Realscreen - Sept/Oct 2018

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VIS IT US : STA ND P 3 . C - 1


Š2018 A+E Networks. Claimed marks are the trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC protected in the United States and other countries in the world.

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A W A R D -W I N N I N G ®

N E T W O R K S ®




heavy duty rescue missions on a supersized scale A NEW FACTUAL DOCUMENTARY 10 X 60’

VISIT US AT MIPCOM, STAND R8.C9, RIVIERA 8 Catalogue: Contact us: @KeshetIntl KeshetInternational @KeshetInternational



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HISTORY IN THE MAKING Exploring upcoming history highlights such as PBS’ Chasing the Moon








contents 47 21

September / October 18 Blue Planet II is among the natural history projects connecting with younger audiences.


Jane Root discusses a decade as a Nutopian; John Smithson on nurturing talent on your team .................................14 Finding the right remote location for reality competitions such as Survivor is a challenge unto itself.


“A really good company is a community.” 14

Bringing younger audiences to natural history; international history commissioners talk slates...............................21 MIPCOM PICKS

Our choices of top projects being shopped in Cannes ....................31



Spanning the globe for the right remote location; Jingle Punks founders on their first 10 years; DPs discuss making the move to VR ...............................................47 BANIJAY GROUP SPOTLIGHT

A close look at the Paris-headquartered superindie as it celebrates its 10th anniversary ...............................55 The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds is one of the hits in the catalog of Paris-headquartered Banijay Group.




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HISTORY IN THE MAKING Exploring upcoming history highlights such as PBS’ Chasing the Moon

on the cover Coming in 2019: Chasing the Moon is Robert Stone’s archivedriven look at the Apollo 11 moon landing, for ‘American Experience’ on PBS.


Steer clear of the comfort zone, advises Endemol Shine chief creative officer Peter Salmon ..............................60 AND ONE MORE THING

Doc director Joe Berlinger discusses his latest true crime series and more....................................................61




Expedition with Steve Backshall Coming 2019 | 10 x 1 hour | Produced by True To Nature Limited for BBC Two & Dave (UK)

A global series exploring uncharted regions of our planet in a series of epic world firsts

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17/09/2018 14:57


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Manson: The Lost Tapes 2 hour special | Produced by Naked for Fox (US) & ITV (UK)

The chilling reality of life inside the notorious cult, told through previously unseen footage and exclusive interviews

Extraordinary Factual Programmes & Series

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I Am Paul Walker 2 hour special | Produced by Network Entertainment for The Paramount Network (US)

A feature-length documentary film exploring the life and legacy of the charismatic actor

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In Search Of 10 x 1 hour | Produced by Propagate for History (US)

An immersive, experiential journey with host Zachary Quinto examining unexplained phenomena from all over the world

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07/09/2018 15:25




I write this, a report has emerged from the UK’s Sunday Times, claiming that ITV has officially put in a bid for Endemol Shine Group (ESG). Predictably, ITV has offered no comment at present, but the fact that the Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also has a stake in ESG, gives the story a stronger whiff of veracity. By the time you read this, the deal may already be sealed, or another suitor may have stepped into the ring with a sweeter offer. When and if it happens, the sale of ESG will be the latest in the recent crop of mega-mergers and astronomically expensive acquisitions. The Disney-Fox deal will substantially impact the broadcast network landscape in the U.S. once it finally clears, and will provide a new parent company for National Geographic and FX. There’s also the AT&T-Time Warner tie-up, which has prompted many a tongue to wag concerning its impact on HBO, and how the network will be expected to alter its model in the battle for premium supremacy against Netflix and the invading SVOD army. And who will walk away with Sky — 21st Century Fox or Comcast? As of press time, that question may wind up being resolved via private auction. As predicted when larger companies started bulking up by acquiring indie prodcos with strong slates and impressive balance sheets, the M&A spree has stepped up as the race for scale accelerates in an increasingly global business. The Goliaths of the world are no longer satisfied with mere Davids. Still, in the face of these billion-dollar buys, a good number of production firms are opting to retain their status as “true indies.” Often, these are companies with strong expertise in particular niches but increasingly, these shops are broadening their reach, and their impact on this industry. Occasionally these companies are fresh out of the gate with young, ambitious talent steering the ship. But often, they are established by producers who have cut their teeth with larger businesses — be they bigger prodcos, or networks. We’ve already seen how the last wave of M&A is reshaping the production community, with a few notable company principals exiting as their earn-out contracts near their ends. Expect more of that in the months ahead. Of course, there are significant challenges in staying small, and vying for space in the same playing fields as the global superindies. But smaller companies have a habit of embracing innovation, and as a result, can strike significant partnerships with similarly nimble entities in other territories to keep overheads low and creativity as a focal point. I’m often reminded about how powerful a small crew can be, when I look at how much the realscreen editorial staff punches above its collective weight. With this issue, I’m happy to announce an addition to our team — senior staff writer Frederick Blichert. His byline has appeared in Vice, Paste, Canadian Cinematographer and other outlets, and he brings to the table a true passion for storytelling and the craft of production. Be sure to look out for him and the rest of the realscreen “Lean and Mean Team” at the Summit in late January. Cheers, Barry Walsh Editor and content director realscreen


September / October ‘18

September + October 18 Volume 22, Issue 1

Realscreen is published four 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 VP & Publisher Claire Macdonald Editor and Content Director Barry Walsh News Editor Daniele Alcinii Senior Staff Writer Frederick Blichert Staff Writer Selina Chignall Contributors Kelly Boutsalis, Chris Palmer, Peter Salmon, John Smithson Associate Publisher Carol Leighton Account Manager Kristen Skinner Marketing & Publishing Coordinator Jessica Strachan Creative Manager Andrew Glowala Art Director Mark Lacoursiere Print Production & Distribution Supervisor Andrew Mahony Lead Conference Producer Tiffany Rushton Webmaster Farhan Quadri audience services Data Integrity and Customer Support Supervisor Christine McNalley corporate President & CEO Russell Goldstein VP & Editorial Director Mary Maddever VP & Publisher, Kidscreen Jocelyn Christie VP Administration and Finance Linda Lovegrove Senior Director, Events and Creative Services Brenda Wilford Senior Director, IT and eBrunico Eddie Ting 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

© Brunico Communications Ltd. 2018

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factual content that captivates...

MIPCOM Stand No: P3.C10 @all3media_int


12/09/2018 11:13



hile my teenage daughters consider me a luddite when it comes to social media, I’d likely be considered quite savvy by my peers. I’ve been known to make the occasional tweet, post often on LinkedIn, stay connected on Facebook and have even sent out the odd Snap — generally to annoy the aforementioned teenagers, who seem to think a middle-aged woman has no business on that particular platform. One of the themes that emerged while I was reading the pages of this issue of realscreen, is how important a role social media can play in the success of a particular show, particularly when it comes to harnessing those elusive millennial and Gen Z eyeballs (see Dan Alcinii’s feature on p. 21 and Endemol Shine Group chief creative officer Peter Salmon’s column on p. 60). This is hardly earth-shattering news, particularly in the unscripted/reality world, where the interactions between viewers and characters in shows have been creating mass engagement and driving conversations for several years now. What’s more interesting is the impact that social can have on natural history programming for linear channels. Producers are creating models that integrate social strategies into the pitch from the get-go, and networks are increasingly adopting these approaches to content. The spikes in the resulting viewership from young people speak for themselves. As we all know, the media industry is transforming at lightspeed. Our specialist factual report would suggest, and my teenagers would confirm, that young people are not moving away from television — they are simply engaging with it differently and maybe not watching on the 55” plasma screen in the living room. No doubt, this will be part of the conversation in New Orleans in January. I hope to see you there. ‘Til next time, go well. Claire Macdonald VP & publisher realscreen


September / October ‘18

UPCOMING ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES January/February 2019 Editorial Features: Realscreen’s Trailblazers, Development and Commissioning Report, Archive Report Bonus Distribution Realscreen Summit, NATPE, Sundance Film Festival Booking deadline December 7 Realscreen Summit 2019 & Realscreen Awards January 28 - 31 New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Digital Advertising Newsletter: 17,500+ subscribers 175,000+ monthly page views; 135,000+ unique page views Sponsored eBlasts For information on any of these opportunities or if you’re interested in sponsorship or private meeting space at Realscreen Summit 2019, contact realscreen sales at 416-408-0863, 1-888-278-6426 x316, or


MIPCOM Stand C15.A6, Croisette 15 Documentary Mini-Series / Special: 2 x one hour A Bristow Global Media Inc. and Electric Pictures Production


14/09/2018 13:15


I like ‘difficult.’ In

2008, following stints leading two of the biggest buyers in factual content on both sides of the Atlantic, and after co-founding one of the UK’s biggest non-fiction prodcos, Jane Root began the next chapter of her career — founding production company Nutopia. With a penchant for projects that are “huge, complex things” (see One Strange Rock for Nat Geo, or America: The Story of Us for History among others), and offices in the U.S. and UK, one could surmise that Root saw the future of global, premium non-fiction in plain view, and acted accordingly. Here, Root discusses the prodco’s first 10 years, its place in the factual production landscape, and what’s next. Having co-founded Wall to Wall and then becoming a buyer in the UK and the U.S., how did those experiences inform your mission statement for Nutopia? One of the interesting things about being a buyer is that you understand what you generally get offered lots of, and what you don’t get offered very much of. I’d done


September / October ‘18

a piece of work when I was at the BBC where we compared what were the things we were offered loads of — commissionable shows versus slots. You’d be offered so many nice one-off docs on things, and you’d never have enough room to fit them in. Big events that would define your network, and play to the press — you hardly ever were offered any of them. When I went to Discovery and we did Planet Earth, everyone said, “That was fantastic… When’s the next one?” And we never got offered them, so at the networks, we’d wind up creating them ourselves. But I always felt there was a real gap, to do really big, enterprising things. So we definitely had the idea that we should try and offer networks things that were going to be really big for them, and make an impact. The funny thing that’s happened in my career is that I’m now seen as the woman who makes these super-serious, enormous history and science shows, and while I was at the BBC, I was seen as the person who “dumbed down” BBC2, who found The Office and Jamie Oliver. I wasn’t always super-serious. (laughs)


Nutopia CEO Jane Root discusses a decade of megadocs and tackling big topics with bold programming.

You’ve said that there have been times in the past in which you thought you’d “sold the unmakeable project.” Do you have an example of one of those times? Well, there’s One Strange Rock, or the project we have going with PBS at the moment, The Great American Read. They’re huge, complex things. But I’m going to like the challenge. I like ‘difficult.’ I love the fact that we have the reputation of being a company that can take on enormously complex ideas. We consistently hear how risk-averse broadcasters are these days. Your projects aren’t safe and we’d assume they aren’t cheap. How risk-averse do you think the climate is? Yes, there are some scared people out there, but look at what some of the streaming services are doing. There is risk-taking going on. One of the areas we’re particularly interested in right now is where the feature doc meets big knowledge, where you can merge a documentary sensibility with things that are much more knowledge based. We’re finding real interest in really big things. (continued on page 016)

MIPCOM Stand C15.A6, Croisette 15 Non-Fiction Series: 13 x one hour A Bristow Global Media Inc. Production


14/09/2018 15:44


Nat Geo’s One Strange Rock, produced with Protozoa Pictures, is one of Nutopia’s recent successes.


(continued from page 014) And obviously the rise of the SVODs is in line with that approach. One of the other core ideas of the company is “global,” and that was challenging when we set up. I’d always be explaining to people that I lived in the U.S. and we have an office in London, and now there’s the sense that we have a much more global sensibility. Everyone gets that now. With the project we’re making at the moment, one of the things that helped sell it is that we knew it would have an audience in Eastern Europe and in Russia. There’s another project we’re making that is in a European language — an eight-hour documentary series that isn’t in English. Having our feet in Europe is helpful. It’s a global market now, and that’s one of the other big changes over the last 10 years.

