MIP TV & MIPDOC
Cannes March 27 – April 2, 2004
London April 3-7, 2004
Report by Susan MacKinnon
There are a few rules that remain fast for the documentary business. The market is getting
increasingly crowded every day, with more filmmakers competing for a finite number of time
slots. It is essential to have international co-production partners for the high-end productions.
Compelling stories and exciting visuals are essential for the high-end big series, which are
difficult to make and expensive.
D-Day, made by Dangerous Films, is the next 'Uber' BBC film that everyone was
talking about. The marriage of full-blown dialogue drama with testimony and archive
makes it an interesting documentary. It is also an interactive documentary where
eyewitness accounts are linked through the use of the red button on the remote
control. The film is a co-production between Discovery in the US, Pro-Sieben in
Germany and France 2 TV, and has a budget of around GBP £3,300,000.
With schedules overflowing with noisy format series, blockbuster co-productions and
lifestyle shows, one-off documentaries can be lost in the middle ground. Despite the
technical revolution of television and interactivity, narrative is still essential and no
one wants to be interrupted when immersed in a good story. Great documentaries
have to be re-elevated back onto a pedestal where there will always be a market.
This was the seventh year for MIPDOC, run prior to MIPTV for buyers and sellers
screening documentaries. The demand for documentaries has remained high and
the genre has become important for all channels; specialist and thematic, cable and
According to Reed Midem, 53 countries were represented at MIPDOC 2004, with 539
participants viewing a total of 1031 programs. All styles of documentary program
were on sale with the most watched programs being the Carlton UK production The
Ancient Greek Olympics, the A&E US program The Barbarians, both being history
and civilisation films. The next two most watched programs, both Canadian and both
current affairs, were the Canadian films Stupidity: The Documentary and The Battles
for Our Minds. MIPDOC statistics show that buyers wanted more current affairs and
As part of the weekend MIPDOC held some conferences. The Programmers'
Perspectives had speakers giving an overview on the state of the non-fiction
Abigail Greensfelder, Vice President, Programming, Discovery Channel USA
2005 will be the 20th anniversary for Discovery. At present Discovery runs 900 hours
a year of documentary programming. It has been trying to expand its demographic
by using the tagline ‘Entertain Your Brain’, and to have fun with popular science with
programs like the Australian series Myth Busters. Abigail explained the Discovery
DNA with the acronym SCUDS: S for story driven, C for characters (including hosts),
U for unexpected (presenting new information or a new hook), D for delving and
distinctive, and S for straight forward. In the co-production area Discovery is looking
Christoph Jorg, Specialist Factual,
Christoph Jörg is a commissioning executive in the Arte France Specialist Factual
department, handling history, science, religion and sport ideas. He is in charge of
international development and international co-productions. Christoph explained that
ARTE had a small audience share in France (of 4 per cent) and that the documentary
audience was mostly women.
Marena Manzoufas, Director of Programming for ABC TV.
Marena oversees the network schedule, supervising the acquisition of both
international and domestic programming. She spoke about the five lively prime-time
documentary slots presently on the ABC, 50- 60 per cent of which are filled with
shows acquired from international sources. She felt the reality television boom in
Australia had gone bust with a number of programs having been canned only a few
weeks into their run. She also said documentaries were working well for the ABC,
particularly the recent summer season.
Thomas Schreiber, Controller at NDR Television in Hamburg, is responsible for
the development, production and co-production of various broadcast programs.
These include current affairs, history and science documentaries, children and family
television, arts magazines, natural history/wildlife productions and Arte (The
European Culture Channel).
Mark Starowicz, Area Executive Producer, CBC Documentary Unit - CBC
Television – Canada
Until recently, Mark was head of CBC Television’s Documentary Programming Unit,
responsible for the prime-time series Witness (winner of a Gemini Award for Best
Documentary Series) and Life & Times. He is currently head of Documentary
Production at the CBC.
Iikka Vehkalahti, Commissioning Editor YLE TV2 Finland has been working as
Executive Producer for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE TV2 Documentaries
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(Dokumenttiprojekti) is known as a brand by 70 per cent of the Finns and it has a
market share averaging 20 per cent. Iikka commissions around 40-50 documentary
programs a year.
MIPTV & MILIA, Cannes 29 March – 2 April
Mobile entertainment geared towards the ‘Always-on’ generation had an increased
presence at this year’s Milia interactive market, which merged with MIPTV in the
Palais des Festival.
