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Archive for November, 2012

Documentaries at IDFA 2012: A Health Warning

For me, IDFA 2012 was the opportunity to watch wall-to-wall documentaries but it turned out to be neither as blissful nor as uplifting as I’d hoped or anticipated. After watching documentaries of varying genres, narrative style and visual effects it was hard not to come away with the feeling that the world is a bad place. A very bad place indeed. (Photo: Charles Bradley: Soul of America courtesy of IDFA)

Development Lessons From Some of the Best Films at IDFA 2012

Following on from an earlier post in which I revealed some of the most common concerns and comments given by commissioning editors during documentary pitches, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of my favourite films from IDFA 2012 to see what makes them work.

But first to recap: buyers like to see the following in a pitch:

Unique access to a person or place
A narrative, preferably unfolding
New light shed on a familiar subject
Passion and/or expertise in a subject on the part of the filmmaker
Unique approach
Topical hook or timeless story
Universal themes that audiences around the world can identify with
(Photo: Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers courtesy of IDFA)

Greenlit: The Takeover, RTE

The Takeover (6 x 60′) – Real people take the fight for their jobs into their own hands in the most radical business makeover format ever.  A struggling company is turned upside down when the boss stands aside for two weeks and the workers takeover the workplace. But what happens when the bakers, encounter the […]

Greenlit: Six in the City, RTÉ2

Six in the City (6 x 60′) – Three socially incompatible couples compete to show each other the ultimate night out to win their dream ‘Big Night Out’ abroad . It all adds up to a reality TV comedy of manners as the couples terrorise each other with their hilariously mismatched social agendas.  As nights […]

Greenlit: Cirque Berzerk, Sky Arts / CCTV / Česká Televize

Cirque Berzerk (1 x 120′) – A documentary about a circus based in Los Angeles. Channel: Sky Arts / CCTV (China) / Česká Televize TX: TBC Source: C21

Greenlit: Teen Trouble, Lifetime

Teen Trouble (8 x 60′) –  Teen behavior specialist, author and motivational speaker Josh Shipp serves as the last hope for troubled families desperate to save their out-of-control teens and gives them the critical help they need to avoid tragedy. He will embed himself into the hidden lives of at-risk teens on dangerous, self-destructive paths […]

Need to Pitch Your Project? Here’s How (Not) to Do it at a Documentary Festival.

At Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2012 Barbara Truyen, Commissioning Editor, VPRO in The Netherlands gave delegates some tips on how best to network and soft pitch your project at the festival without being a nuisance [click through to read her tips]. She also said that she was looking for films that “make me cry with joy” and cited Searching for Sugar Man by Malik Bendjelloul as a good example. The film went on to win The BankGiro Loterij IDFA Audience Award at IDFA 2012. (Photo: Searching for Sugar Man courtesy of IDFA)

Greenlit: Chained to My Ex, MSNBC

Chained to My Ex –  Highlighting a growing trend, this series follows men and women who find themselves miserable but stuck for many reasons including emotional ties, children and financial limitations. Being married and living together can be tough. Being divorced and still living together… pure hell. The first episode follows ex-couple CeCe and Christian […]

Greenlit: Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual, WE tv

Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual (12 x 30′) – A docu-soap showcasing the over-the-top life of Grammy winning music icon Cyndi Lauper. The series takes viewers on an all-access journey into the personal and professional life of one of pop culture’s most beloved and influential icons as she juggles her roles as rock star, mother, […]

Greenlit: The Trouble With Aid, BBC4

The Trouble With Aid (1 x 120′) – A documentary that features exclusive interviews with former aid workers as they look back at their experiences providing disaster relief at some of the major humanitarian disasters over the past 50 years. From the Biafran War to the Ethiopian famine and the relationship between aid and politics […]

Greenlit: World War II From Space, History

World War II From Space (1 x 120′) –  Documentary special that uses VFX and expert interviews to tell America’s story of the Second World War as seen from above. Channel: History Producer: October Films TX: 7th December 2012 Source: Hollywood Reporter

In: Adam Hawkins, Head of Development, Raw TV

Adam Hawkins has been appointed as head of U.S. development at Raw TV. Read more: Realscreen