One of the other interesting things you’ve noted about the company is that it’s had relatively low turnover in terms of staff. Tell me a bit about the company culture, and why you think that is the case. Well, people just seem to stick around. We like people who stay, and we look after people. We try to be a place that gives people really interesting things to work on. We’ve had one marriage in the company, between people who didn’t know each other before working with us. I suppose it’s a little like it was at Wall to Wall. A really good company is a community. It’s not a “workspace” — it’s a place where people can feel inspired and creative, and that they have the capacity to develop and do different stuff. Having a good place to work is important to me, because I feel that often the best television is made by “gangs” — people who have fun together.

“I love the fact that we have the reputation of being a company that can take on complex ideas.”

You’ve moved into other areas as well. Partnering with Roast Beef Productions has brought you closer to the feature doc world. Are there any other areas you’d like to expand into? I’d love to do things that, as well as being big and serious, would be big, serious and fun. (laughs) I think that’s something you’ll see in the next year or two. We can make a lot of different things and I think you’ll see it broadening.


September / October ‘18

Even in the span of 10 years, the look of the production community has changed considerably, through multiple mergers and acquisitions. It’s rare to find a “true indie” these days. Why do you remain independent? It’s a bit like me being surprised about us going for 10 years. I feel like we’re still figuring it out. We get asked a lot but… we have too many things to do. I’m in LA having a meeting with Will Smith’s guys about One Strange Rock 2, I’ve got more meetings with more amazing people… that’s not really like “work,” is it? I never get over the fact that it’s an incredible privilege to have a job like this.

Jeremy Fox has departed DRG, the London-based distribution company he founded in 2007, to work on projects outside of the group. Having completed the terms of his earn out as part of a deal with NENT Group in 2013 to purchase DRG, Fox has left to focus on new, unspecified projects. NENT Group has bought out Fox’s remaining shares in the business. Morten Mogensen (pictured) will be appointed chairman of DRG, with Richard Halliwell stepping into the role of CEO of DRG-owned scripted drama division Atrium TV. The two roles were previously held by Fox.

London-headquartered BBC Studios has appointed Seb Curtis as head of development and Kat Lennox as senior executive producer to its factual entertainment and events team. Curtis joins BBC Studios from London-based television prodco Voltage TV where he was a development executive producer working across the company’s factual entertainment and documentary slate, developing a range of content including The Big Family Cooking Showdown for BBC2, as well as accessbased documentaries. Lennox was previously an executive producer at Boundless, working on a range of factual entertainment shows. Lennox’s career credits include I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here for ITV1, Love Island and Take Me Out: The Gossip for ITV2, Shipwrecked for Channel 4 and Grossbusters for MTV.

Los Angeles-based unscripted prodco Fly on the Wall Entertainment has promoted Emmynominated producer Patrick Agans to executive vice president of development. In his expanded role, Agans is responsible for managing the company’s development slate and team in the Los Angeles office. He will also continue to shepherd character-driven docuseries and original formats for both U.S. broadcast and cable networks, as well as digital platforms. Since joining Fly on the Wall in 2014, Agans has spearheaded development for more than a dozen series, specials and pilots, including Flip or Flop Atlanta on HGTV; Katy Perry: Witness World Wide on YouTube; and the upcoming Million Dollar Mile with LeBron James for CBS. At Discovery, Scott Lewers has been elevated to executive vice president of multiplatform programming and digital media, while Jennifer Williams will now serve in the newly-created role of executive vice president of global talent management and brand strategy and operations, Discovery and factual. Lewers, most recently SVP of multi-platform programming and digital media at TLC, will be tasked with Discovery’s content strategy and schedule, research and insights, multi-platform live and preshow content, as well as the overall digital strategy for Discovery and Science Channel. Williams’ career with Discovery has spanned more than 20 years, and she most recently served as head of global talent management and operations. In her new role, she will lead the global talent management and operations teams in New York, Los Angeles, Maryland, Knoxville and London supporting Discovery’s brands. Williams will also be responsible for developing and driving the network’s factual business strategies and operational efficiencies, as well as leading and executing special projects and developing partnership opportunities. Meanwhile, at Discovery Networks Canada, longtime exec Ken MacDonald is retiring from the company after 15 years. MacDonald was general manager and vice president for Discovery in Canada since 2015, and held the VP post since 2005. He will step down later this year.


POINTED ARROW: A Producer’s Perspective


ow do you fi nd, develop and nurture the key talent that make your shows? In our ever-evolving business this is the one challenge that never goes away. Creating quality content is totally dependent on the abilities of individuals, whether they be freshfaced runners or stressed out series producers. There’s a virtuous circle here. Good talent make good shows. Good shows get recommissioned. Everyone’s a winner. But getting it wrong is grim. You expend so much effort getting the shows greenlit, so why risk having it go horribly wrong when you hand it over to a less than stellar production team? When it turns into a production nightmare, it is truly miserable — and it can happen to anyone. Clearing up the mess can take months and can hit both your credibility and bottom line. So this fear of failure is perhaps the biggest incentive to be all over your talent strategy. We at Arrow Media are active in production in both the UK and U.S. and it’s the same story. Whilst we have a strong core of production staff, we do, like most companies, rely on a freelance business with people moving on quickly, and upwards, from project to project, company to company. This is healthy, in part. There is something to learn from every company, and one of the most important things for us when picking

people is to see where they have worked. The perpetual challenge is that people can look great on paper, but when you get to the production front-line, the pressure really starts. It’s here that reputations are made or broken. I have been shocked a few times by the disparity between the enticing resume and the horrible reality. The indie community is a close-knit tribe born from the many thousands of hours of collective production experience we all have. It’s where a commendable honesty prevails. Whether we are using the indie network to trade feedback on talent new to us, or requesting feedback through the formal processes of the big media groups, it’s essential for us all that we are vigilant to avoid putting the wrong people in the wrong job. If you are actively seeking out talent that is new to the industry — our lifeblood — you may already have appointed a talent executive or manager. This big change in the indie sector may partly be a response to how challenging and time-consuming finding the right people has become, but it’s a huge opportunity to properly engage with future stars. Like many indies, we balanced the cost against the benefits — and we took the plunge. Suddenly someone was managing the torrent of CVs that come in each week, actively seeking

“People can look great on paper, but when you get to the production front-line, the pressure really starts.”

(continued on page 018)



(continued from page 017) out the bright new things and thoroughly screening potential hires. They not only play a vital role in running the diversity strategies we rightly embrace, but they also relieve the constant pressure of crewing up productions and, importantly, help us plan for the future. There is, however, one strategy which I am convinced is better than any other approach. It’s a simple truth — nothing is better than growing your own. Bringing on talent at a junior level, training them as best you can, and exposing them to the challenges of a busy company with a vibrant mix of projects is unbeatable. They quickly learn how both our company and the content business itself works. They understand working with networks. In a surprisingly short time they become highly effective members of their teams. It’s great for them. In an unpredictable freelance world, it gives them a real career trajectory, and a sense of job security. And it’s great for us. As I gaze around the office I can see people who only a couple of years ago were at the bottom of the production ladder, but who are now working at a high level of responsibility, and with a glittering career ahead. How gratifying it is to have a flourishing, in-house talent pool. There is one big risk here. Your welltrained, highly experienced rising stars are very attractive to your rivals. Just as we talent scout around the industry, so other indies are looking at us. I’ve learned to take a relaxed view of the talent merry-go-round. I think if people want to leave, or are offered better jobs elsewhere, that’s fine. It’s much better to have a friendly rather than acrimonious departure. And guess what? So many times, they return with an extra level of experience — a real justification for trying the ‘grow your own’ approach. John Smithson is creative director of Arrow Media, an indie he co-founded in 2011. Previously he was chief executive at Darlow Smithson Productions.


September / October ‘18




today’s competitive work environment, effective leadership is essential for an organization or team to succeed. The following skills will help you distinguish yourself as a leader in any professional work setting.



recognizes the difference between hearing and listening. Listening goes beyond simply hearing, or taking in the words. Listening means absorbing what’s being said. Through use of good listening skills, effective listeners foster a work environment that values the exchange of ideas, and demonstrate that they are approachable and available to all members of the team. A critical component of productive listening is asking questions and working to understand varying points of view. Strong leaders seek constructive input from their team, not just validation of their own thoughts and opinions. A strong leader is capable of synthesizing information from all contributing team members and acknowledging a collective effort. Indeed, the most respected leaders thank the team for opening up, and congratulate them on a job well done. This demonstrates that the leader appreciates the team’s efforts and welcomes their input. Team members who feel valued and acknowledged are likely to continue offering thoughts and ideas that will help the organization succeed.



direction and clarity in order to meet goals and objectives. This requires proactive and decisive leadership by an individual willing to make important and tough decisions. A proactive leader will take the initiative to prioritize and delegate tasks when needed, especially when the team may seem to be adrift or stagnating. Top leaders also are skilled at recognizing, commending, and calling upon everyone’s strengths. Taking steps to capitalize on the skills of individuals motivates them and helps the team to move forward with strength and drive.



Strong leaders have a high level of emotional awareness. This means they can identify and manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of their teammates. These leaders are sensitive to signs of overwork, show interest in their teammates’ ideas and goals, and convey compassion and empathy. Being sensitive to the emotional needs of team members helps bolster productivity and effectiveness because the team members feel validated and cared for.



A strong leader manages with consistency, reliability, fairness and honor, engendering trust and confidence among team members. An accountable leader follows through on all requests agreed to, and expects the same from teammates. Likewise, an accountable leader must be willing to say no from time to time when, for instance, the leader or team has reached capacity and has no more bandwidth to take on additional tasks. Effective leaders also must be able to take responsibility when things do not go according to plan. Everybody makes mistakes. It is up to the leader to own up to a failure, and move forward confidently and gracefully. Applying these key guidelines to develop your leadership skills will bring you one step closer to becoming a real leader. Chris Palmer is a former 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 MFA candidate at American University. •

MIPCOM stand no. P-1.L2, P-1.M1

AZ_Real_Screen_Sammelanzeige_History_RZ.indd 1

27.08.18 11:16


Younger at heart

The BBC’s Blue Planet II reeled in 2.3 million viewers in the 16-34 demo.



even years ago, Danny Cohen, at the time the controller for BBC1, announced in a speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival that the British pubcaster was aiming to produce more programs specifically targeted to older viewers. That strategy served as the BBC’s attempt to ensure the range of its audience was reflected back at itself while quelling ongoing criticisms that its commissioning was shifting its focus to millennials. Fast-forward to the present and long gone are the days when the natural history genre’s viewership skewed older. It now seems broadcasters and producers alike have cracked the formula to captivate Gen Z — born between 1996 and the present — and millennial audiences, a traditionally difficult demographic to reach, with the beauty of the natural world. BBC1’s oceanic blue-chip juggernaut Blue Planet II, which traveled to 39 countries to capture more than 6,000 hours of footage in all of the Earth’s oceans, made a huge splash with young viewers across Britain. The series, narrated by the venerable David Attenborough, reeled in 2.3 million viewers aged 16-34 and a total of 14.01 million throughout the UK, serving as the region’s most-watched program in 2017. The program also boasted the four most-watched single episodes for four consecutive weeks last November. (All figures were calculated by BARB, the

Aided by heartstopping viral video clips and immersive production approaches, natural history content is connecting with younger — and larger — audiences across platforms, which is good news for the genre and its proponents.

organization that compiles audience measurement and television ratings in the UK, and include +1 and HD data where appropriate.) Similarly, in 2016, the Attenborough-presented Planet Earth II, performed well for the BBC among young viewers, ranking third overall for the year and drawing an average total audience of 11.92 million, bolstered by the nail-biting “Snake vs. Iguana” viral clip that garnered millions of views on its own. The sophomore episode, entitled “Mountains” generated 13.14 million viewers and served as the series’ most successful episode among youths, reaching 1.8 million viewers aged 16-34. “There’s no doubt that social media has driven and built all of the success that we would have had on linear,” says Lisa Opie, managing director of factual at BBC Studios, “and plying the young audiences with content that delivers on things we’ve never seen before, full of awe, full of wonder, and that people can share and comment [on] — that has been really, really powerful.

