Realscreen - Mar/Apr 2020

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MAR/APR 2020




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T urning alarm bells into wedding bells...


non-scripted content that captivates A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY





04/03/2020 16:58



How the UK production industry is gearing up for post-Brexit business


FORMAT FOCUS Building a hit format with Lego Masters







Our picks of the non-fiction projects being shopped internationally this spring

The top production companies working in non-fiction today, chosen with your input

XTR’s Justin Lacob on the dawn of the ‘Docbuster’

MAR/APR 2020




COVER ILLUSTRATION Our Global 100 mascot, Globie, is once again lovingly rendered by Matthew Daley for Shiny Pliers

If you build it they will come, as seen in the success of Lego Masters, hosted in the U.S. by Will Arnett.


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2020 HIGHLIGHTS T h e U l t i m a t e R e fe r e n c e i n Fa c t u a l D o c u m e n t a r y HISTORY
















Screen our programs on


ometimes, the world can look very different over the span of just a few days. As our press dates for this issue were approaching, I was thinking that my commentary in this space would be devoted to what was a relatively big story for our business — the effective dismantling of Canadian superindie Kew Media Group, and the lessons potentially contained within that series of events. A cautionary tale about the race for scale… et cetera. But all of that faded into the rear view as the coronavirus outbreak continued to impact populations, and naturally, businesses globally. And with COVID19’s current status, as I write this, as a global pandemic, and industry tentpole events such as MIPTV, South by Southwest, NAB Show, LA Screenings and the Tribeca Film Festival canceling or postponing their 2020 editions, it’s apparent that there will be much more for us to contend with, both on professional and personal levels, as we navigate through uncertain territory. While I toyed with the idea of attempting to squeeze in a report on how the virus has impacted the industry thus far, given the fast-moving nature of events, any current news or even forward-looking analysis risks being terribly out of date by the time this issue gets to you. We know the basics: global film and television studios and distributors are diligently trying to find ways to do business amid travel bans and canceled gatherings. Small companies who have shelled out sizable funds for event registrations, or raced to finish projects in time for festival screenings, are scrambling to recover costs. Multiple network groups have shelved their live upfronts, with many opting for virtual presentations. Unscripted projects dependant on international travel — including globetrotting competition series such as The Amazing Race and Survivor — have halted production, as have myriad scripted projects. “Abundance of caution” is the catch phrase for the current climate. Sure, there have been industry analysts who have put forward scenarios that could be seen by some as “silver linings” — a surge in content consumption by the temporarily quarantined, or a spike in unscripted series as networks grapple with scripted production hold-ups and uncertainty in the face of a potential writers’ strike. But in the face of a surging death toll from COVID-19, such musings seem inappropriate. Perhaps it’s better to think of the good that the non-fiction creative community can do in the face of a crisis — either through commissioning and producing content dealing with the situation through a factual lens and not a sensationalistic one, or by galvanizing top talents to spread awareness, sensitivity and even inspiration, rather than panic and fear. One thing is for certain. Once this crisis subsides, we will all live within a “new normal.” What that will look like remains to be seen. But perhaps, at the risk of venturing into “silver lining” territory, as we move forward through 2020, we won’t be as quick to take things for granted as we did in years past.


The Year of Living Cautiously March + April 2020 Volume 23, Issue 3

Realscreen is published 4 times a year by Brunico Communications Ltd., 100- 366 Adelaide Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 1R9 Tel. 416-408-2300 Fax 416-408-0870

VP & Publisher Claire Macdonald Editor and Content Director Barry Walsh News Editor Daniele Alcinii Special Reports Editor Jillian Morgan Contributors Justin Lacob, John Smithson Associate Publisher Joel Pinto Senior Account Manager Kristen Skinner Marketing & Publishing Coordinator Suhail Sawant Art Director Mark Lacoursiere Print Production & Distribution Supervisor Adriana Ortiz Lead Conference Producer Tiffany Rushton

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May/June 2020 Editorial features include: • On The Slate: New Programming on the Way • The Reality Report • Archive and Production Music Focus • Doc Focus • Fresh Talent Focus Bonus distribution: AFI Docs, Banff World Media Festival, Realscreen West, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Sunny Side of the Doc, Toronto International Film Festival. Subject to change Booking deadline: May 4th Digital advertising: Daily newsletter and

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Moving forward through trying times


writing this on March 9, 2020. A couple of hours ago trading on the NYSE, Nasdaq and TSX was briefly halted as circuit breakers designed to slow down panic selling kicked in within minutes of opening. Italy has imposed a lockdown on 16 million residents. Oil prices plummeted by over 30 per cent over the previous weekend and the travel industry is reeling as people ditch holiday plans and non-essential business travel. All of this, in reaction to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Retailers were quick to capitalize on widespread panic, with disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and disposable gloves being given front-of-store placement in many of the stores I went to prior to writing this. I’m booked on a cruise to the Caribbean out of Miami in mere days, and am torn between the warnings in the wake of coronavirus outbreaks on a couple of cruise ships, and my resolve to not panic, be sensible and stay the course. It’s a tough decision. And tough decisions are being made by conference organizers the world over, many of them impacting the business of unscripted and non-fiction entertainment. The decision of Reed MIDEM, organizers of MIPTV, to cancel the spring market was followed by that of the City of Austin kiboshing SXSW due to fears of increasing the spread of the virus. And a number of networks are replacing their live upfront presentations with virtual events. As conference organizers, we are keeping a close watch on the situation and will be following the guidelines set out by the World Health Organization, as well as local and national health agencies. Concern for the health and safety of our clients and staff is paramount. So is our mandate to provide meaningful opportunities for our community to congregate and network and ultimately drive business. Realscreen West is three months away, and since no one knows when coronavirus will be contained, we are forging ahead in anticipation that it will be sooner than later, and look forward to welcoming delegates and sponsors to our 2020 location in Dana Point. We are delighted to announce two amazing keynote speakers at this early stage. Jennifer O’Connell, EVP, Original Non-Fiction and Kids Programming for HBO Max, and Rob Sharenow, President of Programming for A+E Networks will each take part in keynote conversations during the conference, which takes place June 2-4. Both are leaders in the unscripted space and will provide unique insights into the ever-changing business we work in. Hope to see you there.

‘Til then, go well and wash your hands! Claire Macdonald VP & publisher Realscreen PS: I canceled the cruise and booked a Caribbean getaway. Two days before flying, the Canadian government warned citizens against all non-essential travel.







Q&A with Julian Hector, BBC Studios NHU

John Smithson on life in the trenches



By Daniele Alcinii

When Brexit first reared its head and the “Leave” vote resonated across various business sectors throughout the UK and Europe, many within the creative industries wondered about the potential impact on TV and film. While some questions remain unanswered, the overall sentiment is “business as usual”... for now.




he United Kingdom has been shrouded in a cloud of economic uncertainty since There are clearly issues which Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in June 2016. need to be sensibly addressed, Since the Brexit referendum, more than and they can be, but we’re 140 corporations — from Britain, the Americas actually experiencing a boom and Asia — across all business sectors have moved their operations from the UK to the in production in the UK.” Netherlands, with 78 opening shop in 2019 alone. The figures come from the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, which has further stated that it is McVay in talks with approximately 425 companies that are currently reviewing the structure of their European operations. The UK television industry has not managed to escape the tumult of Brexit unscathed. The region — Europe’s nerve center for global media companies — houses more than 700 international channels that broadcast to countries outside its borders. And while Britain remains the largest contributor in the overall supply of television channels through the European Union, market share in the UK has dropped 5% year-over-year since the Brexit referendum, according to data from the European Audiovisual Observatory. Discovery, ViacomCBS and Sony Pictures, meanwhile, are among the global media conglomerates to have shifted large portions of their UK-licensed television channels outside of the region in favor of opening shop in the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Spain, respectively. But as Brexit threatens to upend much of the UK’s economic sectors, non-fiction creatives throughout the region remain optimistic in the face of the unknown. There may be good reason. Though licenses may have Burstall relocated, the vast majority of channel groups are maintaining their footprint within Britain until trading arrangements in a postBrexit world are ironed out, according to research conducted by London–based global information provider IHS Markit. “There are clearly some issues which need to be sensibly addressed, and they can be, but we’re actually experiencing a We’re going to boom in production in the UK,” says John McVay, chief executive have to work of UK independent producers’ association Pact. “We’ve had the that much harder highest amount of inward investment ever over the past year and we’re seeing more and more investment from streamers being because there’s made into our audiovisual economy.” a bitter sense of In the wake of Brexit, McVay and his colleagues have been working hard to ensure that the UK’s television community can still acrimony that has operate unhindered. emerged through Pact, for instance, has been pressing the British government to this referendum “do everything they can” to ensure the UK’s membership in the Council of Europe’s Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT) process, and it’s is maintained. The treaty itself, which predates the formation going to take a of the EU, ensures that content originating within the UK, long time for that which “qualifies as British either through a tax credit or through indigenous products,” is classified within the parameters of the to heal.” “European works” content quota.



“That convention wasn’t reviewed under the current Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive,” says McVay, “but clearly, some of our competitors on the continent may see this as an opportunity to try and reduce the fact that we are net exporters of content into the European market.” Departing from the European Union however, McVay stresses, will not affect the UK’s standing within the ECTT, as the Council of Europe operates separately from the EU. For the time being at least, high-quality British programming will continue to be categorized as European for the majority of the territories content creators sell into. Nor will coproduction treaties, which are sovereign treaties between countries, be affected by the UK’s removal from Europe. The global television market — an estimated US$500 billion industry — has effectively created one of the world’s most open and free markets over the past 20 years by trading goods and services “quite liberally,” McVay says. “One of my frustrations is most of that’s been done without necessarily a lot of government intervention or support, so please don’t mess it up,” the Pact executive emphasizes. “We’ve built quite an open global market, which is doing well for everyone.” But will the UK continue to have the competitive advantage to draw the best international talent to its media centers? “That is of concern to me,” Argonon Group CEO James Burstall tells Realscreen. “We’ve got a particularly entrepreneurial [spirit] historically here and in this country, and we have attracted some of the best people from all over Europe. “We’re going to have to work that much harder because there’s a bitter sense of acrimony that has emerged through this referendum process, and it’s going to take a long time for that to heal.”