Jana Bennett, Director of Television BBC, gave the opening keynote speech
about the future of television in a cross-platform world. She underlined the growing
importance of convergence to television, outlining links between traditional television,
digital technology and content, and new distribution platforms.
At MIPDOC an excellent example of this new technology was POV Borders
presented by Theresa Riley, Director, P.O.V. interactive. Breaking new ground in
story telling and technology with Borders – PBS' first web only documentary series.
The MILIA 2004 conference program offered sessions looking at networked home
entertainment, cross-platform content creation, participation television and new
distribution opportunities provided by the emerging broadband and mobile channels.
Much of the visible factual promotion in the Palais was for factual format programs competing
with fiction at the heart of schedules. Despite programs like I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of
Here, drama programs remain the tent poles of the viewing menu. On ITV, topping the list was
veteran soap Coronation Street, watched by 19 million viewers compared with I’m A Celebrity’s
12.7 million. On Channel Four, however, reality shows claimed the top three spots – Big
Brother, Wife Swap and Celebrity Wife Swap. It is said that the broadcasters are looking
increasingly at the cost benefit analysis of programming and that drama doesn’t make money
for Channel Four, but reality shows do. However, the performance of reality formats is much
harder to predict than traditional fare such as drama and what is becoming clear about reality
formats is that the winners are bigger but so are the losers. Success in one territory does not
guarantee success in another. Increasingly audiences are showing less commitment to these
programs than drama, watching only intermittently. To counter this, a new hybrid of drama-
reality is emerging to create some artificial drama. Some feel reality formats will eventually eat
themselves, as all that will be left is sex and death, like snuff movies. Already at BBC2, with
dropping ratings, Living the Dream and SAS-Are You Tough Enough have been axed.
The US format The Littlest Groom, about a dwarf finding love has been accused of reaching an
exploitative new low in programming, while the US reality show The Apprentice is booming. Set
in New York, over 15 weeks it tests 16 competitors’ survival techniques in the corporate world
under the scrutiny of ‘The Boss’, played by Donald Trump. Candidates compete in a series of
rigorous weekly business tasks to win an executive position with The Trump Organisation for a
salary of $250,000 a year.
The success of Wife Swap has forced drama producers to lift their game. Formats will not
replace high production values such as US Sopranos, Six Feet Under and the UK’s State of
With so much emphasis on this new breed of documentary, the pressure is on high-end factual
titles that have to justify their budget. However, documentary is still cheaper than drama and
will continue to fill in the gaps.
With the new code of practice and increased rights in the UK, independent companies are open
to the business of distribution. Producers are now wary of handing over rights wholesale to any
single distributor. Some are setting up on their own or with fellow producers. Two more UK
independent production companies have set up sales operations to represent their own
programs. Wall to Wall had its own MIPTV stand with over 70 hours of programming and Zig
Zag Productions has set up an international arm. The advantages for independent producers to
self distribute are that at the point of sale the producer can pass on much more information to
the buyer, the producer has control about the potential of the program and rights are added
value for a company.
However it is expensive to set up unless there is one or two guaranteed bankers/ investors who
will cover the costs. While large distributors are expected to lose some business, they’ll still be
hard to beat, offering clout, leverage, more deficit funding and overseas offices as selling points.
The smaller companies boast a more focused, made-to-measure service.
The market is becoming smaller and increasingly specialised. The secondary market of cable
and satellite broadcasters has come of age. In particular global players such as the Discovery
Network and National Geographic have matured into networks capable of funding a significant
proportion of their schedules. UK free-to-air broadcasters will now rarely fully fund a program
and the NGC and Discoveries will be where the rest of the money will often be found. By
licensing to a global player the sell-on potential of the program is greatly diminished.
Programming produced to the editorial requirements of those secondary channels is now often
unsuitable for distribution to the terrestrial free-to-air market due to counter programming.
Australian documentary filmmakers at MIPTV
Ian Collie, Hillton Cordel Productions
Chris Hilton, Hilton Cordell Productions
Sonja Armstrong, Sonja Armstrong Productions
Margie Bryant, Serendipity Productions
Charles Hannah, Becker Entertainment
Rosemary Blight, RB Films
Alan Lindsay, Vue Pty Ltd
Mark Chapman, Big Island Pictures.
Ruth Berry, Big Island Pictures.