“All of that paranoia that we had in the old days that if [viewers] see it online, they won’t return to linear because they’ve seen all the great bits, just isn’t true,” she continues. “What happens is that people do want to watch the digital and they do want to watch the linear channel transmission.” There’s a transformational change afoot with certain broadcasters including the BBC, and it involves syncing digital and linear programming approaches. For example, in an effort to “age down” its wildlife viewing audience, the British pubcaster made the conscious decision to shift its natural history block to an hour earlier on Sunday nights, from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. “The audience viewing numbers went up hugely,” remarks Plimsoll Production’s head of natural history Martha Holmes, who oversees the UK-based prodco’s blue chip series, including Wild Britain and Camp Zambia. “It was a very small thing to do but it made a massive impact on their audiences.”



“When you’re talking about Gen Z and millennials, the idea of being able to experience things on their terms is absolutely relevant.”

Nat Geo’s One Strange Rock from Nutopia and Protozoa Pictures used a cinematic approach for its natural history/ science hybrid...

... while its Yellowstone Live used a multi-platform strategy to captivate viewers of all ages.

Such moves can improve linear’s standing in the battle for younger audiences. Mobile video is fueling the fast-paced growth of streaming across all age groups — particularly among Gen Z and millennials, 21% of whom are spending three hours a day consuming TV shows and video content on their smartphones, according to research and advisory firm Trifecta Research Group. Teens and young adults are prompting content providers to reassess their business strategies as alternative platforms optimized


September / October ‘18

for smaller screens continue to infiltrate the industry and spur ongoing declines in payTV subscriptions. Increasingly, broadcasters with natural history in their schedules have been programming for the younger generations by placing digital at the heart of it all. As such, the Bristol-headquartered Plimsoll doesn’t pitch a program without first thinking about how the series would work digitally, according to Holmes. “We need to stay young of mind and spirit, stay in touch with whom that age group

wants to see or who that message should be delivered to,” she says. Daniels National Geographic has leaned into the younger audience by delivering a more accessible, emotionally engaging and immersive experience of the wildlife on screen. The key for Nat Geo is to utilize three categories when programming for the natural world: live, crossover hits and narrative. Live programming in natural history is becoming an increasingly important part of the 21st Century Fox-owned network’s strategy. Live, says Nat Geo’s Geoff Daniels, has the power and potential to create experiences that can build community and attract a younger audience, as the viewer can connect what they’re experiencing on air with the other elements the network can bring online via its social media platforms. “Live is about ultimately giving more control back to the viewer to determine what experience they want to have,” explains Daniels, global EVP and GM of Nat Geo Wild & Kids Media, and interim president of National Geographic’s unscripted content. “Particularly when you’re talking about Gen Z and millennials, that idea of being able to experience things on their terms is absolutely resonant and relevant to the way that they want to live — they don’t

SPECIALIST FACTUAL REPORT want to be boxed in. The way we’re approaching live absolutely achieves that.” The focus on live tentpole programming has paid dividends for Nat Geo, who in Dinnage August launched event special Yellowstone Live, which attracted 13 million total viewers across National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild during its four-night multi-platform run, according to the network. The series utilized a complex system of 34 live cameras, 200 crew and cutting-edge, cell-phone bundling technology to broadcast in the most remote locations to showcase the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem in real time. One Strange Rock from Jane Root’s Nutopia and Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures, meanwhile, took full advantage of Nat Geo’s “crossover hits” ethos by blending genres and storytelling techniques to create something novel and fresh. The hybridized science and natural history series, along with Savage Kingdom — which we’ll come back to later — attracted more than three million viewers to National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild when it aired in the spring of 2018. “The mad rush to sample that experience through that platform really gave us a sense that by hybridizing you could create crossover hits that could really expand the base for the genre. That’s something that we’re going to continue to look to do more

Animal Planet’s Dodo Heroes is a collaboration with digital animal content brand The Dodo.


September / October ‘18

“The very best natural history content engages the viewer in the head and the heart.” of,” Daniels says. Nat Geo Wild’s anticipated global event series Savage Kingdom has hit strongly on the network’s narrative philosophy, and “liberally” draws from the character-driven storytelling techniques of drama rather than just approaching the subject scientifically. Filmed in 4K and produced by Icon Films and Natural History Film Unit Botswana, the series examines warring animal tribes battling for survival during a deadly drought in remote Savute, Botswana, part of Chobe National Park. “That too has really widened the audience in terms of not only the male-female mix but how well it’s performed globally, in the U.S. and international markets,” Daniels adds, “and bringing in an audience that is on linear younger than what we typically see for the genre.” Millennial viewership for One Strange Rock and Savage Kingdom was up

+64% and +31%, respectively, versus the network prime average, according to the network. Younger viewers gravitate towards content that is funny, useful, beautiful or inspiring — the FUBI filter — and they want to be able to share it, says Susanna Dinnage, global president of Animal Planet. If content hits two or three parts of the filter, the likelihood of it being shared increases. The Discovery-owned broadcaster recently partnered with Group Nine’s digital animal content brand The Dodo on a series that featured stories of animals in need. Dodo Heroes — The Dodo’s first-ever linear TV series — was also Animal Planet’s first-ever global series launch, premiering in 220 countries and territories in June. It ranked as the network’s most watched freshman series to date, reaching more than 36 million total viewers, more than half of which came from outside the U.S., according to Animal Planet. In recent years, Animal Planet has increasingly focused on 360-degree approaches to its natural history content, offering its audience the opportunity to go deeper on stories or to find out more about some of the animals featured in the program. The network, adds Dinnage, is also seeking out knowledgeable talent that can bring that information in an engaging way, through their own passion and enthusiasm. “Great storytelling will always win. If you push the envelope too far in over-dramatizing or lean on technology that doesn’t enhance that storytelling, the joy and wonder can be lost and the ratings won’t sustain,” Dinnage maintains. “Natural history content is emotional — the very best engages the viewer in the head and the heart. Great moments in great stories are the key.”





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September / October ‘18

This diversification also applies to the methods of storytelling employed in the projects. Gardner points to an upcoming, archive-driven docuseries, Chasing The Moon for the ‘American Experience’ docustrand. The upcoming four-parter from director/ producer Robert Stone tells the story of the space race using as its primary sources the voices of the participants. The series coincides with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing in 2019. Successful returning titles for the pubcaster in the personal history space include Finding Your Roots from Ark Media and Kunhardt McGee Productions, and We’ll Meet Again with Ann Curry from Blink Films, which also returns for a second season at the end of October.

Native America from Providence Pictures makes its debut on PBS in October.

different points of view. Gardner points to the upcoming series Native America (4 x 60 minutes) from Providence Pictures. The series tells the story of America’s first peoples using voices and viewpoints not often found on screen. “We get deep into stories that allow you to explore different perspectives and not one definitive version of events,” says Gardner.


he British pubcaster has a host of history commissions across its various channels for the upcoming fall/winter season with subject matter that ranges from the Royals to Syria’s ruling family. On BBC2, the miniseries Assad (3 x 60 minutes, from 72 Films) delves into the inner world of the Assad family dynasty that has ruled Syria for decades. Also airing recently on BBC2: the 2 x 60-minute feature Margaret, about the life of Princess Margaret, from BBC Studios. Coming back for second series runs are Ancient Invisible Cities (3 x 60 minutes; BBC Studios), A House Through Time (4 x 60 minutes; Twenty Twenty Productions) and Handmade, a 6 x 60-minute series from DSP Northern Ireland about Britain’s industrial heritage. As the BBC is looking for returnable projects,




he history genre is part of the American pubcaster’s core mission, and one that delivered big returns in 2017. The 10-part, 18-hour documentary series The Vietnam War from directors and producers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick was a huge success, averaging 6.7 million viewers across its 10-night run according to Live+7 numbers. “It’s hard to emphasize how good it [Vietnam War] was,” remarks Bill Gardner, VP of programming and development. With the move towards binge-worthy content, there is a hunger for in-depth, serialized treatments of historical events. Thus, PBS is currently looking for projects of scale that showcase major events or cultural institutions in the post-Second World War era that, according to Gardner, “help to explain who we are as a people.” PBS is also looking for stories that provide


With the fall season upon us and 2019 around the corner, realscreen reached out to history commissioners across Europe and North America to find out what projects are on their slates and how they’re approaching the genre.

BBC2 explored the life of Princess Margaret via a twohour project from BBC Studios.

Simon Young, commissioning editor for history, notes that A House Through Time is endlessly returnable due to its premise of examining one house, and the people who lived there, from when it was built to the present day. The commissioner says the pubcaster is looking for access-driven history projects, as well as those

with a sense of urgency for modern-day audiences. Premiering on the BBC in 2019 is the eight-part, live event series Icons. Produced by 72 Films, the series spotlights legendary figures of the 20th century, ranging from world leaders to inventors, and from revolutionaries to entertainers. At the close of each episode, viewers will be asked to vote for a winning icon in the particular category featured, with the overall winner to be chosen in a final vote. “It’s an attempt to bring real scale to history programming like Blue Planet did for natural history. We want to find ways to bring scale to audiences,” says Young.


erman pubcaster ZDF has two main slots for history programming on its network: its docustrand ‘Terra X’ and ZDF History. Kristina Hollstein, director of acquisitions and coproductions, documentaries for ZDF Enterprises, tells realscreen the network tends to focus on history with a German angle. Such recent titles include Myths of West and East Germany from Dokuvista and History of the Stasi from Februar Film. While maintaining a spotlight on Germany’s past, ZDF also explores historical topics of international interest, often in coproduction with international partners for projects to be shopped globally by ZDF Enterprises. Projects that fit that bill include America´s True Discoverers from Peter Prestel Filmproduktion, which explores who may have set foot in the New World before Columbus; History of Drugs; History of Forensic Medicine; Exodus: History of the Jews from Interscience; and Chariot Race, an international coproduction with Lion TV detailing chariot races of antique times. ZDF’s digital channel is also commissioning international series. A major project currently


ZDF projects explore historical topics of international interest, as seen via this shoot in St. Petersburg.

underway is the 10-part series Rise and Fall of the Nazis. This series will be available in 2020 and is a coproduction with ZDF Enterprises. Hollstein notes there is a need for modern history programming covering the final decades of the last century. To that end, historical biographies of internationally known figures are also of interest to ZDF. Hollstein says the


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pubcaster is currently working on a film on world renowned boxer and activist Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, Great Crimes in Antiquity, billed as a true crime-meets-archaeology series, uses modern forensic methods to tackle spectacular cases occurring during the Egyptian, Roman, Aztec and Chinese Empires. The program is slated for 2019.


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Smithsonian Channel


he Smithsonian Channel has a range of history programming slated for the end of 2018 and into 2019. Smithsonian’s chief programming officer and EVP of production, David Royle, tells realscreen that the upcoming six-part series America’s Hidden Stories, from Lone Wolf Media, re-examines key episodes in history as cold cases or crime scenes. Royle says Smithsonian audiences also have an avid interest in ancient history programming, so the net is continuing to look for stories about ancient Egypt and other bygone civilizations. The channel is also looking for more material on Maritime history as well as content on the Monarchy, which the broadcaster has had success with via The Coronation, a joint venture with the BBC. In 2019, the network will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon with the six-part series Apollo’s Moon Shot (w/t). Produced by Smithsonian Channel’s in-house production team, the series will spotlight the men and women who made the mission possible. The stories will be told through a combination of archive film, oral histories, and artifacts from the vaults of the National Air and Space Museum.


America’s Hidden Stories looks at history through a mystery lens.

Another important anniversary will be marked in 2019 by the network: the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York’s Greenwich Village, often referred to as the spark that led to the gay liberation movement and the fight for LGBTQ rights in America. Returning history hits for the channel include America In Color from Arrow Studios, which will delve into major cultural themes in upcoming episodes, including titans of

industry and the Wild West. Back for a second season is the docustrand ‘The Lost Tapes’ from Tom Jenning’s 1895 Films, which crafts its doc stories solely through archival footage, with no narration. Upcoming episodes include an examination of the 1968 Tet Offensive, and a look at the 1974 “Super Outbreak” — the second-largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period, which ripped through parts of North America and Canada. •



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Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes, and the range of topics and genres represented in the clips submitted to realscreen for consideration for this year’s MIPCOM Picks echoes that sentiment. From hilarious unscripted formats to hard-hitting exposés, and from breathtaking natural history to fresh takes on historical subjects, if our selections here are any indication, buyers will have a wealth of tantalizing projects to pick from in Cannes. Congrats to our Best in Show, which wins its submitting company a pass to the 2019 Realscreen Summit in New Orleans.