Genre: Docu-Series Duration: 3 X 60’ Available as Finished Tape and Format


Genre: Factual Duration: 150 X 60’ Available as Finished Tape and Format


Genre: Crime Duration: 228 X 60’ Available as Finished Tape


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l s a l e s @ g r b t v. c o m


I think it’s very much achievable that the people who are in the UK will already have a set status. We will help them get it and it’s, at the moment, a quite straightforward and easy process.”



Paris-headquartered Banijay Group, meanwhile, houses approximately 310 workers out of its offices in London on a permanent and freelance basis. Twenty-nine are non-UK or Irish passport holders, and, of those, a total of 20 are permanent citizens, says Banijay Group COO Peter Langenberg. Ten have settled status, while the remaining non-UK employees are in the midst of applying for indefinite leave to remain within the country’s borders. “You’re talking to a Dutch person working in the UK, so this is very personal to me,” Langenberg notes. “But if I look at the workforce at Banjiay, I think it’s very much achievable that the people who are in the UK will already have a set status. We will help them get it and it’s, at the moment, a quite straightforward and easy process. “Where we do anticipate issues is with international production,” the Banijay exec adds, noting that applying for working and journalistic visas could become a more costly and complicated endeavor. Mobility for project work is a crucial area of concern to business groups in a postBrexit economy. Great Britain’s audiovisual industry in particular relies heavily on the free movement of British and non-UK workers across borders to ensure a steady supply of talent and skills. The issue is of critical importance to the Argonon Group. Through its ‘Argonon for Everyone’ campaign, the Londonheadquartered super indie — committed to the Creative Diversity Network’s Diversity Pledge since 2009 — has built diversity into the company’s fabric by resolutely treating EU and non-EU creative talent equally. “We want to attract the greatest talents to work with us. Our DNA is international and open,” Burstall says. “It’s really important to us that we reflect the country that we live in and we work extremely hard to make sure, both on and off screen, we have a really strong and truly diversified workforce.” Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has implemented its plan for a points-based immigration system. The process, which has been met with opposition from various business groups, would prioritize highly skilled workers above all else by assigning points for “specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions.” Only those who meet a score of 70 would be given visas. The proposed changes would take effect from January 1, 2021.

“There is a soft spectrum of complexity and burden, and we don’t really know yet which way it’s going to go but we’ve got to work with our colleagues in the British Film Institute, U.S. studios and other UK broadcasters,” explains McVay. “What actions we have to take will depend very much on what the settlement is with the EU.” What is guaranteed for British creatives is the assurance that UK organizations can continue to apply for Creative Europe funding — meant to strengthen the competitiveness of the European creative sectors — until the current program ends this December, as defined by the Withdrawal Agreement act. In other words, beneficiaries need not be concerned about their funding abruptly being canceled. The civic and social organization has previously stated that it will honor all contracts awarded during or prior to the implementation period and that covers the entire duration of the projects, including those that continue after January 1, 2021. However, in late February, the UK government released a policy paper, “Our Approach to the Future Relationship with the EU,” which detailed plans for approaching future negotiations with the European Union, and no mention was made of Creative Europe, or of participating in the next program (January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2027). That led to calls from Pact, Bectu and other organizations and government officials for answers on how that important funding — available to be accessed by UK prodcos, distributors and sales houses — will be replaced going forward. “The UK Government’s decision to exclude Creative Europe from the scope of future relationship negotiations with the EU is incomprehensible,” said Scottish government culture secretary Fiona Hyslop in a statement issued after the policy paper’s release. “There was no need to take the program off the table, as it is entirely possible to participate as a non-EU state.” “We are in this netherworld of the transition period where not an awful lot has changed yet,” sums up Burstall. “We may see things evolving in the coming months, but it’s going to be up to the [government] to prove that they can deliver on the sunlit uplands that they have promised.” (With files from Barry Walsh)




BBC Studios Natural History Unit What makes Planet Earth III such an ambitious project for the studio? It’ll be an absolute whole world view. We’ve just recently broadcast Seven Worlds, One Planet, and that went incredibly well with audiences, and that was about the seven continents. Planet Earth III will not only be telling stories about the continents, but it’ll also be telling stories about our coastlines and our oceans as well… We’re going further and we’re going longer to find new stories. We have an episode on extreme worlds, and we haven’t done that for a long time. We’ll be spending more time in the field than ever, and we’ll have the very, very best men and women available to make the films.


ueled by the success of its landmark natural history series such as Planet Earth II and Seven Worlds, One Planet, BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit is firing on all cylinders. At the helm is Julian Hector, head of the NHU. Hector began his natural history career at the unit in 1993, producing series such as Battle of the Sexes and Wild Africa before becoming an executive producer for the unit’s television department, working on series such as Tigers About the House and Ivory Wars for ‘Panorama.’ Since being elevated to his current role in 2016, the NHU has been behind such acclaimed titles as Blue Planet II and Dynasties, and slated projects such as Climate Change — The Facts, a coproduction with IWC Media for PBS; Animal Impossible, a collaboration with Migu Video; and The New World, a recent commission from American broadcast network NBC, to name a few. As the studio gears up to release “super-landmark” titles Green Planet, Frozen Earth II and Planet Earth III — its debut in 2022 coinciding with the British pubcaster’s 100-year anniversary — Realscreen caught up with Hector to talk about the upcoming slate and producing natural history in an evershifting entertainment landscape.

What do you think is driving the resurgence of natural history programming? There are two enormous forces. The fundamental one, which is where our stories are, is the natural world. The natural world is under threat… Huge forces, beyond climate change, in terms of the ways in which lands and oceans are being exploited, are putting enormous pressure on the natural world, and our relationship with it is changing. The second thing is that broadcasting is changing, broadcasters are changing. More companies are setting up streamers, for example. More platforms and companies want to futureproof their catalog of natural history, they want to serve their audiences. So you have these two enormous forces of an increased desire to be immersed in the natural world, [and] to explore our relationship with nature.

Global streamers and commercial broadcasters are jumping on the natural history trend. How does that impact the NHU? It’s a real opportunity in the market out there… We’re very keen to be competitive in the market and deliver the best in bold natural history, which we’ve done for a long time. BBC Studios has a special relationship with a number of companies. PBS is one, as a coproducer, while Discovery is another, which is setting up its own streamer. But we work with others as well… We can’t do everything for everyone. Within the market, what we can do is find those customers who particularly value the work of the Natural History Unit, and develop work for them so that we can serve their audiences.

How do you see the natural history audience shifting, and how is the NHU adapting its content to appeal to a younger demographic with new consumption habits? Storytelling is changing, and I’m very, very proud to say that the Natural History Unit is at the forefront of innovative storytelling. Storytelling, now, is about immersing audiences in the story and emotionally engaging them with it, which often means telling stories around the intentions of individual animals. Audiences all over the world really care about animals and animal welfare… Younger audiences, particularly, are treasuring the natural world. They, particularly, are an audience type that likes to emotionally engage in these stories and the way that we’re looking after them is that not only are we doing these big landmarks, but we’re also finding ways to provide really exciting, short form content, too. Younger audiences are immensely intelligent, they’re very discerning and they’re capable of enjoying content in all its forms. And what we have to make sure of is that we are delivering well-told stories, which are special and unique, in different ways. Jillian Morgan 013



By John Smithson


here has never been a time such as now, when things are changing at such a dizzying pace. I’ve often reflected in these columns about the seismic shifts affecting what we do. We continually manage the relentless transition from a broadcaster/cable dominant environment with clear rules of engagement for producers, be they “wannabe” or battlehardened; to the massively complex, constantly evolving and often baffling ecosystem in which we now have to survive. This challenge is very much on my mind after a couple of weeks recently in the U.S., on both East and West coasts, with a stopover in New Orleans for the Realscreen Summit. What was abundantly clear from all the conversations is that change is happening fast, literally on a daily basis. Maybe I’ve spent too long trying to spot the edits in Sam Mendes’s brilliant WW1 movie 1917, but trenches keep coming to mind. It seems that both broadcasters and producers are wondering — when do you go over the top, and when and how do you fight the battle? The established channels are all brilliant brands with long histories of doing distinctive things. But in the recent past, there was a creative drift from their editorial core, as they sought to find ratings by moving into new territory. But now, rather like discovering a long lost lover, many are seeking to return to their roots. Ensconced in their trenches, they’re safe in the comfort of doing the things they do best. “Old’ is the new “new.” They peep over the edges of these trenches as the new armies arrive — the steamers engorged with the mighty wealth of some of the world’s biggest companies — and look on in trepidation. These new forces can cherry pick what they want — ideas, talent, territory — for whatever it might cost. Sometimes a gigantic white sheet of paper must feel scary — what is it you


really want to do? But it can be exciting. The streamers have that total freedom and, as producers working with them, so do we. I love being told to take my fledgling idea and execute it in a way that has never been done before. What’s the point in being a producer if you can’t let your imagination run riot? Inevitably there are skirmishes. Take what’s happening with natural history, the genre du jour. For a long time it has been the exclusive domain of the PSBs, notably the BBC’s NHU. But now every streamer wants their big shiny natural history series. In this animal arms race, the bar is pushed higher and higher. It’s perfect SVOD territory — timeless, global, language neutral and with massive family appeal. The elegant Georgian streets of Bristol are the new Klondike, with the streets literally paved with gold if you happen to be a seasoned showrunner or a brilliant DP.

It seems that both broadcasters and producers are wondering — when do you go over the top, and when and how do you fight the battle?” Natural history is only the beginning. The race for top content from reliable partners is going to spread to all the other key genres in the non-scripted firmament. Back home in the UK, forget the trenches. It’s war. The BBC and the new Conservative government are gearing up for a battle with massive consequences for the UK sector and beyond. It’s big deal stuff. It’s ostensibly all about how the BBC is funded, license or subscription. But it is also about many other things, and is likely to ripple through the sector and beyond. Perhaps perversely, I think it is a great time to be a producer. Picking your way delicately around the trenches can be challenging, risky and stress inducing. But, amidst all the chaos and the seemingly daily change, there is massive opportunity. John Smithson is creative director of Arrow Pictures, a feature and high-end factual label created out of Arrow, the leading indie which he co-founded in 2011.


