “I was working on a show where I was doing a lot of country music, bluesy Americana influenced stuff. Every season the producer would request a new sound — pedal steel or banjo, or whatever instrument happened to be the flavor of the week. So I essentially collected instruments over the course of writing the score, so that I could have a banjo on episode one, before it eventually went back to what it was.” Another area that may not remain consistent over the course of a series several seasons deep is the production budget, and the line amount allocated to original music. In some cases, producers strive to keep the budget for new music intact, but in other cases,
score in advance before cutting footage, providing them with new music instead of familiar library cues keeps them invested in the project, leading to a better edit. “There are times with The Amazing Race that I get to score to picture specifically, but the editors are the superheroes in this,” says Johnson. “It rarely happens in reality TV because there is just not enough time to finish the edit, send it to the composer and have him score it to picture. We’re having to score a lot in advance. “My hat is off to the editors who make it seem like a composer has scored to picture.” No matter how long a series lasts, collaboration between composer, editor and producer is key. “It’s not ‘just’ music,” sums up Vanacore. “It’s something that helps tell the story.” •
AND ONE MORE THING
Fishing for answers T
he last few generations have pushed some of the most fearsome freshwater predators lurking within the world’s rivers to the brink of extinction. It’s something that extreme angler and biologist Jeremy Wade has witnessed firsthand while traversing the globe over the past nine seasons for Animal Planet’s River Monsters, one of the most-watched and most successful programs in the network’s history. The grizzled and globetrotting Englishman has returned to the Discovery, Inc. network with Jeremy Wade’s Mighty Rivers, a six-part investigative docuseries that debuted in April and fishes for answers to find out why these apex predators are vanishing from vital waterways and what exactly can be done about it. With Mighty Rivers, the 62-year-old Wade and his production partners at Icon Films trek to the likes of India’s Ganges, China’s Yangtze and Africa’s Zambezi rivers, to understand how exploitation and pollution are contributing to the ruin of rivers that were once the lifeblood of communities and home to his beloved “monsters.” Why was it important for you to return to Animal Planet with a conservation series such as Mighty Rivers? I’m always a bit nervous about categories. It’s still about fish, yes, and it is about conservation and the environment. But we’re trying to almost create a new category for it, where it’s the kind of program people will want to watch and learn something in a painless way. Obviously our history with Animal Planet is important — they have confidence in our ability to make programs that people do want to watch. Even though we’ve kept a lot of the River Monsters DNA, moving into a program that people will categorize as conservation is quite a bold step, particularly when you’re doing that for a mass audience. But I’m confident in our track record because a lot of what River Monsters did was get a lot of people watching. River Monsters was a natural history program and it got a lot of people watching natural history programs who wouldn’t otherwise.
BY DANIELE ALCINII
What perspective Jeremy Wade, star of Animal Planet’s has traveling the popular River Monsters, returns to world’s great rivers the network with another Icon Films-produced series. given you, in terms of conservation? My original interest was big fish and most of those big fish, in biological terms, are apex predators. The thing about apex predators is they are great indicators of the health of the whole river. So if the apex of the food pyramid is there then you can be pretty sure that everything else is healthy. You don’t need to look any further. But when you start seeing that the apex predator is hard to find, that’s cause for concern. I’m in these places for a short time and need to tap into local intelligence — that’s about gaining the trust of the local fishermen. It’s normally good to find the old fishermen; they’re the ones who know the story and their memory also stretches back the furthest. What I’ve picked up is this picture of a very recent decline in the life of the rivers, and we’re talking in the last 100 years or so. This is something that’s not documented elsewhere. There is a database but it’s in the minds of these old fishermen, and nobody’s recorded that so I’ve been doing that in an ad-hoc way. Mighty Rivers is an attempt to be a little bit more systematic about it — instead of having this as a peripheral thing that I’m aware of, let’s really make this a special investigation and a global journey. What’s next for you? There are no immediate plans to do a second season, but I do think that is a possibility in the future. The actual methodology of it was quite difficult, but… there could be an update down the line, maybe looking at other rivers. There are more fish- and river-themed adventures coming, but as to what they are we’ll have to wait and see, including myself at the moment. •
W H O L LY W O O D H OT E L , L O S A N G E L E S NOVEMBER 6-7, 2018
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INTRODUCING OUR 2018 ADVISORY BOARD
Camila Jimenez Villa
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CEO FMG Studios
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Head of Production & Development Incendo