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Ideas Generator

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Documentary Commissioners: Searching for Gems in the Schedule

Go to one of the major international documentary festivals and you’ll come away feeling that the genre is alive, kicking and having a party. ITV’s Jo Clinton-Davis said at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015 that the audience was searching for “gems in the schedule”, but of all the commissioner panels, the documentary session seemed to be the one where the commissioners had the most trouble articulating/least enthusiasm describing what it was that they wanted or needed in their schedules; they seemed to be suffering a strange collective ennui.

Arts Commissioners: Doing it, Not Just Talking About it.

In order to be successful when pitching to TV commissioners, it’s vital to know what they are looking for. This is harder than it sounds, despite many broadcasters now sharing their commissioning briefs online (via their commissioning portals), because they are often vague and sometimes out of date.

Another way to get a sense of what commissioners want is to attend a panel in which they outline their current needs. These panels are common at TV conferences and festivals around the world. Some commissioners are refreshingly candid, whilst other remain coy and seemingly reluctant to give away their secrets; others appear more interested in scoring political points against their co-panelists than helping the audience of producers understand what they should pitch. So they can be a mixed bag. And so it was with the Arts Commissioning panel at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2015.

How to Win a Commission for a Short Documentary on All 4

All 4 is the new umbrella name for all Channel 4’s platforms, including online, which is the home to the Channel 4 Shorts strand.

At a recent Sheffield Doc/Fest panel, the Head of All 4 and Digital Content, Richard Davidson-Houston, and Shorts Commissioning Editors Jody Smith and Issac Densu explained their remit to commission original digital content and how their audience differs from a mainstream terrestrial audience.

Ovation Digital Arts Launched

Ovation TV, has launched a unique multi-platform artist community that combines talented YouTube creators and the only television network in America dedicated to the arts. Ovation Digital Arts sets itself apart by carefully curating exceptional artists and helping them grow their brands and businesses through exposure on Ovation TV and highly personalized audience development support. […]

Three Ways to Develop Programme Ideas Using Twitter

When labouring at the coalface of a development slate, you need as many tools as you can get your hands on to excavate those elusive gems that are eye-catching enough to catch the eye of a commissioning editor. During a Sheffield Doc/Fest 2014 session Dan Biddle (@DanBiddle), Twitter UK’s Head of Broadcast Partnerships, explained how producers can mine Twitter for breaking news stories, research, audience collaboration and marketing.

As you might expect of a digital platform, Twitter is all about the metrics, and has a host of audience user data that reveals information about Twitter users’ lives. For example, mentions of shopping indicate that Sunday is the biggest day for heading to the shops in the UK and more people go for (or talk about going for) a run on a Monday and Tuesday than they do at the end of the week, when the pub beckons.

But how does this help us in development? (Photo (C) TVMole)

Greenlit: Man vs Fly, The Sun Online

Man vs Fly (15 x 3′) – Celebrity fly-swatting competition. Channel: The Sun Online Producer: Gogglebox Entertainment TX: October 2014 Source: Broadcast

Opportunities for Filmmakers on Alternative/Challenger Platforms

It’s hard to get an idea commissioned as a large indie; it’s even harder if you are working solo. However, the changing media landscape means that there are an ever increasing range of outlets and platforms in need of content. At Sheffield Doc/Fest 2014 a panel of commissioners from emerging/alternative platforms outlined opportunities for more independently-minded filmmakers.

For anyone frustrated by the glacial decision-making and risk averseness of traditional broadcasters (and indies), new digital platforms offer filmmakers an number of advantages.

Show Don’t Tell: New Forms of Arts Programming

One of the many commissioner panels at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2014 concentrated on arts programming and revealed a new trend among arts commissioners: the desire to see art in action. Most channels seem to be moving away from having a host or experts talking about art towards wanting to see artists actually performing and creating art, removing the barrier between artist and viewer.