FREE SOLO Partners: Little Monster Films, Itinerant Media, Parkes+MacDonald, Image Nation, National Geographic Documentary Films; distributed for broadcast by Fox Network Group Content Distribution Length: 1 x 120 minutes Premiered: Telluride Film Festival, 2018 Rights available: All broadcast rights, worldwide

Alex Honnold has made a career out of tempting fate, as one of the top rock climbers of recent times. But the challenge that he undertook in June of 2017 — a “free solo” climb of the 3,000-foot peaks of El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park — was well beyond his previous adventures. Filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi — the team behind 2015’s mountaineering doc Meru — followed Honnold for two years as he plotted the ascent. The film captures the painstaking preparation involved in attempting such a feat, while charting another significant development in the young climber’s life happening at the same time — the beginning of a romantic relationship. And of course, there’s the climb itself, conducted without ropes or any protective equipment. Free Solo provides viewers with breathtaking adventure that rivals any scripted thriller fare.

FARAH DIBA PAHLAVI: THE LAST EMPRESS Partners: ARTE G.E.I.E., Interscience Film GmbH; distributed by ARTE Distribution; broadcast on ARTE G.E.I.E., MBC Al Arabiya Length: 1 x 52 minutes Aired: October 2018 (ARTE) Rights available: All rights except theatrical, worldwide

Farah Diba Pahlavi made history as the first, and only, empress of Iran. Alongside her husband, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, she fled the country in 1979 as dissatisfaction with the Iranian monarchy led to pronounced volatility and violent protest, culminating in the Iranian Revolution. With access to the former monarch as well as her private film and photographic archive, this film explores the life of an empress in exile, following her in her adopted home of Paris, as well as to Cairo as she marks the anniversary of her husband’s death.



CULTS AND EXTREME BELIEFS Partners: The Intellectual Property Corporation for A&E; distributed by A+E Networks Length: 9 x 60 minutes Aired: May 2018 (U.S.) Rights available: All rights, worldwide

In October of last year, the New York Times ran a piece concerning what it called “a secretive group where women are branded,” based in upstate New York. That sparked widespread interest in the activities of NXIVM, which presented itself to the outside world as a self-help organization, but, with subsequent defections and testimonials from former members, is now alleged to be a “sex cult.” Its founder Keith Raniere, was recently arrested and charged with sex trafficking and related offenses. A&E, having scored success with its series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (also produced by IPC), has teamed up with investigative journalist Elizabeth Vargas to explore controversial organizations, including NXIVM and others, through revealing and shocking interviews with former members.

EYES OF ORSON WELLES Partners: Bofa Productions, BBC, Creative Scotland; distributed by Dogwoof, NonStop, IWonder, Midas Filmes, AMA, A Contracorriente, Criterion, DDDream; broadcasters: BBC, FilmStruck, Channel 8 (Israel) Length: 1 x 110 minutes Premiered: Cannes, 2018 Rights available: World excluding U.S., UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, China, Scandinavia, Israel

Executive produced by Michael Moore and receiving a commendation of special distinction within the Cannes Film Festival’s Golden Eye Documentary Award program, this feature from Irish director Mark Cousins explores the life and work of the iconic cultural multi-hyphenate through a unique lens. Through Welles’ daughter, Beatrice, Cousins gained access to paintings, drawings and sketches by Welles stretching across decades, and numerous geographic haunts. And through those art works, Cousins draws connections between Welles’ innate creative nature, as magnified through his films, and his civic and political philosophies.

NATIVE AMERICA Partners: Gary Glassman/ Providence Pictures; distributed by PBS International Length: 4 x 54 minutes Premiered: October 2018 (PBS) Rights available: All rights, worldwide

From Gary Glassman and his Providence Pictures, this comprehensive four-part series spans two continents to reveal the full geographic, cultural and spiritual tapestry of Native America. To depict the historical and ongoing impact of Native culture on the world at large, Glassman and his crew spent a year with various Native American communities to gain their trust for telling their stories. As a result, the team was able to capture many ceremonies never before put to film, including the Haudenosaunee Wampum Belt ceremony that represents the coming together of the five warring nations to form the first democracy in the Americas.

STREET VET Partners: Blizzard Road Productions for ABC; distributed by ABC Commercial Length: 13 x 30 minutes Airing: TBD Rights available: All rights, worldwide


September / October ‘18

Kwane Stewart is a veterinary doctor and passionate animal advocate. Serving as chief veterinary officer and national director of Humane Hollywood, and its “No Animals Were Harmed” program, Stewart is familiar with glitz and glamour. But in this series, he turns his attention to the pets beloved by those on the fringes of society — the homeless. While offering his services to help the pets of those who have fallen on tough circumstances, he also provides support to the men, women and families who depend on their pets to carry them through.



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MERCHANTS OF THE WILD Partners: Buck Productions and Little Bear Big Wolf Pictures; distributed by Beyond Distribution Length:13 x 30 minutes Airing: Late 2018/early 2019 (APTN, Canada) Rights available: All rights worldwide, excluding Canada

In a world where technology touches every facet of our lives and convenience is all-important, modern society has grown woefully out of touch with the land that has always sustained us. In this docuseries, produced in Canada for APTN, six participants from Indigenous backgrounds hit the wilderness to learn from Elders and Knowledge Keepers about how their ancestors navigated life’s challenges. Traveling along routes used in the fur trade of the 16th century, the young participants gain invaluable knowledge about their own history and their individual strengths and weaknesses.

NAZI MURDER MYSTERIES Partners: Like a Shot Entertainment; distributed by TCB Media Rights Length: 6 x 60 minutes Airing: October 2018 (UK) Rights available: All rights worldwide, excluding UK

Part of the ‘Murder Mysteries’ docustrand, this series looks at numerous mysterious deaths that occurred during one of the darkest eras in human history. Using expert interviews, dramatic reconstruction and archive material, each stand-alone episode examines the true story behind some of the grisly tales surrounding the Nazi regime and its undoing, including the deaths of Hitler’s niece, Gebi Raubal; Hermann Goering, and others.

AMERICA’S HIDDEN STORIES Partners: Lone Wolf Documentary Group for Smithsonian Networks; distributed by Off the Fence Length: 8 x 60 minutes Airing: TBD Rights available: All rights worldwide, excluding North America

Sometimes, for whatever reason, the recorded history of a particular event is incomplete, and it isn’t until new evidence is found concerning the event itself, that a clear picture of what really happened emerges. This series uses the findings of archaeologists, forensic scientists and historians to delve deeply into the stories we thought we knew, but are discovering new dimensions of. From Pearl Harbor to the Salem Witch Trials, America’s Hidden Stories shines its spotlight on the dark corners of the stories that shaped American history, illuminating much in the process.

YOU KIDDIN’ ME? Partners: Produced by Lionsgate (Format only) Length: 10 x 30 minutes Aired: September 2018 (Facebook Watch) Rights available: Format rights, worldwide

Combining the prank and hidden camera genres and slotting in several celeb families as talent results in a hilarious format that could be the offspring of Punk’d or Candid Camera. This series, which made its debut via Facebook Watch, puts celebrities at the mercy of their families, who guide the good sports through wacky situations with unsuspecting people from the safety of a production studio. Celeb guests include Kris Jenner ( who gets to throw a temper tantrum at an art gallery opening — supposedly her own — under the direction of her daughters) Zoe Saldana (pictured, with sisters Mariel and Cisely) and Lisa Rinna.



THE RESCUE LIST Partners: Directed by Alyssa Fedele, Zachary Fink; distributed by ro*co films Length: 1 x 82 minutes; 1 x 58 minutes Premiered: April 2018 (San Francisco Film Festival) Rights available: All rights, worldwide

Executive produced by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), this documentary brings the viewer into the shadowy world of child trafficking and modern slavery through the stories of children in Ghana, who have been rescued from a life of being slaves to fishermen. The film also explores the work of the organization behind the rescues — Challenging Heights, founded by James Kofi Annan, who escaped such circumstances himself as a youth. Highlighting the conditions that lead parents to sell their children into slavery, the doc also points toward the hard road to rehabilitation that needs to be taken once the rescues are made.

MYSTERY OF THE LOST PAINTINGS Partners: Sky Arts Hub and Balandi Productions; distributed by Sky Vision Length: 7 x 60 minutes Aired: May 2018 (Sky Arts) Rights available: Contact Sky Vision

This series shines a spotlight on the stories behind works of art from globally renowned painters that, through a variety of reasons, didn’t wind up taking their rightful places in the world’s finest galleries, but gained notoriety nonetheless. Marrying cuttingedge technology with artistic prowess, teams of artists attempt to recreate lost paintings from such masters as Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh and Graham Sutherland, while the tantalizing stories behind the fates of the art works are also revealed.

ORANGUTAN JUNGLE SCHOOL Partners: NHNZ for Love Nature; distributed by Blue Ant International Length: 10 x 60 minutes Premiered: August 2018 (Love Nature) Rights available: Contact Blue Ant International

At the Nyaru Mentang Orangutan Rescue Center, young orphan orangutans are given a chance to learn all they need to know about living in the wild, and with graduation comes the chance to live freely in Borneo’s jungles. From the arrival of the world’s only reported albino orangutan to the planning and implementation of a “banana heist” by one of the more enterprising students, this series gives viewers an incredible glimpse into the world of this endangered species, and the truly unique service designed to reintegrate these animals into the wild.

GRENFELL: THE FIRST 24 HOURS Partners: Mentorn Media for ITV; distributed by Passion Distribution Length: 1 x 60 minutes Aired: June 2018 (UK) Rights available: All rights, worldwide


September / October ‘18

In June of last year, a 24-story tower block in West London was ravaged in a fire that took the lives of 72 and left hundreds homeless. Using news coverage as well as eyewitness footage captured on phones, and interviews with survivors and brave first responders, this one-hour doc explores one of the more tragic days in modern UK history, from the first flames to the moment that fire crews finally got the raging inferno under control.


INTO THE OKAVANGO Partners: National Geographic Studios for Nat Geo Wild; distributed by Fox Network Group Content Distribution Length: 1 x 120 minutes Premiered: April 2018 (Tribeca Film Festival) Rights available: All broadcast rights worldwide, excluding U.S.

Helmed by Neil Gelinas, the film follows a team of scientists and explorers as they traverse a river system that stretches across three countries and provides water to approximately one million people, the world’s largest population of African elephants, and great numbers of cheetahs, lions and bird species. Following Dr. Steve Boyes and his team as they journey through the Okavango’s source rivers in Angola, through Namibia and then into the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Gelinas and crew capture moments of rich natural beauty, as well as harrowing close calls faced by the team as it works to protect the river basin from the threats it is now facing.

THE WALL Partners: Rondo Media; distributed by Cineflix Rights Length: 6 x 60 minutes Airing: TBD, S4C Wales and JTV Korea Rights available: All rights worldwide, excluding South Korea (JTV Region)

As a migrant crisis and enflamed political rhetoric concerning the desire for stronger borders reach a critical point, this series, which looks at six “iconic” man-made barriers from around the world, certainly is a timely one. From the Demilitarized Zone that splits the two Koreas to the U.S./Mexico border that American president Donald Trump is looking to fortify, the six-part series from Welsh prodco Rondo Media explores how what divides us ultimately impacts us.

MANSON’S BLOODLINE Partners: MY Entertainment for Reelz; distributed by DRG Length: 4 x 60 minutes Airing: 2019 Rights available: All rights, worldwide

How would you handle being related by blood to one of the most notorious murderers in history? It’s a very real truth for Jason Freeman, grandson of the late Charles Manson. This series provides unfiltered access to Freeman as he comes to grips with his background by attempting to better understand his grandfather. Viewers will hear phone conversations between Manson and Freeman while the former was serving out his life sentence, and see exclusive footage of Manson’s funeral. DRG commissioned and funded the series, which will make its debut on U.S. cable channel Reelz in 2019.