JUNE 2-4, 2020

The West Coast’s premier unscripted and non-fiction entertainment conference

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BUILT TO LAST The premiere of the U.S. version of Lego Masters on Fox racked up 4.8 million total viewers.

The team behind Lego Masters shares with Realscreen why its format is standing tall when so many other toy and gamebased formats have toppled. By Jillian Morgan




the 1980s and ‘90s, NBC’s Scrabble, Freeform’s Boggle and ABC’s Monopoly were just a few of the shortlived formats born from toys and board games that enjoyed better popularity off-screen. Decades later, in the early 2010s, shows that built on the trend such as Discovery Family’s (formerly Hub Network’s) The Game of Life, Family Game Night and Scrabble Showdown achieved more success, though by just a small margin. Translating toys to television, it would seem, is no small feat. Lego Masters is another story. The format, first created by UK prodco Tuesday’s Child for Channel 4, puts amateur Lego builders to the test through a series of challenges. After it premiered in August 2017, Lego Masters became the British pubcaster’s highest rated new series to date, nearly doubling its primetime average with young adults.

Developing with toy brands has been around for a long time in the U.S. But it’s not as easy as associating the brand with a TV show.”

Endemol Shine International (ESI) picked up the global rights to the format not long after, launching the Endemol Shine Australia-produced adaptation for Nine Network, where it has been recommissioned for a second season. Since then, ESI has tapped its local production teams to bring the format to Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. In July 2019, Fox greenlit the U.S. version from Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and Endemol Shine North America. It premiered Feb. 5 as the network’s highest rated debut since The Masked Singer.

“It’s a real case of standing on the shoulders of giants,” Rob Wade, president of alternative entertainment and specials at Fox Entertainment, says. “When each and every person who is added to a show or developed it is raising it… With so much competition in the U.S. market, everyone has to be on their A game, and that’s how you get a hit.” BRICK BY BRICK There’s no set of prescribed building blocks that guarantees a toy-based format will attain international success. Still, according to the teams behind Lego Masters, laying the groundwork in full partnership with a brand is the place to start. “You have to know what it is you’re working with and make sure whatever content you create with that IP at its center is reflective of why people like that IP in the first place,” Sharon Levy, president of scripted and unscripted at Endemol Shine North America, explains. The format was inspired by a Channel 4 documentary that went behind the scenes at the Lego Group, says Karen Smith, CEO and managing director of Tuesday’s Child. Smith, who previously served as joint managing director of MasterChef producer Shine TV, hoped to harness the talent of Lego builders into a show that was “colorful and funny and moving and spectacular.” “It was important for us to get Lego on board because that meant it was the competition of the most prestige for these builders,” she says. “That took a while, for absolutely fair reasons… They’d rather do nothing than do something that could risk offending their fans or diminishing the brand.” Lego Masters executive producer Robert May, part of the Lego Group, says creating a competition series was on the company’s radar for years, but it was a matter of finding “the right partner.” “Tuesday’s Child really had a super dynamic approach to building with Lego,” he adds. Smith kept Lego abreast of the project at all stages. “As a courtesy, we also showed them the finished edits and checked that everything was correct and factual,” she explains. “But they didn’t have any editorial sign off… It was a completely independent production for Channel 4.” 019



Girts Licis, head of strategy at UK-based consultancy K7 Media, says for production companies partnering with a brand, there’s always a “risk of losing creative control.” “The first and natural instinct of those who have the money is that they hold the power and naturally want to be in control, but smart marketers will always trust the producers and creatives who know what they are doing,” he adds. “These days, when there are so many choices all around, joining forces in partnerships can be crucial to get through all the surrounding noise and get noticed.” May says Lego’s involvement is largely related to the technical aspect of creating a show about brick building and ensuring “everybody coming out of this has a really great experience.” He adds: “We’re not prescriptively coming into a market and saying, ‘You have to use this host.’ We expect the regions and each broadcaster to understand their platforms better than we do. So it’s a very open, creative collaboration.” That collaboration has trickled through to local adaptations cropping up across the globe. “I couldn’t think of a better partner. Their reach, their scope, their kindness; they’re quick to help. They know their brand inside and out,” Levy says. “If you follow any of their feeds or any of their platforms, they’re constantly promoting and are instrumental in also helping us know what’s feasible in the challenges. We even had a representative from Lego who came to the casting audition and was able to walk us through how the contestants that we were looking at were doing and how they felt their build would be under serious pressure. “They’ve been a very big guiding force throughout all of this.”






“IP DOES MATTER” Though relatively in its infancy, Lego Masters has taken the concept of a toybased format to new heights — but it’s not the only IP of its kind capturing the attention of producers or broadcasters. In October 2019, Endemol Shine North America announced plans to develop the board game Guess Who? into a game show with Allspark Pictures, Hasbro’s Burbank-based production and distribution arm. Before that, in August 2019, Hasbro entered an agreement to acquire Toronto-based studio Entertainment One (eOne). Prior to that, both companies partnered in 2017 to produce

the competitive series Boggle Battle, a project that has yet to come to fruition. For Fox’s Wade, creating a successful format isn’t as simple as securing IP. “Developing with toy brands has been around for a long time now in the U.S,” he says. “But [hits are] difficult to achieve. It’s not as easy as associating the brand with a TV show.” K7’s Licis echoes Wade, explaining that shows such as Lego Masters superserve a shift from individual to “society,” offering an opportunity to connect generations. “Any format these days is expected to be as flexible and scalable as possible,” he adds. “There

will always be room for these formats. The question is, how successfully will they find their right channel, the platform that reaches its target audience at the right time, at the right place and on the right device as well?” In a world of choice, Levy says Lego Masters’ success doesn’t just point to a trend of turning toys and games into TV. “Across every medium in the entertainment field, IP does matter,” she says. “Whether it’s a book, a game, a toy, a movie from yesteryear — everyone is constantly looking for IP that can connect personally to the audience. I don’t think that’s a fad that’s ever going to go out of style.”



© H. M. Muñiz


© Florian Schulz







+1 50 MIN. × 2 I T E SERENG


2 × 53 M E LIVES

1 × 50 MIN.


× 90 MIN





Spring brings May flowers, but before that, it usually brings scores of content buyers and sellers from around the world to Cannes for the annual MIPTV market. But as we know, this year is different. Prior to the cancellation of the market, the editorial team at Realscreen combed through a veritable slew of clips from assorted projects to offer our picks of programming worth checking out. These projects are still being shopped, so we want to shine the spotlight on what we will call, for this year, our Spring Picks for 2020.



Sing Me a Song We first met Bhutanese monk Peyangki in French filmmaker Thomas Balmes 2013 film Happiness, which depicted the life of the then eight-year-old child as he moved through his days blissfully free of the trappings of modernity. Fast forward to 2020 and Peyangki, and many of his schoolmates, are caught up in the wired world, with the young man now contemplating giving up the monastic life to bring his virtual relationship with his “girlfriend” from the city, Ugyen, into the real world. This feature doc examines the ever increasing impact of technology on corners of the world — and humanity — that it hadn’t troubled before.

BEST IN SHOW Partners: TBC Productions, Participant Media, zero one film, Close Up Films, ARTE France Cinéma, RTS - Radio Télévision Suisse for ARTE France, RTS; distributed by Dogwoof Length: 1 x 99 minutes Premiered: September 2019 Rights available: World excluding France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland



Generation Dating Romance is beguiling — and perplexing — to young and old alike, and the prospect of looking for true love at any age can be a daunting one. But maybe it’s all just a matter of perspective. This format from Ireland’s Coco Content brings together singles from two vastly different age demographics — 18-35 and 65+ — to advise each other on affairs of the heart. A younger singleton is paired with, shall we say, a more mature individual also looking for their soulmate, and the two share with each other their hard won wisdom for wooing. The teammates help each other find dates, prep each other for their big nights out, and then get the lowdown on how it all went, along with the rest of us. This format could inspire co-viewing not only between genders but also across generations.

Anthropocene: The Rise of Humans Partners: Coco Content for Virgin Media One and A+E Networks; distributed by A+E International Length: 1 x 60 minutes Aired: February 2020 Rights available: Worldwide excl. Ireland, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Not to be confused with the Jennifer Baichwal/ Nicholas de Pencier doc of the same name, this three-part miniseries similarly explores the impact humanity has had on planet Earth and its natural systems, but through perhaps a more optimistic lens. While examining the devastating side effects of some human endeavors, the project also devotes its attention to some of the cutting edge science and technology being employed to combat and potentially correct the damage inflicted upon our home. Shot with state of the art invasive cameras, drones and macro lenses in 4K over the span of two years, this program, with its marriage of science, natural history and social commentary, aims to inspire and educate.

Partners: ZDF in association with ZDF Enterprises; distributed by ZDFE Length: 3 x 50 minutes Airing: March 2020 Rights available: All rights, worldwide

© Lee Miller Archives, England 2020. All rights reserved.


Coded World Whether it’s the process of deciding what to watch on our favourite SVOD platform, or the development of potentially game-changing artificial intelligence, the almighty algorithm is playing an increasingly important role in our day to day lives — a role that we are barely conscious of. The data we generate through our lifestyles, our choices, our work, and myriad other aspects of our existence is being used to shape the world around us, providing incredible levels of convenience… but at what cost? Author, journalist and mathematician Anjan Sundaram takes a deep dive into the Algorithm Age to reveal with it’s providing us with, and what it could be taking away.

Capturing Lee Miller Partners: Peddling Pictures for Channel News Asia; distributed by Boat Rocker Rights Length: 4 x 60 minutes Premiered: September 2019 (Channel News Asia) Rights available: All rights, worldwide

Artist muse, trailblazing photographer, feminist icon — Lee Miller was all of this and more. Beginning her foray into culture in front of the camera as a model for Vogue and for surrealist photographer Man Ray, Miller would go on to develop her own style and sensibility as a photographer, moving from fashion shoots to war correspondent for British Vogue. While she gained notoriety by being photographed taking a bath in Hitler’s bathtub in his vacated Munich apartment on the day the tyrant committed suicide, her cultural contribution, as illustrated in this documentary overview of her life, goes far beyond that image.