Greenlit: Nightmare Christmas, Investigation Discovery

Nightmare Christmas (1 x 60′) – Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. A time of giving. A time of good cheer. But there’s something strange in the eggnog this holiday season. A naughty husband pays the price for opening his gifts five days early. Then, a Christmas Day caper sends a congregation […]

In: Karen Willis, Head of Development, Zig Zag

Karen Willis has been appointed as head of development at Zig Zag in London. Source: Televisual

Greenlit: Golden Sisters, OWN

Golden Sisters (2 x 30′) – A real life comedy following the hilarious adventures of Mary, Josie & Teresa Bartnicki, three sisters who shot to fame after a web video of the ladies watching a celebrity sex tape went viral. With Mary in her eighties and her twin sisters not far behind, these three raucous […]

Greenlit: Pearl Harbor Declassified, Military Channel

Pearl Harbor Declassified (1 x 60′) – The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, have often been called this generation’s Pearl Harbor. But unlike the attacks on the Twin Towers 60 years later, it is shocking what little film documentation there is surrounding the surprise Japanese attack on that infamous December day in 1941. On […]

Greenlit: Final Cut, Investigation Discovery

Final Cut (6 x ) – Los Angeles is the land of fame and fortune, but this new series proves that it isn’t all glitz and glam in these sought-after Hollywood hills. Following devastating stories of big dreams turned horrific nightmares, each episode looks at shocking stories featuring the last act of an aspiring star’s […]

Greenlit: Amish Mafia, Discovery Channel

Amish Mafia – Untrusting of outside law enforcement, some Amish in Lancaster County, PA have for many years regularly turned to a small organized group of men for protection and justice.  The 2006 School shootings in Lancaster County during which five young Amish girls were killed and five more seriously injured by a non-Amish milk truck driver […]

Greenlit: Brother vs. Brother, HGTV

Brother vs. Brother (6  x 60′) –  Twin brothers Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott host a home renovation competition series that pits Jonathan, a licensed contractor, and Drew, a real estate agent, against each other as they each mentor a team of six talented home improvement experts vying for a grand prize of $50,000. In […]

Greenlit: Deadliest Space Weather, The Weather Channel

Deadliest Space Weather w/t  (6 x 30′) – A new series that reveals extreme weather conditions that occur throughout our solar system, and explores the premise “What would happen if these harsh conditions could ever prevail on Earth?” Rainstorms that can eat through solid steel, hurricane winds that blow at 1,600 miles per hour, and […]

Greenlit: Built, Style

Built (10 x ) – With a unique approach to stylish living, this new docu-series  follows a Manhattan home design and construction service staffed exclusively with male models who are also experienced handymen. On each new episode, the five-man crew tackle a home makeover project by helping their clients with remodeling challenges. A prominent interior […]

Greenlit: Daydream, 3net

Daydream – Spanning both popular and exotic geographic locations, this series delivers stunning visual 3D imagery, offering viewers an immersive look at the earth and mankind’s most spectacular creations.  Each episode takes viewers on a 3D “travel adventure” to a unique and iconic destination, offering a visual escape as the day passes in each location. […]

Greenlit: Wingsuit Warrior: Jeb Corliss Vs. The World, 3net

Wingsuit Warrior: Jeb Corliss Vs. The World (1 x 60′) – Renowned BASE jumper and wingsuit pioneer Jeb Corliss crashed while wingsuit flying in Capetown, South Africa. The debilitating crash in early 2012 caused Jeb to break his leg, both ankles and opened a deep, gaping hole in his shin. This 3D special follows Jeb […]

Greenlit: Frozen in Time: Our History in 3D, 3net

Frozen in Time: Our History in 3D (3 x 60′) –  This 3D series takes an immersive look at history’s most monumental milestones – from World War II to the Industrial Revolution and the migration to the American West.  The series makes unique use of historic and captivating original 3D photographs – fully restored and […]

Greenlit: Space, 3net

Space (3 x 60′) – From the Big Bang to the present and forward into the future, Space gives a vision of the birth, evolution and end of the phenomena that make up the universe as never seen before. Billed as the world’s first native 4K project for television, the series employs lyrical and deeply […]

Greenlit: Tattoo Rescue, Spike TV

Tattoo Rescue (10 x 30′) –  The show follows renowned tattoo expert Joey Germinario (aka “Joey Tattoo”) and his team of experts as they travel the country transforming failing tattoo studios into profitable ventures. At one time, they were the symbol of the culture’s dark underbelly, but now tattoos have gone mainstream with an industry […]