Greenlit: 13 Days of Blood, Xbox

13 Days of Blood (6 x ) – Interactive docudrama that tells the story of Roman emperor Commodus and a gladiatorial event that saw 13 days of fighting at the Coliseum in Rome that interweaves interviews, dramatic sequences and play-along fight segments. Channel: Xbox Producer: Stephen David Entertainment / Xbox Entertainment Studios TX: 2015 Source: […]

Greenlit: Russell Brand: Give It Up, BBC3

Russell Brand: Give It Up  (1 x 60′) – Following on from his critically acclaimed documentary From Addiction To Recovery, Russell has spent the last 18 months finding out more about addiction treatment around the globe, and investigates how we might best improve treatment for addicts in the UK. The film sees Russell concentrate on […]

Greenlit: The Feed, FYI

The Feed w/t (6 x 60′) –  Part road show, part buddy comedy, part talk show – this is a deliciously inventive new series celebrating food in all its creative, ingenious glory. Three unique and distinctly opinionated hosts – culinary expert and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons; rock star super-chef and The Taste judge Marcus Samuelsson; […]

Greenlit: HGTV Handmade, YouTube

HGTV Handmade – A new collaborative crafting channel that features some of YouTube’s top tastemakers. HGTV.com’s Marianne Canada (WeekdayCrafternoon), Meg Allan Cole (MeganAllanColeCrafts), Karen Kavett (xperpetualmotion), Ann Le (Anneorshine) and Julia Wycliff (SimpleDIYs) each host a weekly how-to vlog that features fun DIY projects such as how to create fashion accessories, handmade jewelry and home […]

Greenlit: Dumping the Alien, Xbox

Dumping the Alien (1 x ) – Documentary that unearths story of a mass burial of ET the Video Game in a grave in New Mexico in 1983. Channel: Xbox Producer: Lightbox TX: 2014 Source: Broadcast

Documentary Funding: The Need to Be Cunning… and Funny

“The more idealistic you are about your work the more cunning and savvy you have to be about the business side” of it says, Ira Glass, presenter of NPR’s This American Life. In this lecture to journalism students he describes what makes good journalism, and how to tell important stories in a way that does them justice. Some of his other observations include:

Don’t wait for permission to make the work you want to make… just start
Be super-ambitious – keep trying things until luck kicks in and you find your story
Amuse yourself – it’s not enough just to be idealistic, you have to love your work if it’s going to move the audience and ultimately make a difference to the world. Provoke a reaction – and humour is a good reaction.
It should be your goal to make memorable work – people remember things that make them smile (Photo by JD Hancock CC BY 2.0)

BBC Launches Expert Women YouTube Channel

The BBC has launched of a new resource for programme makers looking for female specialist contributors: the BBC Expert Women database and YouTube channel. The database contains details of the 60 women who have so far received training via BBC Academy Expert Women Days, a series of free events designed to address the lack of […]

In: Alex Moore, Director of Digital Development, Twofour

Alex Moore has been appointed as Director of Digital Development at Twofour in London, reporting to Spencer Conway, Head of Online. Read more: C21

Twitter: Why Should Filmmakers Bother?

The world seems to be split into two: Twitter Evangelists and Twitter Rejecters.  Although I think it might be fairer to say that the world isn’t so much divided, as at the two ends of a continuum.  Most people start as a Rejecter, but given the time and opportunity, will become an Evangelist and will […]

Asif Kapadia Explains Why Senna Isn’t a Documentary

When you pitch a TV show you have to be able to describe it so that potential funders know what you are talking about. One way of doing that is to use short-hand words, such as format, reality competition show, or more recently occu-reality (shows based in the work place) and comedy-reality (real characters in real situations, cut for humour). One of the most contested genres is documentary with purists insisting that it is one thing (pure observation with no intervention from the director, perhaps) to others playing more fast and loose with the term, happy to include biopics, essay-films and character-driven narratives. Here, Asif Kapadia, director of Senna, one of 2011’s best documentaries, explains why he doesn’t consider it to be a documentary (and why I think it might be a super-hybrid-documentary).

Give Me the Money and I’ll Shoot! Finance Your Factual TV/Documentary Project by Nicola Lees

Building on the success of Greenlit, this book is the most accessible guide to the traditional, emerging and creative funding models being exploited by factual TV producers and documentary filmmakers in an ever-changing international market. It introduces you to ten different kinds of funder – from international broadcasters to ordinary individuals – and reveals their very different motivations for funding non-fiction films and TV series.
Advice from industry insiders – producers, buyers, media agencies and film funding bodies – is combined with a range of case studies that illustrate the benefits and drawbacks of each source of funding. Packed with practical, actionable tips and examples of successful written proposals and grant applications (along with tales of caution), this book explains exactly what TV commissioners, grantors, brands and investors are looking for in a pitch.