Partners: Erica Starling Productions, Ronachan Films; financed by BBC Arts, Northern Ireland Screen, ZDF Arte, SVT and Moviestar+; distributed by MetFilm Sales Length: 1 x 59 minutes Airing: May 2020 Rights available: World excluding UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain



The Last Artifact Since the days of the French Revolution, the world has subscribed to a mode of measurement that is contained within a small metallic cylinder, housed in a super secure vault somewhere outside of Paris. But now, all of that is changing as teams of scientists from around the world contend with how to modernize measurement of weight, with the end results sure to have far-reaching impact across every aspect of our lives. In this science thriller, filmmakers Jaime Jacobsen and Ed Watkins track the efforts of these scientists who, in the process of potentially changing history, have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

High Arctic Haulers Partners: Montana PBS and Montana State University; distributed by PBS International Length: 1 x 56 minutes Rights available: All rights, worldwide

Costa Rica: The Rise of Nature At a time when the threat of climate change looms largely in the public consciousness and the political arena, a good news story concerning the environment is perhaps hard to come by. But this three-parter provides reason for optimism. As home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity, and to myriad ecosystems ranging from dry forests to rainforests and from volcanoes to marine parks, this Central American country has proven the value of adopting innovative and ambitious environmental policies. Here, you’ll see the wonder of this region’s flora and fauna, and meet some of the scientists and citizens working to keep their country on the vanguard of the fight against potentially catastrophic climate change.



Canada’s Arctic Archipelago houses some of the most remote communities on the Earth. Every year, ships filled with important supplies, ranging from food to medical materials to clothing, make the perilous journey across treacherous, ice-laden seas to deliver the much needed haul to the High Arctic’s inhabitants. This access-driven series provides a close look at the men and women behind the haul, and the resilient inhabitants of the communities at the top of the world.

Partners: Great Pacific Media for CBC; distributed by Beyond Distribution Length: 8 x 60 minutes Aired: January 2020 (CBC) Rights available: Worldwide excluding Canada

Clean Torture Partners: Bamboo Doc for ARTE France; distributed by Off the Fence Length/volume: 3 x 60 minutes Airing: TBD Rights available: Worldwide excluding France & German speaking territories

War is messy, brutal business, and the advent of “sophisticated” torture techniques in the 20th century, which moved from physical pain to psychological brutality, made it even more horrifying. The KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual, created by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in 1963, spelled out various approaches to “no touch” torture, with some of those methods seemingly employed in more recent conflicts. This doc looks at the history of modern, “clean” torture through eyeopening footage and interviews with former practitioners and victims.

Partners: Program 33 for ARTE France; distributed by Zed Length: 1 x 52 minutes Aired: November 2019 (ARTE) Rights available: Worldwide


Gorillas Under Stress (w/t) With heightened attention being paid to the plight of animal species hovering near extinction, good news stories are hard to come by. One such story involves the mountain gorilla, whose numbers have grown to more than 1,000 following conservation efforts in their two Eastern African habitats. But the news isn’t all good, as the habitats — two small, green islands — are surrounded by an area containing the highest population density in Africa, making expansion prohibitive. Also, as the gorilla population grows, so too does inter-group conflict. This program examines the issue as well as the delicate balance that allows the creatures to coexist with each other, and with human beings.

Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos Partners: In One Media for MDR, ARTE; distributed by Albatross World Sales Length: 1 x 52 minutes Airing: 2020 Rights available: All rights, worldwide

The story of how Jeff Bezos’ online book-selling shop became a trillion dollar retail and tech behemoth, making Bezos one of the world’s richest people in the process, is a fascinating one, as seen in this documentary for WGBH investigative strand ‘Frontline.’ While Bezos doesn’t sit down for a new on-camera interview for this program, we do see plenty of archive material that documents his course, and that of the company, to the global commercial juggernaut it is today. Current and former employees provide varying perspectives on working within the Amazon empire, while commentary and up to date analysis of current controversies around the company and its ever expanding mission make for riveting viewing.

Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier

Living on the Veg

Like the arms race, the “space race” was a significant component of the Cold War, as the U.S. and the Soviet Union battled each other for supremacy in the exploration of the outer reaches. And one little known aspect of that competition was the race to put the first black astronaut into the Earth’s orbit. This special features interviews with the astronauts vying for that honor, their families, and incredible footage that ties together three notable pillars of recent history: the Civil Rights Movement. the space race and the Cold War.

Whether it’s a choice made due to personal health, ethics or environmental concerns, the good news is that many of us are choosing to eat healthier these days, and in many cases that involves embracing a vegan diet. But preparing tasty, vibrant vegan fare is still a relative mystery for those making the leap. Enter chefs Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, two folks who know their way around a kitchen and have a flair for fine vegan and vegetarian fare. From stir fries to luscious layer cakes, to “Camembert hedgehog bread”, Henry and Ian, along with their guest chefs, will open up new healthy horizons for those interested in “living on the veg.”

Partners: Brook Lapping Productions for Smithsonian Networks; distributed by Off the Fence Length: 1 x 60 minutes Aired: February 2020 (Smithsonian Channel, U.S.) Rights available: Worldwide excluding North America, South America, UK

Partners: A ‘Frontline’ Production with Left/Right Docs for WGBH; distributed by PBS International Length: 2 x 60 minutes; 1 x 120 minutes Aired: February 2020 (PBS) Rights available: All rights, worldwide

Partners: Rock Oyster Media for ITV; distributed by Cineflix Rights Length: 10 x 60 minutes Aired: January 2020 (ITV) Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK



King of the Cruise Upon first glance, Ronald Reisinger may appear to be somewhat unassuming — one of scores of people of a certain age who embark on pleasure cruises to various tourist havens. But once he dons his trusty red cape, Reisinger — or Baron Ronald Busch Reisinger from Inneryne as he is also known — assumes a more regal air. This feature from Amsterdam-based director Sophie Dros follows the Baron as he regales fellow cruise passengers with incredible tales from his life, but also accompanies him in quieter moments, away from his captive audience, where he reveals more of what’s behind the fantastical façade.

Ocean Autopsy Partners: Halal for BNNVARA (The Netherlands); distributed by Dogwoof, Cinema Delicatessen Length: 1 x 74 minutes; 1 x 55 minutes Aired: January 2020 (ITV) Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK

As with MIPCOM, a sizable amount of projects that came our way for review for our annual MIPTV Picks deal with environmental issues and the damage humanity is doing to the Earth’s ecosystems. But as commissioning editors are quick to point out, even if audiences want to support change, they don’t want to be lectured to. This program brings together leading oceanographer Dr. Helen Czerski and zoologist Dr. George McGavin who conduct an “autopsy” on the ocean itself — analyzing water toxicity and the impact that pollutants are having on both marine life and human beings. Importantly, the project also spotlights ways in which we are working to correct the course.

Partners: Pioneer Productions for BBC Four; distributed by Passion Distribution Length: 1 x 90 minutes Airing: TBD (BBC4) Rights available: Worldwide

M Building Historic Homes One of the biggest selling points for real estate-based factual entertainment is the transformational element — watching a property evolve from ghastly to gorgeous. Here, UK prodco Windfall Films follows the progress as contractors and architects work to transform historical, heritage buildings and structures into unique homes. From dilapidated barns to cavernous churches and weathered windmills, you’ll see how craftspeople combine modern techniques with respect for the work of bygone eras to create something truly timeless.



Abba: Secrets of their Greatest Hits Partners: Windfall Films for Channel 4 (UK) & Seven Network (Australia); distributed by Cineflix Rights Length: 8 x 60 minutes Airing: Autumn, TBD Rights available: Worldwide excluding UK and Ireland

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Swedish supergroup Abba was more than a global pop sensation… it was practically a force of nature. Consisting of two married couples — Agnetha Fältskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Anna-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson — the group garnered hit after hit in territories around the world, selling tens of millions of albums in the process. But like another massively popular group that peaked commercially in the same era while also featuring romantically linked members, Fleetwood Mac, Abba’s fortunes would change when the relationships within the band did. This special looks at the group through the prism of three of its biggest hits — the effervescent Mamma Mia, club anthem Dancing Queen and the melancholy Winner Takes It All — with rare footage and insider interviews helping to tell the stories behind the music.

Partners: Produced and distributed by Viacom International Studios Length: 1 x 90 minutes Aired: October 2019 (Channel 5, UK) Rights available: Worldwide


Dying Alone

Malawi Wildlife Rescue

Japan’s elderly population is on the rise, and with it, the number of people dying alone in their apartments, often undiscovered for substantial lengths of time after they pass away. The phenomenon of kodokushi, or “lonely deaths”, has created a grisly yet lucrative business opportunity for cleaners who take on the task of cleaning the apartments where the bodies have been found. This documentary examines the story through the perspectives of those who are, through the simple act of cleaning house, dignifying the existence of those who had to die alone.

Partners: Directed by Artyom Somov, produced by RTD for RT; distributed by Ruptly Length: 1 x 25 minutes Aired: March 2019 (RT) Rights available: All rights, worldwide

This docuseries from natural history/wildlife specialists Icon Films follows the team at the only wildlife rescue center in Malawi, Africa. Cameras capture the action as the animal rescuers, including American veterinarian Amanda Salb, Dutch-born head of animal care Alma van Dorenmalen and visiting British vet Sophie Widdowson, contend with the challenges that crop up during the rainy season — power cuts, and increase in orphaned animals among them — in order to bring their patients back to health, and back into the wild.