Greenlit: NFL Road Tested: The Cleveland Browns, Travel Channel

NFL Road Tested: The Cleveland Browns – NFL road trips are unique and the new series will provide an inside look at what it takes to move an entire team from city to city, including feeding, clothing and housing six tons of humanity. It will also look at how NFL stadiums prepare to deal with […]

Greenlit: Botched Up Bodies, Channel 5

Botched Up Bodies (2 x 60′) – This documentary miniseries gains exclusive behind the scenes access to the renowned plastics unit at The Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.  We meet the people whose bodies have been botched up and we’ll follow the hero surgeons whose job it is to fix the problems and finally give these […]

Greenlit: Rod and Rucksack, Discovery Networks

Rod and Rucksack (5 x 60′) –  Fisherman Guy Elson travels the world to find the best game fishing experiences – from Mongolia to British Columbia via Panama and Australia  (picked up by Discovery after the production of a self-funded pilot episode Rod and Rucksack Costa Rica). Channel: Discovery Networks Producer: Gass Productions / Cinesite […]

Greenlit: How Money Works, Yahoo!

How Money Works (20 x ) – Animated original web series that looks at the world of finance, both personal and global. Channel: Yahoo! Producer: 360 Productions / Group M Entertainment TX: TBC Source: Broadcast

Greenlit: Superfoods, Yahoo!

Superfoods (20 x ) – Original web series in which Chef Ricky Andalcio looks at the science of nutrition. Channel: Yahoo! Producer: Bearkatt / Group M Entertainment TX: TBC Source: Broadcast

Greenlit: The Greatest Stage on Earth, BBC4

The Greatest Stage on Earth (3 x 60′) – Dr Michael Scott explores the roots of theatre in classical civilization in Rome and Greece. Channel: BBC4 Producer: Tern TV TX: 2013 Source: Broadcast

Greenlit: The World’s Biggest Pets, Channel 5

The World’s Most Biggest Pets (1 x 60′) –  This documentary takes a look at the most super-sized of pets from all around the world. In this curious and enchanting one off we’ll meet the world’s biggest animals romping through the homes and neighbourhoods near you. We’ve seen cute and fluffy but now it’s time […]

Greenlit: The World’s Most Pampered Pets, Channel 5

The World’s Most Pampered Pets (1 x 60′) –  This documentary dives into the weird and wonderful world of these unusual owners to find out just why they decide to spend so much money on their beloved pets.  We meet the world’s richest pets, including the dog that bought Madonna’s house and a chimpanzee called […]

Greenlit: Life Story Project, OWN (Canada)

Life Story Project (10 x 30′) –  A new series that explores the human condition through the real-life experiences of ordinary Canadians plucked off the street. The series shows that everyone has a story to tell – sometimes, all it takes is the right question. Hosts Andrea Syrtash and Dale Curd show how we are […]

Greenlit: Valentine Warner’s Scandinavian Cookbook, UKTV Good Food

Valentine Warner’s Scandinavian Cookbook w/t (10 x 30′) – This series will showcase seasonal variations in the Scandinavian region, examining its increasing popularity in contemporary cookery. Each episode will be set in a different location and will see Valentine cook with the local delicacies and ingredients, as he attempts traditional Scandinavian recipes, alongside more experimental […]

What the Commissioning Editors Said at IDFA 2012 – Plus ça change

IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) is, besides being a great place to watch a wide range of documentaries, one of the key places where filmmakers can pitch their films to buyers from around the world.

There are a number of ways to do this, via one-on-one meetings (whether privately arranged, brokered via the festival team or the unexpected encounter where you are asked about your project on the fly – as I write this in the festival cafe someone is pitching to HBO Europe on the next table), via The Forum (where you pitch in front of a large industry audience), or in the more intimate round table format. Each situation presents its own pitching challenges but the commissioning editors’ responses more often than not remain broadly similar.

Forewarned is forarmed, so if you know what issues preoccupy the buyers you can preempt them and make sure that you develop your project in a way that will give it the best chance of survival in the sometimes brutal gladiatoral arena of the pitch forum.