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: Yes You Can With Chaban, NuevOn

Yes You Can With Chaban – Actor, motivator, author, primetime soap star, and formerly overweight heartthrob Alejandro Chaban proves that losing weight and getting in shape can be fun and change your life. In this new inspirational series, Chaban helps overweight fans trim up and get much-needed self-worth. Through fun experiments with food, trivia, nutrition […]

Greenlit: Turn It On, NuevOn

Turn It On – Host Alexandra Pomales talks to NuevOn fans from the NuevOn studio in Miami, Florida where she wraps up the highlights of what happens each week on NuevOn and around the web. The show will include behind-the-scenes footage and will address specific comments and questions from the NuevOn audience submitted via YouTube, […]

Greenlit: Mi Vida Con Toty, NuevOn

Ma Vida Con Toty – Manolo Gonzalez Vergara is a 20 year old film and acting student, who happens to be the son of Emmy and Golden Globe award-nominated actress Sofia Vergara. In this new, loud, in-your-face reality series, Manolo documents his mother’s colorful Hollywood Latino life. The voyeuristic, funny mockumentary is a unique opportunity […]

Greenlit: La Gran Royal, NuevOn

La Gran Royal – Mexico’s leading comedy troupe, brings a weekly sketch series that includes musical video parodies, irreverent situations, impersonations and ridiculous comedic situations targeted to young Latino audiences. La Gran Royal was co-founded in 2008 by Marcos Bucay and Moises Aisemberg, a pair of screenwriters, directors and friends who had the ambitious goal […]

Greenlit: King of the Floor, NuevOn

King of the Dance Floor  – A new reality competition series that allows audiences a rarely seen glimpse into the elusive world of underground break dancing where one-on-one dance battles are known for being a way of life and a fulfilling form of expression for an uprising young generation. King of the Floor follows the […]

Greenlit: Feim Fix, NeuvOn

Feim Fix  – A new online Hispanic entertainment news, gossip, fashion, and humor series hosted by beloved host Felipe Viel and his alter egos, the greater-than-life Franchis Mozzo and crass Armando Bronca. Known as one of the most charismatic and recognized Hispanic TV personalities in the world, Viel’s spontaneous style, sense of humor and versatility […]

New Channel: NuevOn (YouTube)

Ben Silverman’s multimedia studio Electus have announced the initial programming and talent line-up for its new Hispanic celebrity-oriented, pop culture channel, NuevOn (Spanish for ‘New On’), which launched on April 16th on YouTube™.NuevOn, which will feature high-impact, buzz-worthy programming almost entirely in Spanish, with a variety of entertaining reality, drama and comedy formats that are […]

Greenlit: The Sprial, Arte, SVT, NRK, YLE, TV3, VRT, VARA

The Spiral (5 x 60′) –  Ambitious cross-territory, multiplatform crime-mystery programme that that sees thieves planning to steal valuable paintings, those paintings vanishing from actual art collections and the viewing public drafted in to help solve the crimes and find the paintings. Channel: Simultaneous broadcast by Arte (France/Germany) / SVT (Sweden) / NRK (Norway) / […]

Greenlit: Hippo: Wild Feast Live, Channel 4

Hippo: Wild Feast Live (1 x 90′ + live streaming online) – A multiplatform event that reveals what happens to a hippo after death. The hippo carcass in question is located in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley by a section of the Luangwa river frequented by a range of predators and scavengers including leopards, lions, Nile crocodiles, […]

Is this the hottest funeral director in the world?

RJ Williams is a funeral director and skate dude. And possibly the hottest funeral director in the world. Watch the video:

Historical Facebook

Ever wonder what the world would have been like if Facebook had been around hundreds of years ago? Me neither. But someone obviously has. Check out updates from God, Abraham Lincoln and the Titanic here.