CHASING MONSTERS: EL NINO Partners: Insight TV Productions and the Go Big Project; broadcast and distributed by Insight TV Length: 10 x 48 minutes Airing: September November 2018 (Insight TV, Europe) Rights available: All rights, worldwide


September / October ‘18

Those of us who have a hard enough time swimming a breaststroke across a calm, chlorinated pool will find much to be in awe of here, as cameras follow big wave surfers during the 2016 El Niño season, in search of maximum wave action. Combing the surf from Oahu, Hawaii to California’s Mavericks, this series depicts these athletic thrill-seekers as they navigate tempests in their personal lives while in search of the perfect wave.

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THE DOUBT MAKERS Partners: Zed, directed by Pascal Vasselin and Franck Cuveillier; distributed by Zed Length: 1 x 52 minutes; 1 x 90 minutes Airing: September 2019 Rights available: All worldwide for TV and VOD

How many times have you heard someone attempt to win an argument about a hot button issue — say, climate change or evolution — by throwing out two words, often accompanied by a mic drop motion: “Because… science!” Well, what about those times when the scientists — for myriad reasons — don’t agree with each other? From earlier, easier times for the tobacco industry, to today’s debates over climate change or the hazards of wireless technology, there are those who are happy to play the role of contrarian if circumstances call for it. But why, and how, do facts become flexible in some people’s hands? An important discussion for today — no doubt about it.

KLEPTOCRACY Partners: Roast Beef Productions, directed by Havana Marking and Sam Hobkinson Length: 1 x 84 minutes Premiering: Fall 2018 Rights available: All rights, worldwide

Government corruption, international money laundering, and celebrity glitz and glamour create a tale of intrigue that rivals a Hollywood thriller. Here, a financier embezzles a whopping US$3.5 billion from Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB, while reporters from three publications — The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and The Wall Street Journal — are attempting to uncover the story, as well as its strange connection to American cinema royalty.

THE FOOD AMBASSADORS Partners: Maagalot for Kan, Israel; distributed by Armoza Formats Length: 8 x 60 minutes Aired: July, 2018 (Israel) Rights available: All rights worldwide, excluding Israel

Celebrated Israeli chef Barak Yehezkeli hosts this culinary travelog with a twist. As a successful chef in his home country, Yehezkeli was often approached by top restaurants in other countries, with the aim to woo him away from his homeland. But while he never took the bait, several other chefs who made their names in Israel did head off to other continents to ply their trade. Here, Yehezkeli jets around the world to meet with the “food ambassadors,” to learn about the reasons behind their moves, their approaches to their work, and of course, to taste their wares.

THE NORWEGIAN FJORDS: LIFE IN THE TWILIGHT Partners: Studio Hamburg DocLights GmbH in association with ORF and NDR; distributed by ZDF Enterprises Length: 1 x 50 minutes Airing: TBD on NDR and ARTE Rights available: All rights outside German speaking territories and Sweden

Sometimes you just want to sit in front of the big flatscreen and be whisked away to somewhere so incredibly gorgeous that you forget about the smog, clamour and chaos of your urban environment. If you fit that bill, this exploration of one of the world’s most majestic landscapes will provide you with what you need. Orcas, humpback whales and salmon are among the inhabitants of this magical part of the world, beautifully photographed here. •



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CULTS AND EXTREME BELIEF New (9 x 1 hour) Genre: Series Emmy® Award-winning journalist Elizabeth Vargas has travelled the world reporting in-depth investigations and conducting newsmaker interviews. Now, in this explosive series, she lifts the lid on life inside some of the world’s most controversial organizations, exposing their manipulative tactics and destructive belief systems. From the self-help group NXIVM and the Twelve Tribes to the United Nation of Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and The Family, each episode takes an immersive look at one group through the eyes of past devotees and gets perspective from believers and leaders who are still inside. WATERGATE New (3 x 2 hours) Genre: Series From Academy Award® winning director Charles Ferguson (Inside Job), Watergate chronicles one of the biggest criminal conspiracies in modern politics, telling the entire story of the Watergate scandal from the first troubling signs in Richard Nixon’s presidency to his resignation and beyond. This definitive documentary series features a roster of some of the most important media, legal and political figures from the scandal, including Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, John Dean, Jill Wine-Banks, Richard BenVeniste, among many others. SEATBELT PSYCHIC New (Primetime ½ hour) Genre: Format Seatbelt Psychic follows a gifted medium posing as a ride-share driver picking up all types of passengers. The driver has never met the passengers before but surprises each unsuspecting person with astonishingly accurate information about their deceased loved ones. The results of the emotional and often shocking messages from the departed can be life-changing. In each standalone episode, this format focuses on people in today’s world with deep connections to those in their past who are now gone. Every psychic reading brings something new: whether an answer to a lingering question, an apology for an argument never resolved or hope for a happier future. No matter the revelations, one thing remains constant: Ride-sharing has never been so entertaining.

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The Alfred Haber Group of Companies – Alfred Haber, Inc., Alfred Haber Distribution, Inc. and Alfred Haber Television, Inc. – together form one of the world’s largest distributors of U.S. network annual events and music specials, and are leading independent distributors of primetime reality series, specials, and documentaries. Please visit

61st ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS® CBS – New! February 10, 2019 Running time: 1 x 210’ Genre: Music/Awards Show It’s all about the performances. Music’s biggest names perform on “Music’s Biggest Night®” – the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards®, the world’s most popular, and most prestigious, televised music awards show, to be broadcast in over 190 territories worldwide. SHALLOW GRAVE Crime & Investigation UK – New! Running time: 8 x 60’ Genre: Reality A murder has been committed elsewhere, likely cleaned of evidence, and then dumped at what investigators call “the deposition site” or shallow grave. Bodies are discovered burnt, dismembered and decomposed but they all share one thing – clues to the killer. HELP! MY HOUSE IS HAUNTED! UKTV – New! Running time: 12 x 60’ Genre: Reality From Zak Bagans, the creator, executive producer and star of Ghost Adventures, the #1 paranormal show in the world, it’s the spine-tingling new series that finds answers to unexplained supernatural phenomena that help families reclaim their properties from unwelcome spirits. HITCHED IN VEGAS New! Running Time: 10 x 60’ Genre: Reality What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. It’s the unique, new reality series that follows loving couples and their wedding parties through the most exciting, elaborate and entertaining wedding adventures ever in the Wedding Capital of the World. TOP 20 FUNNIEST truTV Running time: 49 x 60’ Genre: Reality Laughter is the best medicine…and it makes for a great television show, too. TV’s absolute FUNNIEST show includes comedic commentary over viral videos, home movies, news bloopers and more while we count down the week’s most hilarious videos.

all3media International Berkshire House, 168-173 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7AA P: +44 (0) 20 7845 4350 F: +44 (0) 20 7895 4360 Email: Stand: R8.C20

MIPCOM LISTINGS AVAILABLE Contact Carol Leighton 416.408.0863

GRAYSON PERRY: RITES OF PASSAGE (4 x 1 hour) Swan Films for Channel 4, UK Award-winning artist Grayson Perry explores rituals from around the world, adapting them for everyday Britons to help them through their most significant milestones.

ARTE SALES 8, rue Marceau 92785 Issy-les-Moulineaux Cedex 9 France Contact: Céline Payot Lehmann tel : +33 1 55 00 70 94

BORN FAMOUS (4 x 1 hour) Studio Ramsay for Channel 4, UK New from Studio Ramsay, this series sees the teenage offspring of Britain’s celebrities discover what life might have been without the luxury. GENERATION PORN (3 x 1 hour) Story Films for Channel 4, UK From award-winning producers Story Films, this landmark documentary series explores the influence of the modern porn ‘epidemic’ through the people who watch it, star in it and control it.

STARBUCKS UNFILTERED Directed by LUC HERMANN et GILLES BOVON (52’& 90’ – INVESTIGATION) Starbucks is now a part of our daily lives. Like McDonald’s, its 22.000 coffeehouses present in 67 countries have made it a recognizable symbol of globalization. This investigative report explores the brand’s appeal, what made its success and reveals the coffee giant’s dark underside.


Passion Distribution No 1. Smith Square 77-85 Fulham Palace Road London W6 8JA Tel: +44 (0)207 981 9801 StandP4.C18

Executives Attending: Emmanuelle Namiech, CEO Nick Tanner, Director of Sales & Co-productions Nikki Andrews, Senior Sales Manager Agnes Mbye, Senior Sales Manager, Formats Eliana Barbosa, Sales Manager

Machinery Of War (Documentary Series 6 x 60’) From the beginning of the twentieth century to today, war has radically transformed. Through mechanisation and industrialisation, the methods used to settle conflicts have made the art of war more hi-tech, more expensive, and more devastating than ever before. Violence, it seems, is the mother of invention. A Wild Bear production.

The Trouble With Women (Documentary 1 x 60) Anne Robinson meets women from across the country to find out, 100 years on from some women obtaining the vote in the UK, what is still preventing them from achieving equality and what women are doing to fight back. A Wild Pictures production for BBC One

Inside The Foreign Office (Documentary Series 3 x 60’) Insight into a crucial 12 months for the British Foreign Office as it responds to a fast changing, unpredictable world. A BBC Studios production for BBC Two.

Talpa Global Familie de Mollaan 1 1217 ZB HILVERSUM The Netherlands Phone: +31 35 5333 111 Website: Email: At Mipcom: C16.B

House of Talent The last stop before the top Reality show (Daily | 25’ net) House of Talent is a daily reality show that starts where other talent shows stop… because House of Talent is the launchpad of the professional careers of eight aspiring musical artists. Witness their struggles, challenges and daily lives from up close while they live together and work hard on their music careers as professionals. The artists have to build a large and engaged fanbase, perform throughout the country and release a new track every 6 weeks. During the live elimination show that will be broadcast exclusively online, one artist needs to leave the house and will be replaced by a new musician. Which artist’s popularity will soar sky-high? Who is able to make money with their talent? Who will make it to the top? The Voice Senior Never too old to shine Talent show (4 episodes | 70’ net) In this new spin-off of the worldwide successful talent show ‘The Voice of’, it is now the turn of the seniors! They will prove that you are never too old to shine. Four celebrity coaches will compete to pick their favorite seniors in the world-famous blind auditions. In the Knockouts, each coach will select their two best seniors to take to the finals. In the final episode, the winner will be crowned! Which senior turns out to have a voice of gold? Dance as One Be perfectly in sync Talent show (8 episodes | 70’ net) This show sets out to find the best dance group in one of the most challenging disciplines: synchronized dancing! Twenty dance crews from all genres within the dance scene compete against each other at the highest level. In 3 different rounds, the teams are challenged to dance as synchronized as possible, under any circumstance, even if it’s a dance routine against themselves! A super slow-motion camera will help the jury by mercilessly exposing every glitch in the dance routine. It’s all about perfect teamwork, perfect timing, perfect choreography and a lot of training. Which group is the ultimate in sync dance crew and can truly dance as one?

MIPCOM LISTINGS AVAILABLE Contact Carol Leighton 416.408.0863

Twofour Studios Estover, Plymouth, PL6 7RG W: MIPCOM 2018 Stand Number: ITV Studios House E:

The Twofour Group is a family of award-winning companies producing world-class international TV spanning factual, features and entertainment programming. Twofour Rights is the in-house rights arm of Twofour, representing the group’s extensive catalogue of global programming. Home of the fastest selling format of the year, This Time Next Year, and hit entertainment format, What Would Your Kid Do?, plus all new action hero physical challenge format Take the Tower, hosted by Hollywood star Dolph Lundgren. The Group’s shows air in over 100 countries around the world.