Wayne Groome, Australian International Pictures
Ed Punchard & Julia Redwood Prospero Productions
Andrew Ogilvie Electric Pictures
Chris Hetherington Circling Shark productions - doco/lifestyle
Aiden O'Bryan doco/multimedia
Matt Morgan doco hoping to move into drama
Ryan Hodgson doco mostly, some drama
Robin Eastwood Robin Eastwood Productions
I had meetings with commissioning editors and sales people that included the following:
After three years without a head of documentaries, the BBC has found Alan Hayling. Many are
looking forward to Alan breaking through the corporate culture and getting in touch with
documentary makers. He is well known for his impressive documentary resume as well as his
enthusiasm for team building and his maverick spirit, having worked at Channel Four and the
independent production company Mentorn. He was quoted saying he had the skill to help build
an atmosphere that is creative and risk-friendly and that the BBC needed an enabling culture.
Jo Clinton David, Head of Independent Documentaries, BBC1
Jo is interested in contemporary stories about how we live, such as a recent
production Grumpy Old Men with celebrities talking about the 60’s and the dream.
Time Commander has also been successful, where teams recreate historical battles
using computer generated images. She does not do arts or religion. She is looking
for series for BBC1 and 2. On BBC1 At 9pm Jo wants six one-hour series that create
‘noise and splash’.
Krishan Arora, Senior Commissioning Executive, Independents & Nations (Regions),
Specialist Factual, BBC email@example.com
He is trying to make dense subjects in popular ways. He said the pressure of trying to deliver 2.3
million audiences for a 9pm screening determines commissioning. One-offs will not work in these
primetime slots. For the BBC to work with Australian filmmakers there, needs to be a broadcasting
objective for the BBC and an Australian broadcaster.
Ian Russell, Deputy Controller, News Current Affairs, Documentaries, Five firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Russell and his boss, Chris Shaw, are keen to commission and acquire
observational documentaries with strong stories for prime time at 8pm or 9pm. They
don’t have the big money like Channel Four or the BBC however, a prime time
commission can attract a presale of £100,000 – £150,000. Exceptional current affairs
stories are of interest and topical subjects, in particular crime, royalty and popular
contemporary/ tabloid stories, work well for a Five audience. Late night
documentaries are commissioned with a sexual or crime theme for the post-movie
slot at 11pm and 12 midnight. However, it can’t be gratuitous.
Chris Shaw is commissioning theatrical documentaries and is involved with a film
about the Nazi war criminal hunter, Simon Wiesenthal. The film had a budget of £1
million of which Five contributed approximately £300,000.
Dan Chambers is now at the helm of Five as Director of Programs. Alex Sutherland is
the commissioning editor for history email@example.com and Justine Kirshaw the
commissioning editor for science firstname.lastname@example.org. For acquisitions contact
Bethan Corney with a synopsis and she will determine whether to send a viewing
Alex Sutherland, Controller of History, is
building on the success of the history strand, Revealed, and is looking to commission
further films for the series. These films (generally one-hour long) need to have strong
name recognition: of an event, a person or a historical subject. Ideas can come from
any time from the earliest civilisations, although more contemporary times are
favoured. Crucially, though, there must be a new revelation. For example, it might be
based on archaeological finds, forensic science, recently released documents,
witnesses or a compelling new theory. Alex is interested also in developing half-hour
accessible history series with a clearly focussed and catchy proposition (eg Greatest
Military Clashes). New ways of doing biographies are appealing, as are landmark
series with big new ideas at their core. Co-production potential is always attractive.
Contemporary or social history with a popular and appealing focus are also sought,
such as the three-part series on advertising: The Ads that Changed the World, The
Funniest Ads in the World Probably, and The Ads They Had to Ban.
Jane Latman, Acquisitions, Discovery Times Channel (DTC).
The New York Times Company invested $100 million to buy 50 per cent of the Discovery Times
Channel. DCI has been on air for one year and is operated from DCI headquarters in Bethesda,
Maryland. The Channel runs programs ranging from international affairs, modern history to
popular culture but will not take personal journey films. The Senior Vice President and General
Manager is Vivian Schiller (ex CNN) and the second in command is Bill Smee. DTC is
launching a new one-hour strand called World Wire in June at 8pm, for international sociological
stories. Titles that will run here are Russian Brides, Moscow Seige, IKEA, and The Hajj:
Journey of A Lifetime. Licence fees for original programming will range from US$100,000 to
$200,000 for US rights and acquisitions will attract US$15 – 60,000. Jane recently purchased
David Bradbury’s film, Fond Memories of Cuba, and was interested in Sherine Salama’s new
Paola Freccero, Senior Vive President, Film Programming, Sundance Channel,
Paola is looking for social films and can provide acquisition fees and possibly finishing
funds. She is interested in attending the Adelaide AIDC.
