This time every year London plays host to the international drama industry. Producers, broadcasters and commissioners from around the world come together to do business and discuss what makes great TV at C21’s International Drama Summit. So what are the challenges facing international drama producers?
During an in-depth panel about TV drama development, Jill Green, Chief Executive at Eleventh Hour Films said:
“The perfect partnership for a co-production doesn’t come along very often. The challenge for indies [like us] is making that partnership work on an international scale.”
Judging from the audience’s reaction, it’s a sentiment felt industry-wide.
This week, we had the pleasure of announcing an exciting international development and distribution deal between Eleventh Hour Films and Sony Pictures Television International Production. A UK and US collaboration that tells a story from British history, set on a US air base, it ticks all the right boxes for an international partnership.
Rendlesham is a compelling and emotional family drama inspired by the real-life UFO incident which took place at a US air base close to the village of Rendlesham, Suffolk in 1980. The series plays out against the height of the Cold War, exploring themes which resonate stronger than ever today.
With award-winning writer and director Joe Ahearne confirmed to helm the show – it also goes to show that great talent is key to making great international drama come to life.
The Rendlesham announcement coincided with the opening day of the Drama Summit, and was received with applause during sessions featuring Sony’s Wayne Garvey and Eleventh Hour Film’s Jill Green. With a full sweep of coverage across the board in Variety, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, Broadcast, C21 and Worldscreen – the news has made an impact for Eleventh Hour at a key time in the industry calendar.
It’s the busiest time of the year for the TV industry. And our press office is no exception! Everyone wants to make an impact at market and we’ve been busy doing just that for our clients, announcing some of the biggest deals that happened at MIPCOM. Here’s what we’ve been working on:
Shellhut and Tiny Island Pictures sign record 10 feature film MOU with Shanghai Media Group’s Wingsmedia
The biggest animation film cooperation deal took place between Thailand’s Shellhut Entertainment and Singapore’s Tiny Island Productions earlier this month. Both companies signed on a 10-feature film co-production with MOU and WingsMedia, a member of Oriental Pearl Group and Shanghai Media Group. Valued at an estimated USD$250 million, this is the first ever China-Singapore-Thailand animation co-production! Following a buzzing press conference at MIPCOM, news of the deal was covered in Variety, C21, MIP Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Content Asia, Animation magazine to name but a few.
Komixx secures worldwide rights to Wattpad sensation ‘Captured’ by Kelly Anne Blount
Independent film and TV producer, Komixx Entertainment announced it has optioned the worldwide screen rights to electrifying young adult thriller novel Captured; the debut novel from award winning author Kelly Anne Blount with more than 15.6 million reads worldwide on Wattpad. Captured builds on Komixx’s reputation as a leading producer of exciting YA TV and film adaptations internationally. With the announcement featuring prominently in The Bookseller, C21, Variety and the Variety newsletter on the first day of MIPCOM – Komixx is fast becoming known as the leader in identifying content to surprise the YA generation.
Talesmith explores the history of Earth in spectacular new documentary for ZEEL and Smithsonian Channel
High-end, specialist factual production company Talesmith has been commissioned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises LTD (ZEEL) and Smithsonian Channel to produce the incredible Life of Earth: From Space and Life of Earth: The Age of Humans. A world-first collaboration between Talesmith, ZEEL and the Smithsonian Channel – this spectacular two-hour 4K/UHD feature documentary delves into the planet’s extraordinary 4.5 billion-year old history as never seen before. With coverage in the MIP Daily, Realscreen, C21, TBI, Worldscreen and TV Asia – this was one announcement making history at MIPCOM.
Smithsonian channel™ renews hit series ‘America in Color’ from Arrow Media
Arrow Media has been re-commissioned to produce six new hour-long episodes of its hit series America In Color by the Smithsonian Channel. The series, which first premiered in July, presents iconic moments in U.S. history as never seen before – using artistry, an expert colorizing team and cutting-edge technology to transform black-and-white films and photographs into vibrant 4K color. The announcement appeared in Televisual, Realscreen and C21 at an important time during the market to help Arrow make an impact.
Channel 5 orders second season of Naked Entertainment’s ‘Celebrity 100% Hotter’
London-based Naked Entertainment, the production company creating bold, innovative factual and entertainment programming, chose MIPCOM to announce its extreme-make-under format 100% Hotter has been commissioned by Channel 5 for a second celebrity spin-off series. Following the success of the first series, which almost doubled the broadcaster’s primetime average among 16-34 year olds, the four hour-long episodes will air in January 2018. C21, Worldscreen and Realscreen all covered the news with enthusiasm!