Take The Tower Genre: Entertainment Format Episodes / Length: 6x60 mins HD Inspired by the action movies that stand the test of time. Take the Tower is where movies and entertainment meet. Combining real, passionate people with all the adrenalin of classic Hollywood action films. The host Dolph Lundgren challenges members of the public to a combination of challenges and quiz questions. Contestants who manage to make their way to the top of the ‘tower’ will whisk their mates off on holiday. Two: Sink Holes Genre: Factual Episodes / Length: Series 2: 12 x 60’ In this returning season, there are reports from across the globe of the areas plagued by sinkholes, caused by natural occurrence or as a result of modern-day industry methods. Each episode seeks to uncover the origins of the ground movement which has left often life-changing devastation in its wake. With more incredible accounts of survival plus the heroic tales from the rescue services, and the life-shattering reflections of those whose lives were torn apart. Extreme Cake Makers Genre: Factual Entertainment Episodes / Length: Series 3: 30 x 30 mins HD No challenge is too great for our magnificent line up of cake making extraordinaires in this new bumper volume season. Our charismatic group of new and familiar faces go to great lengths to make the perfect celebratory pieces, with some whacky experiments combined with scientific precision. We land in the heart of the whirlwind that is extreme cake making, as we watch this elite group of crafts men and women making edible dreams come true.

VIACOM INTERNATIONAL STUDIOS 17-29 Hawley Crescent London NW1 8TT United Kingdom T: +44 203 580 2504 MIPCOM Booth: R7.N7

ALBERT: THE POWER BEHIND VICTORIA Factual/Documentary | 1 X 90’ Drawing on private letters, memoirs, historical written accounts and expert insight from historians, this scripted documentary tells the untold story of the ‘Pauper Prince’ who rose from obscurity in Germany to become one of the most powerful men in the world. Having been the driving force behind the industrial revolution and fighter of the welfare of the working classes, the documentary reveals how Albert became the power behind the throne. Produced by Elephant House Studios in association with Channel 5. ROLLS ROYCE: DREAM MACHINES Factual/Documentary | 1 X 60’ Lifting the lid off of the world’s finest engineering company, Rolls Royce: Dream Machines tells the story of Cambridge educated aristocrat Charles Rolls and self-taught engineer Henry Royce. Together, they created the by-word for luxury, helped Britain win two World Wars, and conquered the skies with their aero engine division that went on to become the predominant jet manufacturer in the world. Today, BMW makes Rolls Royces from their futuristic factory in Goodwood. Produced by Elephant House Studios in association with Channel 5. SECRETS OF MCDONALD’S: 50 YEARS OF THE BIG MAC Factual/Documentary | 1 X 60’ This highly entertaining documentary reveals how Ray Kroc, a middle aged milkshake machine salesman transformed the burger restaurant into what was to become the world’s most successful fast food chain. An impressive line-up of contributors tells the full dramatic story from 1948 to present day. The documentary also analyzes the backlash it experienced in the 90s as it was besieged by a string of controversies, from the fat content in its food, to the welfare of its animals, to the targeted advertising that enticed children to eat its products. Produced by Elephant House Studios in association with Channel 5.

Brisbane, Australia | November 27–30, 2018 THE PLACE TO BE FOR NON-FICTION MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WORKING ON ALL PLATFORMS • Network with the world’s leading science, history and natural history content creators and distributors • Discover new trends and technology at inspiring sessions and panels • Connect with executives from Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PBS, ABC, ARTE, BBC, NHK and more!



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Spanning the globe Unscripted television can transport viewers to far-flung locales, often via adventure competition or travel series. But taking audiences to remote corners of the planet unearths a host of challenges. B Y D A N I E L E A L C I N I I


hen seeking a new home for purchase or an investment property, one thing is certain: location is everything. And much like the rule in real estate, the same golden tenet applies when searching out the backdrop for big scale competition series and travel shows. “Location is vital as it’s the visual precinct within which our stories play out,” says Tim Whitwell, creative director at Shine TV. The Endemol Shine prodco is no stranger to undertaking major scouting assignments for big scale factual dramas such as The Island with Bear Grylls, which tests the survival skills of participants, left completely alone with only their clothes. Location scouts on the series — which returns to Channel 4 for a sixth season next spring — were tasked with finding an uninhabited, but hospitable, island in the Pacific that

could support life for at least four weeks. It’s an assignment that took the scouting team approximately one year to find the right archipelago of islands to film in. “We filmed in Panama, which is not a remote location on the face of it,” Whitwell tells realscreen, “but the archipelago we filmed in was not that easy to access or escape from if you were living on the island itself. There are still places that feel remote and cut off from the modern world.” In general, scouts will begin their search from the comforts of their homes or production studios by scouring the Internet’s travel blogs and location databases. Depending on the production schedule, they may have months or mere days to explore before setting foot on site. For Jesse Jensen, a co-executive producer on CBS’s long-running reality competition format Survivor, it’s more about actually visiting the

country and meeting with the various players on the ground to get a feel for how well the location will work with a specific production. Filming permits are “usually the easiest things to obtain,” says Jensen. Difficulties arise, however, when attempting to navigate various government departments — immigration, customs, civil aviation, internal revenue services and environment, among others — in the time constraints the television industry tends to operate under. Each territory is obviously dissimilar from its neighboring state, and that brings about its own challenges when attempting to manage government relationships and filming permits. As such, asking an overabundance of questions is key to understanding what you’re up against. Having a good government contact that can act as a “one-stop shop” or liaison is also crucial

A gorgeous location from Survivor’s 10th season in Palau.



“If you lose the camera in the ocean — which you do — you just have to figure it out.”


September / October ‘18

Expedition with Steve Backshall for BBC2 and UKTV’s Dave heads for hidden locales around the world.

to negotiating the permissions and approvals phase, as different types of land zonings in each area dictate what you can actually do and who you need to seek permissions from. “In countries where there is no such thing as a film commission, I’ve turned to the government’s department of tourism, as they will often step up to act as the liaison between the production and the other government entities,” he adds. Logistics are, as one can imagine, always difficult when working in such remote, and often developing, nations. Sourcing the required equipment and supplies needed locally takes meticulous planning and places heavy emphasis on organization. To film Nomad Entertainment’s reality competition Castaways, American commercial broadcaster ABC sent crews out to Raja Ampat, Indonesia, an archipelago comprised of 1,500-plus small islands. In order to get gear to the site — 2,682 km (1,667 miles) from the capital of Jakarta — the production team was required to fill out

a container and ship it to the Raja Ampat camp one month in advance; if a camera went missing, it took more than a week for its replacement to arrive. “If you lose the camera in the ocean — which you do — you just have to figure it out,” explains Grant Kahler, executive producer and showrunner of Castaways, which debuted to summer highs for the American network in the 10 p.m. Tuesday timeslot in total viewers with 3.1 million and among adults 18-49 (0.7/3). “You also hire people on the shows that are incredibly technically savvy, so that if a transmitter drops in the water they can use their soldering iron on the boat and a bowl of rice to dry it out to fix it. “We were so remote [on Castaways] that we had supply runs for gas for our boats and food for the crew, every day,” Kahler continues. “Those supply runs took three hours each way just to the nearest village. Logistically, it was by far the most difficult [series] that I’ve tried to figure out.”

Security and safety also play a crucial part in determining the viability of a remote overseas filming location, with well thought out evacuation procedures and protocols needed prior to getting cameras rolling. While risk assessment protocols are critical to any production, the threats are typically greater for remote shoots. The reason, says Survivor’s Jensen, is that there is often a distinct lack of local support and infrastructure available in the area of operation. “Our team draws up different procedures and protocols for each location we visit to suit the environment in which we are working, and it covers a variety of different scenarios including smaller medical evacuations to mass crew evacuations due to, say, a natural disaster,” he explains. “Having these plans and procedures in place are paramount to reducing panic and indecision if a situation ever arises.” Ensuring safety procedures is especially important when conducting world-firsts in inhospitable, far-away locations. Such was the case for Fremantle’s forthcoming adventure-travel series Expedition with Steve Backshall for BBC2 and UKTV’s Dave, in which the television presenter ventures out on a global journey to the dark and forgotten corners of Earth to explore its hidden secrets. “We’re always looking [at] how to put risk assessment in place, [and] how to mitigate the risks on location to reduce the chance of any injury,” says Expedition producer Alex Ranken. “We work very closely with specialists in expedition evac and health and safety in remote locations. “The challenges the teams are facing on this particular production and the tasks are, by their very nature, extremely risky pursuits… without having that paperwork and that evac procedure in place before you walk out the door would be stupid.” “It’s [about] having an exceptionally

The 36th season of Survivor captured the beauty of Fiji.

“Anywhere that’s beautiful and worth visiting has a hotel on it. It’s shocking that these places exist that don’t have a Four Seasons on them.”

experienced team for when something does happen that wasn’t the plan; you all solve it together and then you come out the other side stronger,” adds Expedition series producer Susanna Handslip. Similar efforts in safety were implemented in ABC’s production of Castaways, which mimics a shipwreck scenario by dropping 12 people throughout an expanse of islands in the South Pacific and challenges them to survive among washed-up luggage and scattered resources. To leave the remote islands, contestants must persevere long enough to be rescued or quit. As a result, the production hired former members of the Navy SEALs and A-team Delta Force Army Rangers — all of whom were accustomed to combat medicine and jungle warfare situations — to ensure proper evacuation procedures, should the need arise, would be followed in a methodical and stress-free fashion. “You need a way — night or day, rain or shine — to get people in and out,” Kahler explains. “We had pretty much three layers

of redundancy as far as how we would accomplish that, whether it was a simple infection, or the next level would be a broken bone or a head or neck injury. “Worst-case scenario, if we had a serious injury we had plans in place and helicopters on call that would get us to an airport, which in turn would get us to Jakarta or Singapore where the more serious things would be dealt with,” he adds. “Luckily we never had to do that, but of course you have to have all of that in place because these shows are very, very intense.” But with competition series and travel shows providing viewers a window to practically every corner of the world, what do the words ‘remote’ or ‘exotic’ mean anymore? With a human footprint gracing nearly every inch of the globe, discovering these far-flung, previously untouched utopias is becoming a much bigger ask for location scouts. “Anywhere that’s beautiful and worth visiting has a hotel on it. It’s almost shocking that these places exist that don’t have a Four Seasons on them,” Kahler concludes. “Wilderness is disappearing fast. It is a lot harder today than it was 10 years ago and I’m sure it’ll be even harder in 10 more years.”


International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam November 14-25, 2018 As the world’s leading documentary festival, IDFA brings together film professionals from all over the globe. Find out what’s happening in the documentary market, present your film to documentary lovers in sold out cinemas, and experience the latest developments in non-fiction storytelling, new media, and art. Get inspired. Discover new talents, new projects, and new insights. Have a little fun, and enjoy the beauty of the city. We look forward to welcoming you in Amsterdam! IDFA Industry & press @IDFA industry



Sound of success

the summer of 2008, in the early days of the unscripted television boom, two young men saw an opportunity to provide music for projects with increasingly high production value and low budgets. Introduced by their then-girlfriends, now wives, Jared Gustadt and Dan Demole figured there had to be a good way to manage rights and provide top-quality music, primarily for reality series. A few impromptu discussions, some scrawling on the back of a cocktail napkin and several margaritas later, Jingle Punks was born. The duo built the company up from scratch, initially operating out of Gustadt’s apartment in New York’s Lower East Side, with his mom serving as chauffeur to early business meetings. Today, the team takes pride in being early out of the gate in offering a cloudbased library with a simple interface and straightforward music licensing

BY FREDERICK BLICHERT agreements. In the decade since Gustadt and Demole teamed up, they’ve been providing music to such high-profile titles as The Voice, Pawn Stars, Chopped and Good Morning America, and they’ve expanded to offices in New York, LA and Toronto. In 2015, they sold Jingle Punks to Torontobased rights management company Ole, marking a sizable expansion into international markets. Realscreen caught up with the two founders to get insight into their first 10 years in business. The following Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Jingle Punks founders Jared Gustadt and Dan Demole reflect on 10 years of producing and licensing music for unscripted television.