Partners: Icon Films for Love Nature; distributed by Blue Ant International Length/volume: 6 x 60 minutes Aired: February 2020 (Love Nature) Rights available: Worldwide, excluding UK and North America



Botswana 52‘ Nature . Wildlife


Claude Monet - In the Light of the Moment 52‘ Arts . Lifestyle

Berlin 1945

3 x 50‘, 1 x 180‘, 2 x 90‘ History


ARTE DISTRIBUTION 8, rue Marceau 92785 Issy-les-Moulineaux Cedex 9 Contact: Céline Payot Lehmann tel: + 33 6 62 54 02 05 APT Worldwide 55 Summer Street Boston, MA 02110 U.S.A. Contact: Judy Barlow Tel: 1-617-338-4455

THE STORY OF DRUG TRAFFICKING by Julie Lerat and Christophe Bouquet 3x52’


From the 1880’s to today, discover the incredible saga of global drug trafficking, heroin, cocaine, opium, cannabis and other synthetic drugs. In a in depth chronological investigation, global geo politics and power struggles between states will be analyzed through an original angle. There are few commodities as global as drugs. How this trade influenced relations between states, global financial interests, secret diplomacies, secret special forces and mafias, on all continents over a century in a half.

a b

Hacking Your Mind (4x60) Series brings to life powerful new discoveries about how we make everyday decisions as basic as who to marry, what to eat, who to vote for, and what to buy. Understanding how we make these choices make us look at our lives in an entirely new way. HACKING YOUR MIND reveals how marketers, social media companies and politicians are taking advantage of these processes, and shows how we can all protect ourselves by ‘hacking our own minds.’ Curious Traveler (40x30) CURIOUS TRAVELER takes you deep inside the world’s most curious places to discover their hidden histories, mysteries and curiosities. Each episode uncovers the who, what, when, where, why and how of a new locale. Hosted and written by Emmy Award-winning journalist Christine van Blokland, CURIOUS TRAVELER is all about traveling like you’re trying to solve a mystery! a) Changing Seas (44x30) The Emmy®-winning nature series CHANGING SEAS is an eye-opening look at the earth’s last true frontier. Each episode takes viewers on an exciting adventure to the heart of our liquid planet, highlighting the unique research being conducted by undersea explorers. The series provides an unprecedented look at how oceanographers and scientists are uncovering new information that could lead to breakthroughs in areas such as medicine, alternative energy and conservation. b) Do No Harm: Exposing the Hippocratic Hoax (1x60) Doctors take an oath to save lives but research shows they are committing suicide at an alarming rate. Trapped in a healthcare system that puts everyone’s lives at risk, this is an epidemic that’s been hidden for decades. DO NO HARM examines the unforgiving world of medicine, and exposes the avoidable causes behind the high rate of suicide among physicians and medical students. c) Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi (38x30) Join award-winning travel host Mickela Mallozzi on a fun trek around the world, exploring culture, dance, genealogy and celebrations! In Season 1, Mickela travels to Buenos Aires, Italy, Turkey, South Korea, Austria, Malaysia and more. In Season 2, she explores all of the ethnic neighborhoods in New York City. And in Season 3, Mickela joins the DNA travel trend, tracing her genealogy through travel! Locations include Italy, Georgia, Romania, Greece, Spain, Catalonia, Uzbekistan, Morocco and Ireland.

MIPCOM LISTINGS AVAILABLE Contact Joel Pinto 416.408.0863



the second decade of the 2000s came to a close, the screen content landscape was on the verge of a substantial evolution, with several new platforms and services on the way for 2020. And just as executives and pundits have talked at length about scripted’s era of Peak TV, 2019 proved to be a banner year for producers of non-fiction content, be it “traditional” documentary or reality programming. Streaming platforms have embraced the genres even further with more commissions and sizable budgets, and several cable outlets that dipped their toes in scripted waters have returned to their unscripted roots. And as we find with each edition of the Global 100 that we publish, the number of production outfits held in high esteem by broadcasting partners and viewers alike also evolves, with emerging companies seen as bringing fresh creativity into the mix and


100 veteran prodcos giving the new kids on the block a run for their money. Our 14th Global 100 listing, compiled once again with input from the international non-fiction content community, serves as both an overview of the range of non-fiction and unscripted programming resonating with audiences worldwide and, of course, a collection of companies and creators seen by you, our readers, as the cream of the production crop. Note that, as always, companies owned by broadcasters that do substantial amounts of production for third parties are admissible for the list, but those that strictly produce for their own broadcast parents are not. And now, this year’s Global 100. Barry Walsh Editor and content director Realscreen 029


Buck Productions Toronto | Stalker Files; It Happened Here; 9K Racing

Cineflix Productions Toronto | American Pickers; Property Brothers

eOne (a Hasbro company) Toronto | Growing Up Hip Hop; Make It to the Moon

Frantic Films Toronto, Winnipeg | Backyard Builds; In Plain Sight

Great Pacific Television Vancouver | High Arctic Haulers; Highway Thru Hell


Insight Productions (a Boat Rocker Media company)



Toronto | Number of hours produced in 2019: 78 Number of employees: 27 staff, 150+ freelance Recent projects: The Dictator’s Playbook (PBS); Paranormal Emergency (Travel); BTK: A Killer Among Us (ID); Fear Thy Neighbor (ID); History Erased (History Canada); Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan (Animal Planet) Upcoming titles: Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan (Netflix, pictured); The Story of Late Night (CNN); unannounced projects for CNN, Investigation Discovery (two series), History Canada and Discovery UK Led by CEO David Brady and president Kate Harrison Karman, Cream Productions has created a name for itself since its founding in 2003 by pumping out award-winning programming that spans returnable series, miniseries, specials and digital content. In the last year alone, the Toronto-headquartered company produced 10 series and nearly 80 hours of programming, and, according to Brady and Harrison Karman, “remained committed to prioritizing our deep-dive true crime projects with access-driven series.” Highlights included Investigation Discovery’s BTK: A Killer Among Us and If I Should Die, and projects that broke into new genres for the company, such as Travel Channel’s Paranormal Emergency. Cream’s upcoming historical docudrama The Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan for Netflix, meanwhile, will explore the warring factions in feudal Japan that vied for power, and the warlords who led them. The premium content series, which will pay homage to noir graphic novels and Japanese art, is a coproduction with Smithsonian Canada. With offices in Toronto and Los Angeles, the award-winning studio has also been looking to expand its production capabilities from within, having recently launched the Cream Films documentary division with veteran award-winning film producer Corey Russell as executive vice president of the unit. The company has also bolstered its executive ranks by promoting long-time executive James Farr to VP of development, and hiring interactive veteran Johnny Kalangis as head of digital. Daniele Alcinii


Toronto | Amazing Race Canada; Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind

marblemedia Toronto | Blown Away; Landscape Artist of the Year

Markham Street Films Stratford | Pugly: A Pug’s Life; Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit

Media Headquarters Film & Television Toronto | Canada’s Smartest Person, Salvage Kings

Peacock Alley Entertainment Toronto | 50 Ways to Kill Your Mum; Jensplaining

Pixcom Montreal | Restoration Garage; You Can’t Ask That

Proper Television Toronto | Junior Chef Showdown; MasterChef Canada

Scott Brothers Entertainment Toronto | Brother vs. Brother; Property Brothers at Home

Shark Teeth Films Toronto | Vegas Cakes; Secrets in the Ice

Yap Films Toronto | Secrets of Noah’s Ark; The Genetic Revolution

1895 Films Calabasas, CA | Apollo: Missions to the Moon; Loch Ness Monster: New Evidence

44 Blue Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company) Burbank, CA | Jailbirds; First Responders Live; Wahlburgers 495 Productions (a Fremantle company) Burbank, CA | Jersey Shore: Family Vacation; Paradise Hotel

51 Minds (an Endemol Shine North America company) New York, NY | Below Deck: Mediterranean; The Grand Hustle

Ample Entertainment Culver City, CA | The Lost Gold of World War II; Murder in the Heartland

Big Fish Entertainment (an MGM TV company) New York, NY | Live PD, Black Ink Crew; Live Rescue


Blackfin (an eOne company)

A SMITH & CO. (A Tinopolis Group company) Toluca Lake, CA | Number of employees: 100 Number of hours produced in 2019: approximately 200 Recent projects: The Titan Games, American Ninja Warrior (NBC); Hell’s Kitchen, Mental Samurai (Fox); Unsung (BET) Upcoming projects: The Titan Games Season 2, American Ninja Warrior Season 12, American Ninja Warrior Junior Season 2, Hell’s Kitchen Seasons 19 & 20, Unsung Season 11 and Ellen’s Home Design Challenge (HBO Max) Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, A. Smith & Co., founded by Canadian-born production veteran Arthur Smith, has been a mainstay in reality television practically since the birth of the genre. From such early broadcast forays as The Swan and Paradise Hotel for Fox, to American vehicles for superstar chef Gordon Ramsay including Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen, to such current unscripted staples as American Ninja Warrior for NBC, the ‘A’ in the company name could very well stand for “adrenaline”, with each series combining high stakes with dramatic pacing. 2019 marked a particularly eventful year for the prodco and for Smith, with the producer being appointed as chairman of the U.S. division of A. Smith & Co. parent company Tinopolis, giving him oversight of Tinopolis-owned Magical Elves. On the series front, the company teamed up with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for another big, loud physical competition series for NBC, The Titan Games (pictured), which has already been greenlit for season two. Hell’s Kitchen, Fox’s longest-running reality series, moved to Las Vegas for seasons 19 and 20, and the prodco staked its claim on the streaming space with an upcoming series for HBO Max, Ellen’s Home Design Challenge with Ellen DeGeneres, and a couple of series for Netflix that have yet to be announced. Barry Walsh

New York, NY | Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez; Finding Escobar’s Millions

Bunim/Murray Productions (a Banijay company) Glendale, CA | Born This Way; Surviving R. Kelly (with Kreativ Inc.)

