Lilla Hurst’s view on Distributor-led commissioning in “TBI Weekly: The Future is Factual – The Top Unscripted Trends of 2018”
Weeks after unveiling its long-gestating, multi-million-dollar collaboration with David Attenborough, Netflix made another strong statement in the factual space at this week’s World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) where new recruit Sara Edelson – Los Angeles-based manager for original docs – eschewed the SVOD’s low profile strategy at markets, and met delegates out in the open across the full four days of the Brisbane event.
TBI understands the former Vulcan Productions development exec has been transparent about high-performing natural history on the platform, and is intent on sourcing more projects, alongside premium science and history shows. Crucially, the platform is believed to be increasingly open to international co-productions for high-end factual.
Edelson’s conspicuous presence is an encouraging sign of growing demand for factual content across the SVOD space – further demonstrated by overtures from China’s Tencent, Youku and Bilibili, all of whom courted producers, broadcasters and distributors in Oz. Similarly, broadcasters such as Nat Geo, PBS and NHK were also prominent across World Congress, leveraging the power of live broadcasts and back-end rights.
Tech-led storytelling: 20K is here
NHK natural history commissioner Tetsunori Kekuchi wowed audiences with 8K footage – that’s 20x more information than regular 2K (HD) – from recent productions. One clip showed a diver swimming in a mix of fresh and saltwater, with each body of water clearly distinguished in ultra-high resolution. You had to see it to believe it – though when most viewers will be able to do that remains unclear. Even at WCSFP, the footage was shown on a 2K monitor, representing the almost comical gap between mainstream hardware and pioneering audiovisual tech. Kekuchi bashfully admitted he only had a 2K television at home.
NHK’s science team is also experimenting with 20K, and while Kekuchi isn’t personally involved in those efforts, the exec made a strong case for the scientific value of seeing microscopic details that can provide crucial information about some organisms.
Other cutting-edge tech included Arte France’s 700 Sharksin which a customized ring of 4K GoPro Black cameras captures a shark feed in French Polynesia, and Channel 5’s Nocturnal Britainfrom Pioneer Productions, which uses new low-light camera technology.
Distributor-led commissioning in robust health
Lilla Hurst, co-founder of co-production broker and distributor Drive, spoke at length about the benefits of distributor-led commissioning, an area in which the business has had a fair amount of success.
Crucially, Hurst noted that the types of commissions to come out of these models are generally low-budget far made for around $100K/hour. “The reason these sorts of series are working for the buyers is because a lot of them have spent a lot of money on premium projects that don’t take a lot of space in their schedules, and they’ve realized they have huge gaps in their schedules and need shows to plug them in.”
Hurst said what distributors such as Drive want to do is give prodcos a “flow of commissions” while they’re working on bigger, tougher commissions.
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Written by Manori Ravindran 01.12.2018. Published by www.tbivision.com.