Olaf Grunert, Head of Theme Nights, ZDF/ ARTE, Germany
Olaf was interested in a number of Australian productions for his themed nights.
Catherine Olsen, Commissioning Editor, Passionate Eye, Independent Documentaries,
Catherine’s strand, Passionate Eye, is now on the main channel and will have 6 –8 hours for
Canadian co-productions to be commissioned. Witness will remain with 6 – 8 hours
commissioned a year. Catherine was pleased with the outcome of the Australian-Canadian co-
production, Helen’s War, which was screened on Newsworld Documentaries strand. She is very
keen to come to the AIDC having never been to Australia.
Christoph Jorg, ARTE Thema
He is looking for cutting edge, arts and cultural programs for a large audience. His themed
nights have covered terrorism, economic crises and globalisation.
Nobuo Isobe, Senior Producer, Satellite & Hi-Vision Broadcasting Department, NHK isobe.n-
Mr Isobe is a producer for NHK, not a commissioning editor, but can recommend productions to
commissioning. If NHK provides ten per cent of the budget, NHK wants all rights in Japan. If it
provides one third of the budget, NHK wants all rights for Asia and New Zealand.
Peter Weil, General Manager & SVP, Animal Planet International,
Chris Tidman, Manager, Acquisitions & Business Affairs, Discovery Channel UK
Discovery Channel UK is the UK’s leading factual entertainment channel, looking for
new high quality documentaries from around the globe. Programs must be
entertaining and accessible with strong production values and compelling narrative.
The key areas are:
1. Science covering engineering, space, extreme natural forces, transport, the
paranormal, crime/ forensic and medical stories.
2. History covering ancient, mystery, military, modern/ 20th Century and biography.
3. Reality covering behind the scenes – revealing documentaries about life in
extraordinary jobs/ industries; human files – inspiring or incredible stories about
extraordinary people; survival against the odds.
Contacts: Rebecca Armstrong (Channel Co-ordinator) +44 207 462 3708
Louisa Bolch (Program Manager) +44 207 462 5941
Animal Planet has relaunched itself under a recently centralised management
structure. It has a strong adult focus and a tagline It Grabs You and reaches 124
million subscriber households in 72 countries around the globe. The schedule is
dedicated solely to animal programming and the emphasis is populist. New general
manager and SVP, Animal Planet International, Peter Weil says “Intrigue, humour,
relationships, life and death, nature unrehearsed.” He makes commissioning
decisions for Australia.
Christina Willoughby, Head of International Sales & Co-production. Channel Four
Currently around 60 per cent of the C4I catalogue is in factual programming.
Christina is hoping to increase the drama level. Post the Communications Act it is
estimated that Channel Four could lose up to £8 million in distribution business from
producers who are now able to take their program rights elsewhere. C4I will have to
position itself as the distributor of choice.
What producers will want to hear most from C4I is the promise of money up front.
C4I is able to offer development and investment funding to quite a high level; it has a
development fund of £2 million, £15 million of deficit funding and £3 million for co-
With the merger of Granada and Carlton, C4I is hoping to fill the hole left by Carlton
that was an independent-friendly distributor. This season’s C4I catalogue begins
with HBO titles reflecting the new arrangement of C4I selling HBO documentaries. It
includes the startling An Actual Autopsy with Dr Michael Baden and Am I Good in
Bed. UK C4 hits have been the recent The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off, The Boy Who
Gave Birth to His Twin and The Man Who Ate His Lover. All are science programs.
Huw Walters, Head of Co-Productions, S4C International www.s4ci.com
Iona Jones, Director of Programs
S4C is an active co-production partner in international documentary and animation,
with a strong sense of story and high production values. S4C will provide a licence
fee and S4C International will provide an advance against international distribution
rights. As a minority language broadcaster (Welsh), S4C International understands
the sensitivities and practicalities of producing programs that cross cultural
boundaries but still grab the attention of the audience. S4C will work with its co-
producers to help version the Welsh version. It is always looking for hooks such as
anniversaries to hang screenings on. It participated in a substantial way with the VIC
series Stories from the Stoneage, which sold to RAI TV Italy at MIPTV.
Mark Reynolds, Head of International Factual, Granada International
This MIP was the first time Carlton International and Granada International presented
as a single entity. It has a turnover of £105 million and earns another £34 million
from video, publishing and merchandising. Its 30,000-hour catalogue includes
Granada standards, such as Coronation Street, I’m A Celebrity, Thunderbirds and a
movie catalogue of over 200.