TV Azteca and Keshet International join forces in scripted co-development deal for Mexico market
Keshet International announced a scripted deal to co-develop and produce a new original Spanish-language super series (60 episodes) to air on TV Azteca. The series will be developed under the KI banner and co-produced in house with TV Azteca and set to launch in 2018. Keshet International will distribute the series globally. With widespread coverage across the board in Variety, Rapid TV News, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Worldscreen, TBI and C21 – the news comes during a period of tremendous growth for KI in Latin America.
Until next year MIPCOM…
The best TV shows tap into the social consciousness of the time. Love Island gave us relief in a summer of political turmoil and now whether we want to admit it or not – social media is taking over. So when we had the opportunity to promote Keshet UK’s brand new format for ITV2 Celebrity Showmance, we jumped at the chance.
It’s all social
Following three unlikely celebrity ‘couples’ made up of TOWIE’s Chloe Sims and 5ive pop star Abz Love, socialite Lady Victoria Hervey and footballer Jamie O’Hara, and lastly Hollywood actress Hayley Hasselhoff and Geordie Shore’s Kyle Christie; Celebrity Showmance puts the celebrities’ social personas to the test.
The public was invited to witness the burgeoning ‘relationships’ through the keyhole of social media. Competing to convince their social following that the showmance was true love, the couples on Celebrity Showmance truly capture our nation’s fascination with celebrity relationships.
Who’s in on the secret?
The format has created quite a buzz in the press. Our publicity campaign has already featured in consumer magazines across the board, with coverage in OK, Closer, New Magazine, Radio Times, and TV Times to name a few.
It looks like the social world is getting on board too. On Twitter alone, posts talking about the first episode using #CelebrityShowmance had a reach of more than 19million.
Unlike any other TV game show, the public become unwitting judges as each couples’ chance of winning hinges on the amount of buzz they generate across social media.
It’s been thrilling to let the whole country in on the secret and we can’t wait to keep watching. Tune in to ITV2 on Wednesday at 9pm to see how the showmances unfold.
At the Edinburgh International TV Festival, news presenter Jon Snow delivered a stirring and emotional MacTaggart Lecture in which he argued the media has become “disconnected” from some parts of society. His impassioned speech had tears in many of the audiences eyes, mine included.
“The completely man-made Grenfell disaster has proved beyond all other domestic events, how little we know, and how dangerous the disconnect is.”
“The Grenfell story was out there, shocking in its accuracy, hidden in plain sight.. but we had stopped looking.”
The challenge for the media is; how can it better reflect the problems, interests, and sensibilities of different cultures so that it better represents modern British society?
Behind the Camera
One of the best ways to achieve this is to increase the diversity of behind the camera talent. These people decide what is interesting, what programmes are made, and what news is reported. It is an issue that needs to be tackled at the grassroots level. It’s about increasing awareness of opportunities that are on offer – and shedding light on TV as a potential career.
Edinburgh International TV Festival’s Talent Schemes
This is where PR can help. As a company operating in the media industry, there’s scope to use PR to develop awareness and events to raise the profile of the industry in communities. At Franklin Rae we work to promote the Edinburgh International TV Festival’s Talent Schemes, Ones To Watch and The Network. These work together to drive applications from all parts of the country.
To engage with people from a number of varied communities meant we had to work differently. In order to raise the profile of the talent schemes we worked closely with local journalists, placing case studies and using social media in ways that would resonate with the audience. For example, interviews with creative leaders of diverse backgrounds and sourced testimonials from TV talent who are well known in these communities.
Both schemes do incredible work getting people from all walks of life involved in TV. Jon Snow applauded the schemes in his speech for this very reason – to great cheers from this year’s members! We were with the members of the schemes throughout the festival and their enthusiasm, knowledge, and skill was incredible. Their energy will really help drive the industry forward.
By Xander Ross, Senior Account Executive at Franklin Rae
As Donald Trump looks to engineer the world in his own image and turn the planet orange, Sheffield Doc/Fest hosted the panel “Climate Change: The Greatest Story of Our Time?”. The session explored the challenges of telling the story of climate change on screen. The panel consisted of leading figures from across the factual industry, including Arrow Media’s Ash Potterton (Man Made Planet: Earth From Space, C4), Director Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Coral, Netflix), Director Julia Dahr (Thank You For The Rain), Prof Joe Smith (Open University) and Keo Film’s Will Anderson (Hugh’s War on Waste, BBC) and Sky Entertainment’s Celia Taylor.