How did Jingle Punks come into being? Jared Gustadt: I am very lucky. Most people start businesses based on a business model. I was an end-user first. I was one of the top TV editors in New York City. I realized that music was a big weapon of choice to punch up unscripted TV, and there really were no music libraries that existed that were, in my opinion, popular music, or had real trendy music within them. I thought if someone brought a bit of pop culture savvy and marketing to the world of production music, it



“Sometimes when I watch a show back, I’ll go, ‘Who made that piece of music?” And then I’ll look at the credits and say, ‘Oh yeah, we did that.’”

could be transformative. And that’s what we set out to do. Dan Demole: I had just come to New York. I was PAing at the time. [Jared] and I connected and had discussed this idea that he had, and I had told him about my background in technology and my previous work at Electronic Arts and working on simulation software. I told him that his idea was great, and that I could potentially help him build a portal to aggregate all of this independent music and artists. We started Jingle Punks right there in late September of 2008.

What led you to sell to Ole? DD: A lot of our content was now going internationally. One of the big properties that we landed along the way was The Voice. Because that show travelled internationally so well, we had to learn how to collect and monetize our assets internationally. And I think that’s what Ole helped provide. In 2015 we sold the entire business to them. It became a nice partnership, where they let us run free on the creative and said, “Don’t worry about the financing and the administration of these assets. We’ll take care of that for you.”

Was there an idea at that point of creating original music in-house? DD: No, there wasn’t. The original idea was strictly going out and aggregating independent, relevant artists and bands. JG: I remember coming home from my day job and getting the call to do the theme for a show about these people that work in a pawn shop. That show ended up being Pawn Stars. That song set a lot of things in motion for us. A lot of people who saw that show ended up hiring us for shows like American Pickers, Real Housewives and The Voice.

What are some of the challenges that you’ve come up against through the years? JG: You’re expected to anticipate every type of mood that’s going to happen in a TV show. Sometimes when I watch a show back, I’ll go, “Who made that piece of music?” And then I’ll look at the credits and say, “Oh yeah, we did that.” The challenge is trying to guess how someone’s going to use it. When a good editor uses it, it almost looks like we were going to picture, even though we were creating a piece of music for a piece of content that didn’t exist yet.

Can you walk me through the growth of the company? DD: We started landing a couple of these bigger shows. We got connected with some people who believed in what we were doing, and funded us with about $1 million of seed investment in the fall of 2010. And then we were able to really mature and become a “company” — get an office space, formalize everything with legal documents. Everything had been a lot of handshakes and tape and glue at that point. Then a couple of years later, we had a relationship with Amos Newman, who is a big composing agent. And Amos said, “You should maybe talk to the business guys at WME.” They took a large investment in our business. It just transformed our business relationships, and the doors that that opened were really impressive.


September / October ‘18

How would you say that the industry has changed in the time that you’ve been doing this? DD: We were the first to market with a cloud-based solution. In 2008, no one was doing that, so there was a long period, probably the first year and a half, where we had to convince people that no, you didn’t want hard drives or CDs delivered to your edit bay. You could just log in and download the music from the web. I think the industry’s caught up. Everyone’s producing content, so the workflows now have just sped up so quickly. I think one of the advantages we have over competitors is that because we’ve been here for 10 years, we’re now [seen as] one of the old hats at this. Any major lessons you’ve learned? JG: The big lesson for me: never stop moving.

Angel Manuel Soto’s VR short Dinner Party premiered at Tribeca.

Stash Slionski (center, with hat) helped build Ryot’s VR department.

A different lens While it has yet to reach the lofty heights (and significant levels of adoption) predicted for it a few years back, VR remains an enticing medium for non-fiction storytellers. Here, two cinematographers working extensively in VR discuss what they had to learn — and unlearn — BY BARRY WALSH to create innovative, immersive content.


hile director and DP Stash Slionski is currently active in shooting and helming virtual reality projects for a variety of clients, he admits to a bit of trepidation about entering the medium. Working with the socially conscious, “next generation motion picture studio” Ryot at the time, he was there when the Los Angeles-based company made a major leap into VR content. And he wasn’t thrilled about the move. “One day we were out there in California, and Bryn [Mooser, company co-founder] said he’d watched some 360 VR and that this was what we were going to do going forward. And being a traditional cinematographer, I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ But he was convinced — no more linear content, only VR. “And I was heartbroken,” he says. “But that was the directive from the boss.” Meanwhile, director/cinematographer Angel Manuel Soto first encountered VR via Sundance’s New Frontiers program. Working as a “traditional” filmmaker in different areas ranging from TV to features, and commercials to music videos, he was more excited about the transition, and after that introduction to VR at Sundance, “I’ve been developing content in the medium ever since.” It’s true that VR didn’t explode out of the gate as a mass-adoption content model, and while innovative work is being done around the world, and a variety of networks and production companies have made investments in VR content and departments, it remains a curiosity for many content-makers and viewers alike.

But if content creators are intimidated by the challenge of learning a new visual language, both Slionski and Soto say the secret to diving into the deep end with VR is to think that you’re now swimming in the ocean, not a lake. While you’re still working with water (or in this case, the moving image), that’s where the similarities end. “The thing about VR and 360 is that it’s not an extension of cinematography or photography — it’s a medium of its own,” says Slionski. “Once you can separate it in your brain and embrace it as its own entity, the learning curve lessens, without resistance. There are different rules to the medium, but the beautiful part about it is that it’s so new and so unorthodox, that you can create your own way of doing it.” “I feel that narrative, live action VR takes more from theater than it does from film,” offers Soto. “The blocking, the staging, the choreography and spatial awareness, the sense of presence that the actor needs to always stay on character, all allude more to theater than film. Yes, there is a camera involved, but even the cinematography needs to keep in consideration more than just your frame of attention.” Slionski cites a VR shoot for the UN, The Ganges River Project, as his most challenging shoot to date. “Blood, sweat and tears everywhere, 107 degrees, humid, with funeral pyres burning all around you,” he recalls. “That’s the most intense shoot I’ve ever had.” Soto, meanwhile, counts his VR short Dinner Party, which used actors and archive audio to recount the true story of the interracial couple

that made the first report of a UFO abduction in the U.S. in 1961, as his biggest hurdle thus far. “The main challenge was to communicate an idea that has never been done before in VR in a medium that is still yet to find a vocabulary of its own,” he says of the doc-narrative hybrid. “Cinematography and acting for VR is not a common thing and being able to get everyone on the same page could be a little bit hard.” But while the medium may not be completely ubiquitous at present, shooters and content creators can take solace in the fact that more and more gear is available for those taking the plunge, and at increasingly attractive price points. Both Slionski and Soto point to Samsung and GoPro prosumer camera models as preferred pieces of kit for ease of use, while Slionski makes special mention of Kandao cameras such as the Obsidian which are “all the rage,” and Soto gives a shout out to the V1 Pro from ZCam, the unit he turned to for Dinner Party. “[It was] a compact camera that shot stereo, was good in low light and provided enough parallax for stitching.” As for when, or if, VR will become the visual revolution it was initially touted as, or if the early adopters have already moved on to augmented reality or mixed reality, both Soto and Slionski are relatively sanguine about its prospects. But its growth depends on the continuous flow of new content, new approaches and yes, new talent entering the field. “Watch lots of projects, so that you can understand it,” advises Slionski, adding, “You have to master your tools, put them to use by testing, and then go out and build something.”•




Ringing in its first decade in 2018, and with some of the biggest unscripted production companies from around the world in its roster, Parisheadquartered Banijay Group marries global ambition with local market savvy.


2008, Stéphane Courbit founded a company rooted in autonomy that 10 years later has grown across 16 operating territories with a roster of 61 prodcos. At the end of 2007, Courbit left his role as president of Endemol France to capitalize on the growth of the international content market by launching what was then called Banijay Entertainment. In January of the following year, starting with the French market, Courbit as Banijay chairman began his M&A strategy, acquiring companies such as Air Productions and then expanding into Spain, Germany and the Nordics, with Nordisk Film TV Denmark, Brainpool and Cuarzo Producciones added to the roster. Courbit saw an opportunity in the market to grow a global network of creatives — strong local producers who could create and share IP — and as a producer himself with stints at Coyote and Case Productions, Courbit sought to give the group’s companies full independence and creative control. It’s a formula that has attracted companies to the Banijay fold such as Germany’s Brainpool, American unscripted powerhouse Bunim/ Murray, H20 Productions and more.

Banijay’s RDF Television brought The Crystal Maze back to UK television after 21 years.

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES Banijay Group’s CEO Marco Bassetti came to the company in 2013 after many years as a producer, founding his own production companies La Italiana Produzioni and Aran, and later heading Endemol Italy. Bassetti believes that the company’s strategy is basically the same now as it was when he signed on. “I believe that [Courbit] understands the good and the bad of the industry and decided to not move very aggressively, take his time and make the right choices and directions,” he tells realscreen. One of those successful moves was Banijay’s merger with Zodiak Media in 2016, which made what is now known as the Banijay Group one of the largest independent content producers and distributors in the world. “We looked at many opportunities and in the end we chose this one,” recalls Bassetti. “I believe after two years we can say it was a successful merger and a good choice.” In the deal, Zodiak Rights — the distribution arm of Zodiak Media — brought over its catalog of 20,000 hours of content. The rebranded distribution arm, Banijay Rights, is headed up by Tim Mutimer, with its primary headquarters in London, and offices in Paris and Denmark. Banijay “still feels like a challenger company,” says Mutimer. “I think the great instincts make us fight hard for everything.” He recalls a time before the merger when long-running shows in Zodiak Rights’ catalog were ending. Bringing the two companies together provided the perfect chance to refresh the offerings. “We were then getting content from Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. — major English-language territories,” he says. “[Banijay



Bassetti Mutimer

was] really supportive in terms of investing, so we could get content, and they made sure that all the companies within the group knew who we were and were keen to work with us as well. “It was well-timed and it’s been good for us as a distribution arm,” he adds. Shows in the Banijay Rights stable include such hits as The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds, Eat Well for Less, and The Crystal Maze, and from third parties, The Supervet, SAS: Who Dares Win, and more. And then there’s another format that has done fairly well for itself which is now under the Banijay Rights umbrella. Mutimer credits the group’s 2017 acquisition of Castaway Productions, the company that owns the iconic Survivor, as a huge achievement. “It’s probably the biggest known adventure reality format — there’s 17 productions underway at the moment. To have that in our portfolio, to do deals with it, it’s incredible.”

COMING TO AMERICA In 2010, Banijay Group expanded its global footprint via its first acquisition of a North American production company. In keeping with other big deals orchestrated by the superindie, this one was also formidable — the acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, of the company that effectively kickstarted the reality revolution in the U.S., Bunim/ Murray Productions. Gil Goldschein, chairman and CEO at the Real World and Keeping Up with the Kardashians prodco, says that over his early years at BMP, there were some overtures from various parties interested in acquiring the company, but, “I felt as though, in those instances, we were being reactive.” “Once Jon [Murray, the company’s founder] had shared with me his long-term goals and vision, I wanted to be proactive about the process and control it. At some point in time, in 2007, I found a


September / October ‘18

CFO that’d had a lot of transactional experience, and really started setting up the company to proactively look for a sale, and try to find the right partner in that M&A process,” says Goldschein. He noticed at various MIPCOMs that Banijay was a fairly new group looking to grow, and he made sure it was on the list of companies to speak with. After numerous trips to Paris, they closed the deal. “From the first time that we met Stéphane, what we really appreciated was the fact that he was a producer himself, he understood the marketplace, and understood the importance of knowing the local market and recognizing that local producers and local companies are the experts in their marketplace,” says Goldschein. “At no point would they be dictating to their companies how to run their businesses or the type of shows they should be pitching.” “They now have a head of digital and head of music as they’ve expanded. That’s enabled us, because we’ve always had a strong and robust music department and have been in the digital space for 12 years at this point, so there are more touchpoints that we have today than we did in the beginning,” he says. Bassetti says another important move was the creation of Banijay Studios North America in 2014. “Even though it’s a big market, there is space for everybody,” he says. “David [Goldberg] is and was very successful in the format business, especially with the big networks.”