Critical Content Los Angeles, CA | Very Cavallari; Catfish: The TV Show

Stephen David Entertainment (a Banijay company) New York, NY | Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle; Sugar Town

Dorsey Pictures (a Red Arrow Studios company) Littleton, CO | Dog’s Most Wanted; Building Alaska

Endemol Shine North America North Hollywood, CA | MasterChef; The Masked Singer (with Smart Dog Media)

Evolution Media (an MGM TV company) Burbank, CA | The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills; Botched!; Vanderpump Rules

Florentine Films Walpole, NH | Country Music

Fly On the Wall Entertainment North Hollywood, CA | Big Brother; Will Smith: The Jump



Fremantle North America Burbank, CA | America’s Got Talent; American Idol

Glass Entertainment Group Philadelphia, PA | Manson: The Women; The Vet Life

Herzog & Co. North Hollywood, CA | The Movies; The Witnesses

High Noon Entertainment (an ITV America company) Sherman Oaks, CA; Denver | Cake Boss; Fixer Upper; Good Bones

Intellectual Property Corporation (an Industrial Media company) Los Angeles, CA | Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath; Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole

ITV Entertainment Los Angeles, New York | Love Island; Queer Eye (with Scout Productions)

Jupiter Entertainment (a Sky company) Knoxville, TN | Murder Chose Me; Snapped


(A Kew Media Group company) New York, NY | Recent projects: Salt Fat Acid Heat, Dirty Money (Netflix); The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (HBO); Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (A&E, pictured); Why We Hate (Discovery) Upcoming projects: Crazy, Not Insane (feature doc) Jigsaw Productions is the New York-headquartered shingle established by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, director of such acclaimed documentary films as Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Taxi to the Dark Side and The Smartest Guys in the Room, to name a few. Gibney — whom The New York Times referred to as “one of America’s most successful and prolific documentary filmmakers” in 2015 — founded the prodco in 2012 in partnership with Content Media (which was later acquired by Kew). The partnership allowed Jigsaw to expand further into feature films and the unscripted television series arena. Among the company’s swath of award-winning, buzzworthy releases from the past few years are the six-part Netflix series Dirty Money; HBO’s The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival; the four-part Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat; and Enemies: The President, Justice & The FBI, which aired on Showtime in November 2018. From geopolitics to sports, finance and music, the prodco has made its mark producing “well-told, insightful, scrupulously researched, and visually poignant stories” for myriad platforms. In the last year, the company has partnered with HBO Max for the upcoming 10-part series Generation Hustle (w/t); premiered the docuseries Why We Hate on Discovery Channel, coproduced with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television; and premiered Hip-Hop: The Songs That Shook America on AMC. Gibney’s latest doc, Crazy, Not Insane, examines the work of psychiatrist Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis, who studied serial killers in order to find a “unified field theory” about what drives one to kill. Jillian Morgan



Karga Seven Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company) Los Angeles | Unexplained and Unexplored; Mission Declassified

Left/Right (a Red Arrow Studios company) New York | The Circus,The Weekly

Leftfield Pictures (an ITV America company) New York | Pawn Stars, Alone

Lighthearted Entertainment Burbank, CA | Are You The One?; Ready to Love

Lionsgate Santa Monica, CA | Kevin Hart: Don’t F*** This Up; Chasing the Cure

Magical Elves (a Tinopolis Group company) Los Angeles | Top Chef; Nailed It!

Magilla Entertainment New York, NY | Long Island Medium; Dirty Mudder Truckers

Main Event Media (an All3Media America company) Los Angeles | United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell; Inside Jokes

Matador Content (a Boat Rocker Media company) New York, NY | Lip Sync Battle; Going From Broke

These industry leaders will be at BANFF. Will you? SUMMIT SERIES KEYNOTE:

TED SARANDOS Chief Content Officer Netflix








Executive Director BBC America

Senior Director, Programming and Development PBS

Senior Programme Acquisitions Executive ITV

SVP Original Content CBS All Access

Producer/Acquisitions TRVL

Content Team, Alternative Programming Quibi

250+ Buyers. 25,000 Meetings. JUNE 14-17, 2020 Deals get done. b a n f f m e d i a f e s t i v a l . c o m FA I R M O N T B A N F F S P R I N G S H O T E L




(A Red Arrow Studios company) Santa Monica, CA | Number of employees: 250 Number of hours in 2019: approximately 200 Recent projects: Married at First Sight, Little Women: Atlanta, Little Women: LA (Lifetime); Love is Blind (Netflix); Spy Games (Bravo); Friends Speak (Reelz); Man vs. Bear (Discovery) Upcoming projects: “Can’t divulge right now but we have buzz-worthy projects set up at multiple networks.” You know that your series is firmly etched in the annals of pop culture when it’s spoofed on Saturday Night Live. In the case of Love is Blind, the latest “romantic experiment” to hail from Kinetic Content, the SNL treatment is just one sign of the show’s entry into the zeitgeist. The Netflix series (pictured), which placed participants in “pods” separated by walls and therefore not able to communicate face to face on their “dates,” examined whether, at a time when we all cultivate and share our filtered images of ourselves to the world, people could forge intense connections without seeing each other. Fueled by a devoted, social media savvy audience that delighted (and Tweeted) on every twist and turn, the series emerged as Netflix’s top show when the streamer began releasing its “Top 10.” Consider that Kinetic Content is the prodco that brought the Danish format, Married at First Sight, to the U.S. via FYI and Lifetime, and you see that the company has a flair for loud, buzzy relationship formats. But Kinetic, headed by former RDF USA chief and unscripted agent Chris Coelen, also has a hit franchise in Lifetime’s Little Women and has other noisy projects underway for Bravo (Spy Games) and Discovery (Man vs. Bear). Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Kinetic Content is also aiming to expand into scripted, in conjunction with parent company Red Arrow Studios. BW



(an All3Media company) New York, NY | Number of hours produced in 2019: More than 100 Number of employees: 12 staff, approximately 170 freelance Recent projects: Cash Cab (Bravo); Lies that Bind, Hometown Homicide, Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall, Diabolical (ID) Upcoming projects: Multiple unannounced ID projects; Just One Man (Smithsonian); Cash at Your Door (Bravo); Hometown Homicide Season 2, Diabolical Season 3 (ID) Headed by Tony Tackaberry, the All3Media-backed company and American outpost for UK-headquartered Lion TV has spent more than a decade establishing itself as a well-respected tour de force in the cluttered North American television landscape by producing more than 500 hours of content. In this time, Lion USA has garnered substantial praise and greenlights from networks across the television spectrum, with partners including MTV (Money From Strangers), PBS (America Revealed), Travel Channel (Follow Your Past), Cooking Channel (Restaurant Redemption), National Geographic (World’s Deadliest), and Investigation Discovery (Diabolical, Hometown Homicide), among others. “2019 marked the fifth successive year of growth for Lion Television USA during which we cemented our position as one of the top true crime producers in the U.S.,” Tackaberry tells Realscreen. As such, Investigation Discovery continued to serve as a preferred broadcasting partner for Lion USA in the past year, with the successful launch of The Lies That Bind, which delved into complex murder investigations. Additional evidence of the studio’s reputation as a true crime mainstay can be found via the forthcoming season three premiere of Diabolical and season two of Hometown Homicide, both for Investigation Discovery, as well as the optioning of author Edward Humes’ Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime that Wasn’t. The television adaptation will recount a fatal April 1989 apartment fire in which Jo Ann Parks was convicted of murdering her three young children and the California Innocence Project’s attempts to overturn Parks’s conviction. The New York production outfit also ended the decade with the highly successful relaunch of Emmy Award-winning trivia game show Cash Cab, which was revived by NBCUniversal’s Bravo after years on Discovery and sees long-time host and comedian Ben Bailey back behind the wheel for an updated spin on the format. 2019 also saw the prodco bring on board former Part2 Pictures executive and This Is Life with Lisa Ling producer Rebecca Bregman as executive-in-charge. Bregman, who previously produced three seasons of Cash Cab in 2009 and 2010, is tasked with building out and managing Lion-affiliated production teams and the company’s overall production needs. DA



Los Angeles, CA | Recent projects: The Masked Singer (Fox); Cash Pad (CNBC); Minute to Win It (NBC); Chef Wanted with Ann Burrell (Food Network) Upcoming projects: The Masked Dancer; I Can See Your Voice (Fox) Craig Plestis, CEO of Smart Dog Media, has a long pedigree in unscripted, having worked his way up to EVP of NBC’s reality division by overseeing such hits as The Apprentice, America’s Got Talent and The Biggest Loser, among others. After leaving NBC, Plestis established Smart Dog Media and went on to exec produce such series as the popular, Guy Fieri-fronted game show Minute to Win It and The Winner Is with Nick Lachey for the Peacock, among other projects. In October of 2018, Plestis and Smart Dog Media entered into a first look deal with Endemol Shine North America, which saw them team up on what became the biggest unscripted hit in the U.S. since The Voice. Having stumbled upon the Thai adaptation of the Korean format, The King of Mask Singer, while eating at a Thai restaurant, Plestis grabbed the rights for the U.S. and took it to Fox’s Rob Wade, who thought the concept — celebrity judges guessing the identity of a “masked singer” decked out in an outlandish costume — was loud enough to work for America. He guessed correctly, and the first season of the series proved to be a pop culture phenomenon and ratings smash, racking up a 3.0 for adults 18-49, and the second and third seasons performing strongly. While Fox took production of the U.S. version of The Masked Singer in-house to its nascent alternative studio, Plestis remains as an EP. He and Smart Dog Media are continuing to draw inspiration from the formats hotbed that is South Korea, with an American adaptation of CJ ENM’s I Can See Your Voice coming to Fox, and Plestis also on board as an executive producer for the upcoming Masked Dancer spin-off from Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television. BW

Beverly Hills, CA | The Voice (U.S.); Shark Tank; Survivor

Optomen U.S. (an All3Media company) New York, NY | Buddy v Duff; Worst Cooks in America Original Productions (a FremantleMedia company) Burbank | Deadliest Catch; Bering Sea Gold


New York, NY | Number of hours produced in 2019: 51 Number of employees: 75-90 Recent projects: Torn Apart (HBO); The Lake Erie Murders, Heart of Darkness (Investigation Discovery); Hometown Horror, Lost Secrets (Travel) Founded in 2016 by former History VP and EP Julian Hobbs and former MTV current programming EVP Elli Hakami, New York City-headquartered Talos has built a reputation for factual with a cinematic flair. In 2019, the company grew its production slate in a big way, adding commissions from streamers to its mix of content for cable partners. Having quadrupled its output hours and revenue over the previous year, Talos is now working across a formidable range of genres — from food competition to investigative documentary, and from paranormal to true crime. Highlights for the past year included the seven-part Lake Erie Murders for Investigation Discovery, which premiered with a three-hour special; and paranormal entries for Travel that included Hometown Horror, Lost Secrets, and a docudrama coproduced with Blue Ant Media/Saloon Media, Salem Witch Trials. Talos also brought Torn Apart, a critically acclaimed documentary on the Mexican border crisis helmed by Ellen Goosenberg, to HBO. On the way for the year ahead: a food competition series for HBO Max, a Disney+ commission coproduced with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’ Milojo Productions and an “ambitious” survival series for Discovery. BW