Ellen Windemuth, Managing Director, Off the Fence, Amsterdam
This company works mainly in the areas of natural history, history (contemporary and
ancient) and science. Ellen is keen to meet Australian producers and consider
projects that may be suitable. www.offthefence.com
Jan Rofekamp, CEO, Films Transit, Montreal and Barbara Truyen, Amsterdam
Films Transit is presently selling A Wedding in Ramallah, The President versus David Hicks,
The Man Who Stole My Mother’s Face, The Men Who Would Conquer China, Molly and
Mobarak and Helen’s War, all financed by the FFC.
Pippa Lambert, Acquisitions Executive, TVF International, London
TVF is a London-based sales company. Pippa attended the AIDC at Byron Bay and is familiar
with most of the Australian independent filmmakers. TVF is selling FFC financed A Cave in the
Snow and My Mother India and is interested in a number of accord films in post-production.
Anthony Kimble, Zig Zag Productions, UK
Anthony left TVF International to set up the international arm of Zig Zag. Anthony oversees
program sales and seeks additional funding through presales and co-production, focussing on
France, Germany, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Lilla Hurst, Head of Acquisitions, RDF International, UK
RDF is an independent UK production company which produced the hugely successful Channel
Four format series Faking It and the controversial Wife Swap. Most recently RDF International
has become involved in the Hilton Cordell living history series The Colony, the Electric Pictures
series, Submariners and the Victorian film A Machine to Die For. Lilla has been poached to
generate co-production programs for the UK broadcaster Five, reporting to director of programs,
Dan Chambers. She will commence this in April. It is not known as yet who will replace Lilla.
Kate Falconer, Acquisitions & Development Manager, MetroDome
In October 2003, Metrodome released the multi-award winning Spellbound in the UK.
It is the intense, real-life experience of the national spelling bee and eight young
spellers who compete to win. It began with 13 prints and is still running in two
cinemas. It has taken over £500,000 at the box office. Other films released by
Metrodome include Bus 174 (three prints), Corporation and Last Victory (both with
five prints). MetroDome’s audience is arthouse and it aims to counter program to the
mainstream cinemas. American documentaries do well as audiences are fascinated
with American culture. Metrodomes take the theatrical and DVD rights for ten years
for the UK and includes Gibraltar, Malta and Ireland. For documentaries it can pay
up to US$25,000 for these rights. Kate was very keen to hear from Australian
filmmakers and hoped to make it to the Adelaide AIDC.
Laura de Castro, General Manager, Metro Tartan UK
Metro Tartan Distribution was established in 1992 by the merger of two of the UK’s
leading independent theatrical distributors, Metro Pictures and Tartan Film. It is one
of the UK’s foremost distributors of independent film and world cinema. The company
consists of a theatrical film distribution wing - Metro Tartan Distribution, and
video/DVD label - Tartan Video. Metro Tartan, the theatrical distribution division, has
been responsible for some of the most cutting-edge, adventurous and often
controversial film titles released in the UK over the past decade. (Man Bites Dog,
Junk Mail, Dead Man’s Curve, The Idiots, Dobermann, Hard Boiled, Billy’s Hollywood
Screen Kiss, Jamon Jamon and Warm Water Under a Red Bridge, In the Mood for
Metro Tartan has various Australian features (La Spagnola, Japanese Story and
Black and White). Laura is keen to look at any documentaries that may be suitable
for theatrical release, after the success with Etre et Avoir (15 prints) which was the
fifth highest grossing film in the UK. She was opening Capturing the Freidmans (26
prints) the week we met, My Architect, SuperSize Me and Yes Men. She says each
documentary receives five screenings a day like features do.
Iain Canning, Acquisitions Executive, Renaissance Films, UK
Renaissance is a small but active, cashed-up company. Iain is looking for
documentaries for the cinema but hasn’t found any to date. He considered Super
Size Me and Touch the Void (Pathe picked it up).
UK FILM COUNCIL
New Cinema Fund – Emma Clark, Senior Executive
The New Cinema Fund supports innovation, new talent and cutting edge filmmaking.
Its budget is £5 million per annum. In the past three years the Fund has supported
six documentaries including John Dower's documentary Live Forever, Soffie Feinne’s
Hoover Street Revival and the very successful Kevin Macdonald's BAFTA winner,
Touching the Void, which has taken £2.3 million at the box office to date. The contact
for documentaries is Himesh Car.