The poisoned chalice
TV remains one of the most influential and readily accessible mediums for the public to learn about the world. And climate change represents the most significant threat to the survival of this planet. According to a recent IPSOS Mori poll, 80% of the global population now agree climate change is largely the result of human activity.
Despite the clear importance of the subject, climate change programming was previously regarded as a “poisoned chalice” among producers. Arrow’s Ash Potterton, admitted as much during the panel. But after making Man Made Planet: Earth from Space, Arrow recognised that issues with the genre’s “preachy” tone must be addressed. The challenge is to create a show which avoids the old tropes. It needs to be engaging and entertaining, with a broad appeal.
Putting the story first
This attitude shift is part of a wider trend within the production industry. Producers are beginning to explore innovative ways of making shows which tackle climate change. The UK is home to the most creative talent in the world and they’re making climate change shows people want to watch. The industry has recognised the need to put the story first and the subject second. It’s about encouraging producers to use their brilliant storytelling skills to eschew that “preachy” tone. This doesn’t mean every show is going to get it right. But it does mean key lessons are being learned about what works with an audience and what doesn’t.
Take Arrow’s Man Made Planet: Earth from Space as an example. For a supposedly unpopular genre, the ratings revealed that in the 16-24-year-old bracket viewing figures were up 73%! This was achieved by packaging the documentary as a never-before-seen perspective on how the world has changed over the past 45 years. And not solely about climate change.
Climate change is a subject which struggles with balancing small human elements with the grand central issue. It’s a problem of creating scale. With Man Made Planet: Earth from Space, the solution was bouncing from the macro (satellite time-lapse images images showing the dramatic changes caused by mankind) to the individual (plucking out personal stories about the impact climate change has had on them), in order to make it feel both epic and intimate.
Finding a platform
With SVoD, the opportunities to reach different groups of people has become even easier. Chasing Coral from Emmy Award winning director Jeff Orlowski launches on Netflix in July, and tackles the catastrophic damage of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. And whilst an exceptional film, where else would such content have found a home where it could reach so many? Orlowski spoke about how Netflix allowed them to take the film on tour to schools, colleges, universities and community centres. We all know someone with a Netflix account, so by letting Orlowski put it on a big screen, it becomes extra marketing for the platform. It also means that the message about global warming reaches a far wider audience – a win-win situation.
With Trump abandoning the Paris climate agreement, it has never been more important for the global community to tackle the single greatest threat to our existence. We’re on the right path and the TV industry is waking up to the responsibility of using its influence as storytellers to spread the message.
There’s just one last thing I’d like to leave you with; more needs to be done and not just by telling stories. It’s time to practice what is being preached. Production companies need to really think about how they can be greener. A good place to start is the albert sustainability initiative for the visual-arts; a venture set up in conjunction with BAFTA which provides guidelines and a commitment to being an eco-friendly producer. I’ll raise an ethically sourced plastic bottle of water to that!
By Xander Ross, Senior Account Executive at Franklin Rae
Last month we ventured to Paris for Series Mania – the co-production event for scripted producers, and it was buzzing. Now in its eighth year, Series Mania is less about selling TV and more about celebrating the creative talent off-screen and nurturing co-production relationships.
Co-producing with partners that can add real value has become more important to a show’s success. Gone are the days where you would receive a healthy commission from a broadcaster to make a show and a good advance from your distributor, plus additional amounts of income from sales. Although having a broadcaster on-board remains somewhat critical, a production may also need co-pro partners that bring something in addition to finance to the table. It could be a different cultural perspective – resulting in a broader appeal amongst audiences, or it could be a fantastic showrunner, casting relationship, a location genius, a rocking writing-room, a relationship with broadcasters in a different territory, a stockpile of the latest hardware, a fantastic post-facility or just a different way of working.
Series Mania has a different vibe to other events we attend. It’s more creative, with producers discussing the challenges of a second series, how networks can kill a show, or even why Nordic comedy travels. There’s also a full day of experienced production companies from all over Europe pitching their show concept on stage in front of the industry – all looking to forge alliances to get their projects off the ground.
The organisers did an amazing job too in looking after us delegates. Hospitality really makes such a difference and we were spoilt with drinks at the jawdroppingly gorgeous gilt-laden Hotel de Ville, followed by dinner the next day at The Museum of Natural History.
Throughout the whole event, it was refreshing to see the top European production companies building relationships with their UK counterparts.
Great relationships have to start somewhere and Paris definitely isn’t a bad backdrop. Who knows where they may end up?
By Sophie Naylor, Managing Director at Franklin Rae.