Pilgrim Media Group (a Lionsgate company) North Hollywood, CA | The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story; Street Outlaws

Ping Pong Productions Glendale, CA | Expedition Unknown; Dr. Pimple Popper

Prometheus Entertainment Los Angeles, CA | Curse of Oak Island; The UnXPlained with William Shatner

Propagate Content Los Angeles, CA | Up and Vanished; In Search Of

Renegade83 (an eOne company) Sherman Oaks, CA | Naked and Afraid XL; My Feet are Killing Me Revelations Entertainment Los Angeles, CA | The Story of God with Morgan Freeman

Sharp Entertainment (an Industrial Media company) New York, NY | 90 Day Fiancé; Love After Lockup

Thinkfactory Media (an ITV America company) Los Angeles | Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition; Mama June: From Not to Hot

Tremendous! Entertainment Eden Prairie, MN | Naturally, Danny Seo; Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests

Truly Original Productions (an Endemol Shine North America company) New York, NY | Deal or No Deal; Real Housewives of Atlanta

Warner Horizon Television Burbank, CA | The Bachelor (with Next Entertainment); The Voice (with MGM TV)

World of Wonder Productions Los Angeles, CA | RuPaul’s Drag Race; Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles

Zero Point Zero New York, NY | Broken; My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman; Pandemic







London | Number of employees: 240 Number of hours produced in 2019: 112 Recent projects: Body Cam, Green River Killer: Mind of a Monster (ID); Apollo: The Forgotten Films (Discovery); Rookie Moonshot: Budget Mission to the Moon (National Geographic); Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed the Planet (Channel 4) Frequently featured in our Global 100, Arrow continued its forward motion in 2019, with a revamped business structure designed to play to various strengths. In late 2018, the company announced a rebrand of sorts, to Arrow International Media, and the formation of two separate labels operating under the parent — Arrow Media and Arrow Pictures. For the former, Arrow co-founder Tom Brisley heads up the division as creative director, with a focus on producing and developing returnable content across the factual spectrum, including series, singles and specials. The latter division, meanwhile, is headed up by Arrow co-founder John Smithson and focuses on “premium” projects ranging from feature docs to high-end series and serials. As for content, the company continued its run of well-rated, well-produced true crime with several projects for Investigation Discovery, including another installment in its ‘Mind of a Monster’ strand, focusing on Ted Bundy. The specials probe the inner workings of serial killers, and another edition, regarding “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway, aired this past February. Arrow Pictures, meanwhile, generated buzz and rave reviews with its Channel 4 special Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed the Planet (pictured), in which British author and Guardian columnist George Monbiot examines how current agricultural practices, including those designed for free range farming, are “trashing the living world.” BW


(A Tinopolis Group company) London | Number of employees: 15 full time staff Recent projects: Mums Make Porn (Channel 4); Emma Willis Delivering Babies (W Channel); Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over (W Channel); The Sex Clinic (E4); Save Well Spend Better (Channel 4); The Customer is Always Right (BBC1); Britain’s Loudest Snorers (Channel 5) From international hit Big Fat Gypsy Weddings to eyecatching titles such as Strippers, Dad’s Having a Baby and Born in the Wrong Body, Firecracker Films has made its name producing TV programs that, according to its motto, “go off with a bang.” The company, based in London and Glasgow, has taken its trademark style of programming worldwide since launching in 2002. Firecracker has worked with broadcasters in the UK and U.S. such as the BBC, Channel 4, W, ABC, Discovery, TLC and National Geographic. Its titles, comprising factual series and oneoff documentaries, have sold in more than 150 countries. In 2012, the company was purchased by UKheadquartered international producer-distributor Tinopolis Group, under which it continued to expand its lineup of unscripted titles. Recently, Firecracker partnered with Channel 5 for Britain’s Biggest Snorer and UKTV for Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over. But its noisiest entry for 2019 was Mums Make Porn, a three-part docuseries for Channel 4, which brought together several mothers of teens with the mission to make an “ethical” adult film that promotes healthy attitudes about sex and relationships. In Firecracker style, it generated headlines and audience numbers. “In an increasingly crowded UK and international marketplace we at Firecracker have always tried to make a noise and make shows that stand out from the crowd,” Jes Wilkins, chief creative officer, says. “The international success of shows like Mums Make Porn and The Sex Clinic, and the awards recognition of shows like Emma Willis Delivering Babies and The Customer is Always Right have made 2019 a memorable year.” JM, BW




London, Los Angeles | Number of hours produced in 2019: 35 Recent projects: Tell Me Who I Am, Diagnosis (Netflix); Untouchable (BBC, Hulu); Cajun Navy (Discovery); Storm Over Brooklyn (HBO) Upcoming projects: Tina Turner (feature doc, w/t); Supervillain (Showtime); Hip Hop Untold (FX); Torn (National Geographic) 2019 was a particularly strong year for Lightbox, headed up by cousins Jonathan and Simon Chinn, with a raft of critically-acclaimed, commercially successful feature docs, specials and series for cable and various platforms. The year opened with a premiere at Sundance for Untouchable, Ursula Macfarlane’s investigation of the rise and fall of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Following a strong appearance in Park City, the film was acquired by Hulu. Meanwhile, Tell Me Who I Am (pictured), a Netflix Original feature doc helmed by Ed Perkins, garnered rave reviews at its Telluride premiere and via the streaming service, for its depiction of two twins grappling with the revelation of a painful family secret. The company also scored an eight-episode run on Netflix for Diagnosis, an innovative docuseries produced with Scott Rudin Productions and the New York Times, which followed patients with mysterious illnesses as they endeavor to find a diagnosis, and possibly a cure, through various methods, ranging from medical expertise to crowdsourcing. On the way: a much anticipated feature doc on the life of R&B icon Tina Turner, and a feature for National Geographic Documentary Films, Torn, which follows National Geographic Explorer Max Lowe as he and his family uncover more about the life and death of his father, legendary mountaineer Alex Lowe. BW



Bristol | Recent projects: Our Planet, Dancing with the Birds (Netflix); Penguins (Disneynature) Upcoming projects: David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (Netflix); Dolphin Reef, Elephant (Disneynature); A Perfect Planet (BBC) The entry of global streaming powerhouse Netflix into landmark natural history commissioning was met with more than a few raised eyebrows on the production and network commissioning fronts. That Netflix was keen to enter the space was not surprising, given the success of various series such as Blue Planet II and Planet Earth on the platform. What did provoke chatter was the choice of prodco and presenter for Our Planet, the service’s first foray into blue chip natural history: Silverback Films, the production company established by former BBC NHU heads Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill (the latter being the creator of the original Planet Earth and Blue Planet series); and Sir David Attenborough, presenter for practically any and every landmark natural history series since the dawn of time. Controversy notwithstanding, the series — spanning 50 countries and four years in the making — was a typically breathtaking addition to Silverback’s roster, but beyond its sheer scope, it was also significant for its subject matter and tone. The eight-part series examined the world’s ecosystems through the lens of climate change and its impact, making for what The Atlantic called “a beautiful but uncomfortable” viewing experience. “2020 will be a critical year for the planet and Silverback Films will be leading the way in explaining the environmental challenges,” says Fothergill. “David Attenborough’s movie is a powerful polemic and A Perfect Planet, BBC1’s landmark series for the autumn, reveals how the forces of nature may be out of balance.” BW

72 Films London | Inside North Korea’s Dynasty; Moon Landing Live

Amos Pictures London | Leaving Neverland

Blink Films London | The Search; Mystic Britain

CPL Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company) London | A League of Their Own; The Restaurant that Makes Mistakes The Garden (an ITV Company) London | 24 Hours in Police Custody; Operation: Live

Icon Films Bristol | Savage Kingdom: Jeremy Wade’s Dark Waters


(an All3Media company) London | Number of hours produced in 2019: 172 Number of employees: 43 permanent staff and 1,228 freelancers contracted in 2019. Recent projects: The Circle (C4/Netflix); Naked Attraction, Four in a Bed, Buy It Now, Gogglebox, Gogglesprogs, Celebrity Gogglebox (C4); Undercover Boss (CBS); Race Across the World, Top of the Shop with Tom Kerridge (BBC2); Nightmare Pets SOS (BBC1) Upcoming projects: Celebrity Race Across the World (BBC1); Race Across the World Season 3 (BBC2); The Hustler (ABC) London-, Manchester- and Los-Angeles-based Studio Lambert was launched in 2008 by former RDF Media exec Stephen Lambert, the creator of formats such as Wife Swap, Secret Millionaire and Faking It, with backing from global producerdistributor All3Media. Studio Lambert was fully acquired by All3Media in 2012 when the group launched its U.S. arm, All3Media America. While established unscripted staples such as global hit Undercover Boss and UK franchise Gogglebox are still going strong, with its roster of newer, non-scripted titles such as The Circle (C4/Netflix) and Race Across the World (BBC), the prodco has picked up numerous awards and nominations in recent years at BAFTA, the National Television Awards, the Edinburgh TV Festival Awards and the Realscreen Awards, to name a few. Most recently, in February, Studio Lambert won the award for best independent production company at the 2020 Broadcast Awards in London. The Circle (pictured) has drawn raves for its marriage of social media and the social experiment genre, as participants, housed in separate apartments and unable to meet each other in the flesh, communicate with each other through a voice-activated social media platform dubbed The Circle, and attempt to create the most interesting profiles and gain “influencer” status. Following a successful season on Channel 4, Netflix swooped in and grabbed global rights, excluding the UK, for the format, with the U.S. version premiering this past January. With its roots stretching back to 1955, when Lambert’s father, Roger, launched the UK advertising production shingle of the same name, Studio Lambert has been firing on all cylinders for more than a decade. In 2015, the prodco expanded its remit, launching a scripted division to produce drama series with British and American writers, directors and on-screen talent. JM, BW

ITN Productions London | For Sama; easyjet: Inside the Cockpit

Lion Television (an All3Media company) London | 21 Kids and Counting; Secret World of the Holiday Resort Love Productions (a Sky company) London | The Great British Bake Off; Junior Bake Off Nutopia London | World According to Jeff Goldblum; One Strange Rock

October Films London | This is Football; Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out

