The Press Room: Andy Fry, Freelance

This month, we speak to veteran TV journalist Andy Fry ahead of MIPTV to hear what everyone’s talking about in the build up to market.

What are you writing about at the moment?

At the moment I’m mainly writing about subjects related to MIPTV in Cannes. But, being freelance means I have to spread my net quite widely so I’ve also been doing stuff in areas like travel, sponsorship and sports marketing. There’s much more of a sense these days that you need to be writing reports, moderating, consulting and so on to make a living.

What are the headlines everyone’s talking about at the moment?

The issue of female representation on screen is a big story right now. There’s lots of interesting looking dramas that have strong female characters, though still some work to be done with getting women into writing and directing roles. Drama, as always, is also a big talking point – especially with the launch of the new Cannes Series event which will showcase great non-English drama from around the world. Broadcast has also got me doing an interesting piece about entertainment programming based on a round table discussion – definitely a feeling there that drama is being paid too much attention by the trade media and critics.

What is your biggest frustration as a journalist?

The two extremes; 1) organisations that don’t engage at all because they don’t think they need the media. Generally in my experience that leads to problems for them in the long run. 2) Organisations that micromanage the process – questions up front, lots of PR execs involved, requests to see copy, questions about who else is being interviewed. It takes forever and makes you dread dealing with them again in future. But, don’t get me wrong good PRs are amazingly useful.

What are you watching at the moment?

Save Me on Sky, which is really good. I love Lennie James and hope he goes on to win some awards. I’m juggling it with Born To Kill (C4 drama last year) and just finished Peaky Blinders series 4, which was brilliantly back on form after a slightly wayward series 3. Jack Thorne’s Kiri was thought-provoking and for a lighter mood I am watching The Durrells with my wife, which immediately gets me looking at travel websites. I occasionally get sucked into First Dates by my wife and daughters. My son and I tore through the exceptional Silicon Valley and are now bonding over Mr Robot.

The Best TV Moments of 2017

The Best TV Moments of 2017

Christmas is the perfect time of year to look back and reflect on what’s made some of the best TV moments of 2017. There’s been plenty of highlights across all genres in the past 12 months, and the FR team have picked out their favourites. See if you agree with their choices!

Big Little Lies

Sky Atlantic – March 2017

Melanie Webb, Senior Account Director: “I am a sucker for a good TV drama. So, I absolutely loved this series and the grand finale was one of the best hours of television I’ve ever seen. The climax was teased from the very first episode, and part of the intrigue of this series was trying to solve the mystery (before it happened). The series worked back to front, which was a clever narrative tactic. The whole scene was shown in complete silence which not only made it so much more powerful, but was testament to the incredible acting and direction. I can’t wait to see what the second series brings.”

British & Irish Lions

Sky Sports – August 2017

Abi Williams, Account Manager: “It takes something special for me to get out of bed at 8am on a Saturday morning. But, I was committed to getting up and watching all three test matches for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand this summer. And the commitment certainly paid off. After a disappointing start, the last two games made for some of the most entertaining TV of the Summer. I have to confess to watching the last 5 minutes of the final test behind a cushion. Now I can look forward to opening the DVD of the behind the scenes documentary in my stocking at Christmas, and reliving the whole thing again.”

Icarus

Netflix – August 2017

Xander Ross, Junior Account Manager: “Icarus has one of the most unexpected and dramatic shifts in narrative in a documentary I’ve ever seen. Bryan Fogel, filmmaker and amateur cyclist decided to see how doping would improve his performance in competition, whilst seeing how easy it was to avoid detection. In one heart pounding scene, Fogel’s contact Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov has to escape Russia following threats to his life from the state. I was on the edge of my seat wondering whether he would make it or not. It’s not often a documentary has done that so powerfully for me.”

Have I Got News For You

BBC One – November 2017

Sarah Walker, Corporate Communications and Marketing: “My best TV moment of 2017 has to be when the irrepressible and forthright Jo Brand slapped down the Have I Got News For You all male panel, when they appeared to make light of the sexual harassment claims in Westminster during the height of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Her rebuke rightly touched a nerve and garnered cheers and applause from the audience. It must one of the few times in the show’s history that both Paul Merton and Ian Hislop – and their partners in crime journalist Quentin Letts and actor Miles Jupp – have been rendered speechless. Go Jo!”

Peaky Blinders

BBC Two – November 2017

Eve Edmunds, Account Executive: “The return of Peaky Blinders was long overdue and the perfect way to settle into the long winter ahead. Dark, gritty, grey and yet somehow incredibly glamorous, this series so far has been packed with the perfect dose of drama. Tommy Shelby is the star of the show as he attempts to reconcile with his family in the face of his greatest threat. In this series, the subplot of political turmoil also provides a really interesting historical backdrop to the internal drama. Never has the idea of being a 1920s Brummie gangster been so appealing.”

2017 in summary

Leigh Turnbull, Managing Director: “Despite everything going on in the world this year, we have thankfully had some pretty outstanding TV to distract us. We’ve been spoiled by incredible dramas, both returning series and brand new productions. Favourite moments for me included Olenna Tyrell’s final speech in Game of Thrones, Balaclava Man’s reveal in Line of Duty, the return of Victoria, the finale of Broadchurch, finally getting justice for Barb, everything about Catastrophe, and Tom Hardy being Tom Hardy in Taboo.  New dramas to hit our screen and offer some incredible TV also included Three Girls, The Handmaid’s Tale, Mindhunter, Big Little Lies, Broken and Fearless to name but a few.

Not forgetting, we’ve also been treated to some summer fun in Love Island, Stanley Johnson negotiating his way through the jungle, Strictly shock eliminations, thought-provoking storylines from the soaps and the unveiling of a history-making Doctor.  As I said to the team, it’s too difficult to pick just one of these but if I really have to pick my favourite TV moment, it might just have to be this…

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and happy telly-watching!

The Making of an International Drama

The Making of an International Drama

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.

Making news count at MIPCOM

Making news count at MIPCOM

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 InternationalKeshet 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…

Showstopping Formats: Creating TV That Captures Our Time

Showstopping Formats: Creating TV That Captures Our Time

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.

Edinburgh International TV Festival: Diversity and the role of PR

Edinburgh International TV Festival: Diversity and the role of PR

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.

Raising Awareness

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.

Combining platforms

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