Greenlit: Marathon, Channel 2 (Israel)

Marathon – Format in which five ordinary people have eight months in which to train for a marathon race. Channel: Channel 2 (Israel) Producer: Kupreman Productions TX: 2013 Source: TBI Vision

Greenlit: The Big Brain Theory, Discovery Channel

The Big Brain Theory – Actor, producer, and civil servant Kal Penn hosts this competition series that features a seemingly impossible engineering challenge to be solved by the contestants each week. There are countless television shows in search of the next breakout singer, dancer, chef, fashion designer and business executive. However, there is nothing quite […]

Greenlit: The Body Shocking Show, E4

The Body Shocking Show (8 x 30′) – This series marvels at the outrageous and extraordinary people who have done bizarre things with their bodies. Hosts Jessica-Jane Clement (The Real Hustle) and Pete Firman (The Magicians) will be joined by Hollywood’s Verne Troyer, Dead or Alive legend Pete Burns, and Jackie Stallone. From unthinkably outrageous bodies […]

Greenlit: Bedtime Live, Channel 4

Bedtime Live (6 x 60′) –  For parents across the nation, putting their kids to bed is one of the most stressful times of the day but help is at hand; this innovative interactive format will share the best practise for parents across the nation. It’s not just about toddlers. A recent poll of one […]

Greenlit: Motor Morphers, Channel 5

Motor Morphers (4 x 60′) – Two teams of engineers transform perfectly formed utility vehicles into something capable of doing a completely different job The Gadget Show’s Jason Bradbury sets the two teams a task of how their ‘morphed’ vehicles will be put to the test in a head-to-head challenge.  Both teams comprise engineers from […]

Greenlit: Julian Fellowes’s Historical Houses, ITV1

Julian Fellowes’s Historical Houses w/t (2 x 60′) –  The award-winning creator of Downton Abbey takes us on a journey through the extraordinary history, upstairs and downstairs, of his favourite great houses of England. He provides a fascinating insight into the detail behind these incredible houses and the people who lived and worked there. Fellowes […]

Greenlit: Brendan’s Love Boat, Channel 4

Brendan’s Love Boat –  Coach Trip’s Brendan Sheerin throws holidaymakers together on a cruise around the Mediterranean in a bid to help them find love. Channel: Channel 4 Daytime Producer: Optomen TX: 2013 Source: Channel 4 press release

Greenlit: The Sex Clinic, Channel 4

The Sex Clinic w/t (3 x 60′) –  An observational series exploring the relationships and personal lives of patients attending sex clinics in London and Birmingham. With the number of people visiting sex clinics almost doubling in the last five years, this series will unpick the sexual habits and relationships behind the increase. Chelsea and […]

Greenlit: Date Night, Channel 4

Date Night w/t (6 x 60′) –  A documentary series about first dates with an interactive twist – viewers will have the opportunity to date someone they’re watching, on the following week’s episode. Using a discreet fixed camera-rig within a restaurant/bar, the series films singletons who have arranged to meet via a range of internet […]

In Development: The Love Inspectors, Channel 4

The Love Inspectors (1 x pilot) – Gameshow in which three couples (two real, one fake) convince immigration officials that they are the real deal  for the chance to win £10,000. Channel: Channel 4 Producer: Twenty Twenty TX: TBC Source: Broadcast

Greenlit: The Snowman Documentary, Channel 4

The Snowman Documentary (w/t)- The Snowman is one of the most watched and most loved British animation films of all time, yet the talent behind The Snowman phenomenon is a unique and distinctive man who is largely unknown. Raymond Briggs began writing and illustrating children’s books more than forty years ago and in 1978, he […]

Greenlit: All You Need is Gok, Channel 4

All You Need is Gok – Each week Gok Wan takes a loveless lady under his wing for a total transformation including a radical makeover of her dating wardrobe.  Gok will be their personal stylist, flirting coach, wingman, agony uncle and matchmaker.  From never-been-kissed 30-somethings to divorcees who need to learn the new rules of […]

Greenlit: Bad Santas, Channel 4

Bad Santas (2 x 60′) – Everyone deserves a second chance to turn their life around, especially at Christmas. This two-parter follows a group of unemployed men in their 50’s as they are taken through their paces at the UK’s most successful Santa School – but only the best will make it into the grottos […]

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