Plimsoll Productions Bristol | Hostile Planet; A Night on Earth

Raw TV (an All3Media company) London | Gold Rush; Don’t F*** With Cats RDF Television (a Banijay company) London | Shipwrecked; The Making of Me

Shine TV (an Endemol Shine company) London | The Island with Bear Grylls; MasterChef; The Heist Tuesday’s Child London | Lego Masters; The Hit List

Twofour Broadcast (an ITV company) London | The Real Marigold Hotel; Beat the Chef Wall to Wall (a WBITVP company) London | Catching Britain’s Killers; Long Lost Family






Alfred Street Industries

Sydney, Australia; Los Angeles, CA | Number of employees: 115 employees and freelancers Number of hours produced in 2019: 90 Recent programs: Holey Moley (ABC); Dating Around (Netflix); Pick, Flip & Drive (Facebook); Crikey! It’s the Irwins (Animal Planet); Deadly Cults (Oxygen); The Launch (CTV); The Real Dirty Dancing (Seven Australia); The Amazing Race - Australia (Ten); The Chefs’ Line (SBS); Thrones 360 (Foxtel); Drunk History - Australia (Ten). There are bicoastal production companies, and then there are… “bicontinental” production companies. The list of the latter is significantly smaller than that of the former, but Eureka definitely fits the bill. Founded by Endemol Shine Group colleagues Chris Culvenor and Paul Franklin in 2016, the company has its

Los Angeles, CA Brain Games, Project Runway

Authentic Entertainment (an Endemol Shine North America company) North Hollywood, CA | Trading Spaces; The Best Thing I Ever Ate

BBC Studios London | Fatberg Autopsy; Chocolate Dreams: Inside Hotel Chocolat; Autumnwatch: New England

Big Coat Media Toronto | Love It or List It

Blast! Films London, UK | Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain; The Secret Life of the Zoo

Content Group/Asylum Entertainment Encino, CA | Eli Roth’s History of Horror; In Ice Cold Blood



primary offices in Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles. While that may make for a heck of a commute, it also facilitates a business model that allows for Eureka to create and develop formats in one territory and exploit them in others; and wellentrenched partnerships with some of the world’s biggest broadcasters. Eureka has racked up successes on streaming services, with its Netflix relationship series Dating Around garnering praise for its inclusive approach to the genre; on broadcast, with the endearingly wacky miniature golf format Holey Moley up for a second season on U.S. broadcast net ABC; and on cable, with Animal Planet chomping at the bit for a second season of Crikey! It’s the Irwins. Coming for 2020: a florist competition series for HBO Max (Full Bloom), and the Australian adaptation of Holey Moley, which will feature Aussie golf legend Greg Norman as “resident golf pro.” BW

Firelight Media New York, NY | Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool

Gebrueder-Beetz Filmproduktion Berlin, Germany | The Forum; Gaza

Half Yard Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company) Bethesda, MD | The Last Alaskans; Say Yes to the Dress

Label1 London | Hospital; The Family Brain Games

Lucky 8 New York, NY | 60 Days In

Monkey (an NBCUniversal International Studios company) London | Don’t Hate the Playaz; Made in Chelsea

Omnifilm Entertainment Vancouver | Jade Fever; Dinosaur Cold Case

Part2 Pictures Brooklyn, NY | Breaking Hate; This is Life with Lisa Ling

Beach House Pictures (a Blue Ant Media company) Singapore Record Rides; Ed Stafford: First Man Out

CJZ Chippendale NSW | Marry Me, Marry My Family; The Great Australian Cookbook

Le cinquième rêve Paris | 700 Sharks; The Superpowers of the Bear

Off the Fence (a ZDF Enterprises company) Amsterdam | Wildest Survival; Into the Wild

Pernel Media Paris | Wheeler Dealers; The Real War of Thrones

Terra Mater Factual Studios (a Red Bull Media company) Vienna | Sea of Shadows

Zed Paris | Prehistoric Worlds; On the Trail of the Snow Leopard

Pie Town Productions North Hollywood, CA | Christina on the Coast; Flipping 101

Profiles Television El Segundo, CA | The Amazing Race

Scout Productions Los Angeles, CA | Queer Eye (with ITV Entertainment)

Sirens Media (an ITV America company) Los Angeles, CA | The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Spun Gold London | Meat the Family; Quizmaster

True Vision Films London | Behind Closed Doors: Through the Eyes of a Child

WAM Media Group Montreal, PQ | The Detectives

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M Theatrical docs rode a formidable wave of popularity in 2019. For the year ahead, Justin Lacob, head of development at premium non-fiction and documentary studio XTR, predicts an even bigger boom for the genre. Here’s why... by Justin Lacob



ark my words: 2020 will be a banner year for documentaries, proving that these last two years aren’t a fluke and that there is a booming business in the nonfiction theatrical marketplace. The trend began in 2018. It was a massive year for documentaries at the movie theater — films such as Free Solo set incredible per screen records, while Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, RBG and Three Identical Strangers blew away audiences and critics alike. 2019 continued the trend with big winners including Apollo 11, Biggest Little Farm, and Amazing Grace. In the last two years, 26 documentary features made over US$1 million at the box office. It’s a different — and much less rosy — story for fiction arthouse films. As the theatrical film market comes under threat from monopolization, conglomeration, streaming services and other forms of media, documentaries are somehow thriving like nothing else. Independent fiction films, on the other hand, are struggling to find the foothold they once had at the movie theater, often skipping a physical release and going straight from Sundance to the streaming service. This year’s Park City fest wrapped up with multiple documentaries being purchased for record breaking, eightfigure deals, most involving theatricalstreaming partnerships rather than traditional releases. UTA sold Alan Ball’s family drama Uncle Frank to Amazon for $12 million and Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman and Eli Despres’s The Fight was sold to Magnolia for a rumored lowseven-figures. Apple and A24 also racked up the most expensive non-fiction deal to date at the festival, acquiring buzz doc Boys State for $12 million.

A few years ago, distributors such as Amazon Studios, Fox Searchlight, and Sony Pictures Classics were able to spend big bucks at Sundance on movies such as The Big Sick and have the risk pay off. But the tide seems to be changing quickly. Last year, Amazon spent $13 million at Sundance acquiring Late Night, co-written and starring Mindy Kaling alongside Emma Thompson. An intelligent, wellreviewed comedy, by most accounts it should have been a hit, but it only grossed $22 million and was quickly ushered off to Prime Video. Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, suffered a similar fate — a welcoming, progressive coming-of-age comedy with Lady Bird co-star Beanie Feldstein, it only grossed around $24 million despite glowing reviews. Another major Sundance acquisition was New Line Cinema’s Blinded by the Light, a notquite-musical based on the songs of Bruce Springsteen. It was purchased for $15 million and only grossed $17 million. As independent and “arthouse” films struggle to find an audience, naturally, the theaters that show them are facing hard times like never before. The Laemmle theatre chain put itself up for sale after box office revenue dropped 30% in the first half of 2019. Laemmle couldn’t find a buyer despite courting larger companies such as Regency and Landmark — which was itself purchased by Cohen Media in 2018 — and has since given up on an attempted acquisition. Netflix purchased New York’s legendary single-screen Paris Theater, re-opening the landmark with an exclusive run of Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story after the cinema closed its doors earlier in the year. The streaming giant is also in negotiations to purchase Hollywood’s iconic Egyptian Theatre.

The Fight was one of the docs snapped up at Sundance this past January.

Another big Sundance deal saw Apple and A24 pick up Boys State for a reported $12 million.

Other beloved theaters in New York City, including the Lincoln Plaza and the Sunshine Cinema, have closed their doors in recent years. It’s clear that the future of arthouse films is murky. But while documentaries have not historically fared as well as fiction at the theater, the form is now succeeding like never but now it’s everywhere — the first podcast you listen to on the way before. The highest-grossing documentary released in 2019 to work in the morning and the last true crime series you watch on was Apollo 11, pulling in almost $12 million (if not an Oscar Netflix at night. Audiences fell for documentaries in the privacy of nomination). By comparison, the most successful limited their homes, and now they’re ready to go public with that love. If you release independent fiction film released in 2019 was the like to watch documentaries at home with your partner, then why Judy Garland biopic Judy, distributed by LD Entertainment not go on a date to a documentary at the theater? When we give in the United States, which grossed over $23 million. You audiences greater options, they often surprise us. would think that means fiction films Conversely, now that audiences can are more successful, but a longer see fiction films on the couch, it’s a lot list of the year’s highest-grossing harder to get them to leave the house. documentaries and independent But audiences are proving that they’re films tells a very different story. willing to show up for documentaries in Let’s break down some more the home and out — the documentary It wasn’t just in-depth data. Twenty-two revolution goes both ways. It goes back a handful of documentaries grossed over to the experience factor. We’ve seen documentary fi lms $600,000 in 2019; on the fiction the same fiction stories time and again; side, only 15 films have reached we know the archetypes and tropes. that did well last year. that mark. There may be multiple Genres are as familiar as old friends. On There was a bounty of fiction films that grossed more than the other hand, documentaries are still well-made offerings Apollo 11, but where documentaries finding new ways to give us the thrills, thrive is in the low million-dollar chills, twists, and turns that fiction films that audiences turned box office range. Thirteen of those used to give us. To compensate, some out for.” strong performing documentaries fiction films are becoming more like grossed between $600,000 and documentaries: there’s a whole wave $2 million. On the other hand, only of recent “docubusters” based off real one narrative independent film out of the 15 made between historical events, including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, $600k and $2 million: Amazon’s Honey Boy, a narrative Ford V Ferrari and Hustlers. But there’s nothing like the film helmed by Alma Har’el (who previously directed the real thing, and that’s why moviegoers are turning out for “hybrid” docs Bombay Beach and LoveTrue). documentaries like they never have before. The primary difference between fiction and documentary Audiences are shaped by the times they live in. We live in an in 2019 was that it wasn’t just a handful of documentary era when people are searching for truth unlike ever before. That’s films that did well. There was a bounty of well-made a need fiction can’t fulfill in the way documentaries can, giving offerings that audiences turned out for. So what’s changed? them a crucial edge in a competitive theatrical market. Viewers Thanks to streaming services, interest in documentary content and consumers are letting us know they want the answers that is at an all-time high. Non-fiction used to be special interest, only non-fiction media con provide, and we should be listening. 043

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