I Know What Drugs You Did Last Night: Ketamine Kid

Three Billion dug up this video of a guy at a party and suggest it could be the best anti-drugs video ever. Decide for yourself:

Hot Chocolate for Bedouins

Filmmaker Sebastian Lindstrom aims to raise awareness about issues around the world using documentary, but appears to do so with a rare wit and sense of the absurd. His documentary Hot Chocolate for Bedouins promotes camel milk as a healthy alternative to cow’s milk.  The documentary is part of his work his nonprofit foundation What […]

India Outsources Call Centres to the USA

The Washington Post reports that rising wages in India have led Indian outsourcing companies to staff their call centres with workers in America. The workers, largely uneducated African Americans earn around $12-14 an hour plus bonuses, which is four times the wage for a similar worker in India. They get dress-down privileges and free lunch […]

Is Your Library Under Threat? Here’s a Solution

James Econs is a phone box vandal with a ‘Big Society’ conscience. Spotting a disused phone box in Horsely, Surrey he had an idea. A few hours later he’d installed shelves and books and turned it over to the community as a free book exchange. He’s now known as the ‘Banksy of carpentry’. Read more […]

360-Degree Lens For Your iPhone

Kogeto, a NYC design company is about to launch a 360-degree lens attachment for the iPhone that can capture video in the round wherever you are. They crowdfunded it via Kickstarter raising more than $60,000 with 36 days still to run on the campaign (and a goal of just $20,000). Watch the video here:  

Hey NYC, What Song Are You Listening to?

Ty Cullen went out on to the streets of NYC to ask random strangers what songs they were listening to and compiled them into a soundtrack of the city. Watch the video: via PSFK

How the Earth Got its Shape

Measure of the Earth by Larrie Ferreiro tells how an early eighteenth century band of European explorer set out to measure a degree of latitude at the equator in South America using the very latest astronomical and surveying equipment in order to settle a scientific dispute. Descartes said that the Earth was egg-shaped, whilst Isaac […]

The Power of the Right Words

If you want to know how to get people to do what you want to do, watch this video:

Polaroid Collection Saved

An Austrian photography museum has bought a rare collection of 4,400 Polaroid photos by 800+ photographers including Sally Mann and Ansel Adams . You can see 18 of them here: http://bit.ly/eNyAPx .The WestLicht Museum of Photography is displaying the works until 21st August 2011. Visit the WestLicht Museum website. Read more on PhotoRadar  

Literature and Music Pairings

Being  sophisticated sort you’ll no doubt be familiar with food and wine pairings. But have you ever considered pairing your reading matter with appropriate music to enhance your experience? Flavorpill has put together a menu of books and suggested accompaniments such as: William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and The Velvet Underground and Nico Edith Wharton’s The House […]

Borrow a Dog From the Library

Yale Law Library‘s handsome terrier Monty has new responsibilities. He is being loaned out to law students for periods of 30mins to help reduce their stress levels. Read more in the Yale Daily News.    

Butterflies by Post

Spanish firm Mariposeando supplies live Monarch butterflies for celebrations and events. (They are sustainably raised by mentally and physically handicapped workers.) All you have to do is open the special shipment box and the butterflies will flutter free, up into the sky. It costs from 20 Euros for two butterflies to 935 Euros for a […]

Naked in Public [NSFW]

Flavorwire has collated a series of photos of people posing naked in urban and more remote environments – fancy taking your clothes on a tank anyone? See the photos on Flavorwire

“Lab in a Chip” diagnoses HIV and TB

An international team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, has developed a self-powered chip that is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components and can diagnose HIV and TV in minutes. Read more on the […]

The Most Debt Ridden US Cities

CNN have revealed the US cities that have the greatest credit card debt. Columbus, Ohio tops the list with an average credit card debt of $4,631, with Spokane, Washington and Shreveport, Louisiana not far behind. Read more on CNN.

Open Stories – iReporters

CNN has launched an online new reporting platform, Open Stories that crowdsources reporting from both professional and citizen reporters. The project aims to tell important stories from a range of viewpoints, using video, photos and comments. Public contributions are vetted and displayed on a timeline alongside reports from professional journalists. Read more on Springwise.

British Airways Interactive Ad

In March 2011, British Airways staged a competition at Westfiled shopping centre in West London in which shoppers were invited to ask holiday makers on a mystery Caribbean island questions about their location. The competition happened in real time via SMS. If the shoppers guessed where the holiday makers were they could win a luxury […]

Shopping for Men

French dating site DealduJour puts a new twist on online shopping – you can bid for men. For one day only a man will appear in a video and interested women are given a limited amount of time to express their interest. Read more on PSFK

Hackney Hear

Hackney Hear is a GPS-enabled app for the iPhone an Android that will allow visitors to the 2012 London Olympics explore the boroughs around the stadium. As you walk, your location will trigger interviews with famous people from the area, such as Lord Alan Sugar or writer Iain Sinclair. The app will be free and […]

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