Goldberg, previously the chairman and CEO of Endemol North America, has guided the Los Angeles-based production company to network success with the ABC studio show Child Support, and with plans afoot to reboot Temptation Island for the U.S. and Wife Swap for CMT. Goldberg says that despite the company’s name being attached to a super-indie, four years ago, the North American studio was still a “pure start-up.” “All of a sudden, you’re in much smaller offices, you’ve got to set up phones, bank accounts, and convince people to work for you at the same time that you’re developing content and going into the community and introducing yourself, not as a new person, but as a new company and brand.” Goldberg had the unique distinction of working with both Courbit and Bassetti at Endemol, where they each headed up local companies within the U.S., France and Italy, respectively. “They have an intimate knowledge of what it’s like to run a local production company, which really is what Banijay is made up of. [When] I worked alongside them at Endemol, they were among the very best in the group at running their local companies,” says Goldberg. “At the same time, you’re not going to get anything by them because they know exactly what you’re doing. They’ve had that experience and they’ve done it all and they’ve seen it all. “

“They’re letting you try to achieve your vision... That’s why they’ve been able to attract and keep this talent from around the world.”

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


Pascal Breton Founder & CEO Federation Entertainment

Nne Ebong

Oliver Goldstick

Camila Jimenez Villa

Executive Producer, Writer

CEO FMG Studios

Christine Lubrano

Clelia Mountford

Jenna Santoianni

SVP, Original Programming IFC

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e n i h S



IN THE WOR L D The BANFF Rockie Awards is one of the largest program competitions of its kind with participation from more than 40 countries annually, and an international jury of over 100 senior entertainment and media professionals.

CALL FOR ENTRY Early Bird Deadline Fri November 30th 2018




Storyville – Silk Road: Drugs, Death and the Dark Web Crime & Investigative Program Raw TV / Vice / A&E / BBC Four


The Drug Trial: Emergency at the Hospital

Environmental & Wildlife Program Discovery Channel / Yap Films

Science & Technology Program BBC Two / Raw TV

Rodin: divino # inferno

Employable Me

Music, Performance, Arts & Lifestyle Program Variety Program Employable Me Productions Inc / ARTE France / Les Bons Clients / Accessible Media Inc ARTE and RMN – Grand Palais

Undercover High

Reality Program A&E / Lucky 8 TV / Learning Tree Productions





Banijay Group created by Stéphane Courbit; acquires Air Productions (Nagui’s production company)

Merger with Zodiak Media is completed, making Banijay one of the largest independent content producers and distributors in the world; invests minority stake in DRYMEDIA

2009 Acquires majority stake in Cuarzo Producciones; takes 50% stake in Brainpool TV; buys Nordisk Film TV Denmark

Child Support from Banijay Studios North America features Ricky Gervais and airs on ABC.

Also in 2014, Banijay Group bought a majority share in Stephen David Entertainment. The New York City-based prodco specializes in docudrama, documentary and non-fiction, which Bassetti says made it an attractive company to acquire, as it’s not in competition with their other U.S. prodcos. “We each do something unique within the U.S.,” says company CEO Stephen David. “I talk to [BMP and Banijay Studios North America] quite a bit, so we don’t have to be competitive, we can be complementary. That’s helpful as a company, to have someone else to talk to in your same market. “The beauty of this relationship is they’re letting you try to achieve your vision or your dream. I think that’s why they’ve been able to attract and keep this talent around the world,” adds David. “The benefits — for me, creatively — are that they are there with all these other companies [within the group] who have all this IP as well, [so] that I can see a really cool show, sell that and make that here.”

THE FUTURE Bassetti says he sees growth opportunities in the UK, where the group recently launched Little Wonder, an unscripted house headed up by ex-Potato head of development Claire Morrison. Other Banijay Group-owned prodcos in the territory include 7 Wonder, acquired in February of this year, and two rather sizable shops acquired from the Zodiak merger — IWC Media and RDF Television. Banijay has also entered into an agreement with Twitter to monetize Banijay Group content and drive brand engagement efforts through the platform. Announced at Realscreen West, Bassetti says the initiative begins at the beginning of autumn and is a “good step forward.” Despite being a company that is intent on growing its global footprint, Bassetti says he doesn’t seem concerned that much will change. “It’s still the more intimate company in terms of services to the group, because our key message to our people is that they are independent. It’s not a bureaucratic entity.” In addition, the screen content industry’s latest dalliances in digital and deep investment in scripted don’t ruffle him. “Now the big trend [for other companies] is to move as much as they can into the scripted business,” he says. “We want to continue to grow but we don’t want to divert the focus of the company from what we are. We are an unscripted company, so we try to attract on the scripted side, but want to keep our focus as an unscripted company.”

2010 Acquires Bunim/Murray

2012 Acquires majority stake in Australian prodco Screentime; acquires celebrity news channel Non Stop People; acquires H2O Productions, headed by popular French TV host, Cyril Hanouna

2013 Acquires Ambra Multimedia and Aurora TV formed in partnership; acquires DLO Producciones

2014 Launches Banijay Studios North America; buys majority share in Stephen David Entertainment; launches Non Stop People in Spain

2017 Zodiak Rights is renamed Banijay Rights; acquires Castaway Television Productions (Survivor); DLO merges with Magnolia; BlackLight, Fearless Minds and Yellow Bird UK are launched

2018 Acquires 7 Wonder; Neon Ink is launched; Banijay Studios Italy, Banijay Asia and Banijay Productions Germany are launched; Little Wonder is launched within 7 Wonder; Banijay Group Germany is launched. •


THINK ABOUT IT This 360-degree approach transforms a show into a 24/7 experience, which in turn helps create those big, live watercooler moments such as the finales of Operación Triunfo or Love Island in the UK, made by ITV Studios for ITV2, which put social media at the core of its stunning reinvention. It’s exciting, creative, and often challenging. But there’s nothing like feeling uncomfortable to do your best work, and if there’s one place TV can’t afford to be right now, it’s the comfort zone. At Endemol Shine we want to take a similar all-embracing approach to factual entertainment shows such as The Island, Hunted, El Puente (The Bridge) in Spain and our new, high-stakes series Heist, for which we also have global ambitions. Of course, making non-scripted content more immersive for a younger generation isn’t the only challenge we’re facing as producers working in this genre. Writing this, I was reminded of a conversation I had recently with a leading European program controller. When I asked what he was particularly looking forward to in the new schedule, he reeled off about 12 scripted pieces. Now, I know we live in the “golden age of scripted” and we are hugely proud to produce such shows as Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror, Bron and Dark, but it was interesting that this controller didn’t mention a single non-scripted title. When people talk about current TV, there is a danger that the non-scripted arena can be totally overshadowed by drama, and that’s unfair. Non-scripted does a great job across the schedule every night, and it’s a tool that can be engineered, sculpted and aimed at particular demographics in a way that is not so easily true of most drama. Moreover, the success of Queer Eye on Netflix has not only shown us that classic formats with cultural resonance are able to cut through in a crowded market, but also, they can be binge -watched by viewers, echoing drama’s ‘box set’ appeal. Non-scripted shows — and their producers — can be at the frontier of the new TV landscape, by debunking the notion that linear broadcasting is in terminal decline among younger viewers, and by embracing fresh, new ways of reaching the audience. Unscripted formats work remarkably well in this tough environment by remaining nimble and flexible, and innovating with big ideas. We have to be prepared to kick out against the old ways and disrupt the preconceived norms that have governed our industry for decades. I’m aware this might not be the most Generation Z terminology, but you have to be a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Edgy, occasionally rebellious, not afraid to get things wrong. Exciting, of the moment, ever-changing. And living in the now. •

OUTSIDE THE COMFORT ZONE Whether it’s trying to appeal to the seemingly elusive Gen Z audience or battling scripted hits for eyeballs, it’s vital for unscripted producers and their network partners to opt for creativity instead of comfort, says Endemol Shine Group chief creative officer Peter Salmon.


September / October ‘18


very day it seems there is another headline about how younger audiences just don’t watch TV any more. All around the world, broadcasters are focusing on that all-important Generation Z audience, eager to create brand loyalty at an early stage of life. But in the battle for younger viewers it’s important to remember that their affection for the small screen hasn’t gone away — it’s just not always the one in the corner of the living room. They are still watching television, but consuming it on different devices, and with 5G on the horizon it’s never been easier to watch what you want, when you want. Non-scripted formats have a vital role to play in winning over this new audience. But they will only succeed if they adopt a truly multi-platform approach, reaching out to the digital playgrounds in which younger viewers spend their spare time. Producers and commissioners have to think from the beginning about how a new show will work on the likes of YouTube and Facebook. If younger viewers catch a show on one platform and they like it, there’s hard evidence they will seek it out wherever it is on — and that includes linear. It is not a zero sum game. For example, in Spain, we relaunched Operación Triunfo (Star Academy) on the main public broadcaster channel, RTVE, after several years off air. It was a big hit. Our producers complimented the linear experience with YouTube highlights and 14 hours of livestreaming online, creating huge amounts of social engagement. The livestream hashtag trended from day one and the YouTube channel averaged more than 150 million views a month, helping to deliver a tripling of the number of adults aged 13 to 24 — up 328% — watching the show on RTVE in primetime.




ough topics find themselves once again in the sights of director Joe Berlinger’s camera in Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers for NBC Universal-owned, crime-focused network Oxygen. Chambers was burned to death in 2014, and Quinton Tellis was charged with the crime. The jury in the 2017 trial was unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared, with a new trial for Tellis, who maintains his innocence, having begun in late September. Berlinger, as seen via his feature docs such as Paradise Lost and 2009’s Crude, doesn’t shy away from tackling the hard stuff, and here, he tells realscreen why. Why were you interested in this case, and why was it right for a TV series? I was initially drawn to the case because of how divisive it was within the small community of Courtland, Mississippi. Nothing quite moves a town like the death of one of its youngest citizens, especially one as violent as the murder of Jessica Chambers. I saw how it ignited a fierce dialog among the citizens of Courtland and around the U.S., with ‘armchair detectives’ constantly making unsubstantiated claims about who was to blame for the crime. What were the challenges in making Unspeakable Crime? Racial tensions were very high when we first arrived, making it a challenge to get locals to talk. Some people were afraid for their lives so we needed to earn their trust. The case has become a highly charged racial issue not just in the small town of Courtland, Mississippi, but nationwide. People online made all kinds of accusations about who could have committed this crime, so when a young black man was arrested for the murder of a white cheerleader it only made tensions higher. This was also a particularly difficult shoot for our entire team because there was so much heartache on both sides. For the family of Jessica Chambers, nothing is more devastating than the murder of a loved one — and in this case, she died such a senseless and horrific death. And for the family of Quinton Tellis, the pain also runs deep because they believe in his innocence.

Seasoned filmmaker Joe Berlinger has been wrestling with issues of racial tension, murder and the justice system throughout his decades-long career. BY SELINA CHIGNALL What do you think about the explosion of true crime content on TV? Arguably, beginning with Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line and my own Brother’s Keeper and Paradise Lost, there has been a steady growth in viewer fascination with true crime storytelling in the doc form. I think this explosion is due in part to the aesthetics of true crime storytelling: crime stories, especially ones that involve a trial such as Unspeakable Crime, have perfect dramatic structure — there is a clear beginning, middle and end to the story. But more importantly, many true crime programs that have been embraced by viewers have a social justice component to them — documentary films have gotten the wrongfully convicted out of prison, advocated for victims’ rights, and have shone a light on problems within the criminal justice system. I think viewers find that aspect to true crime to be very satisfying.

Given your work in feature docs, and doing a fair amount of TV, how do you navigate that split? All non-fiction filmmaking, whether it’s a TV series or a feature documentary, is a process of discovery and the search for the truth, so from a research and aesthetic standpoint, my process is really the same. Admittedly, an unscripted series needs to conform to a television production schedule, whereas a feature doc generally has a more open-ended delivery schedule. So, when working in television, I try to be vigilant about making sure the journalism is never compromised by the need to deliver a series by a pre-determined deadline. •


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12/09/2018 12:57