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UK Factual Hits: The Sizzling Sixty for 2015

2016 January 29
by Peter Hamilton

Publishing the ‘Best UK Factual’ each January makes me wish for just a moment that I had left Melbourne in 1981 for an up-and-coming Brit ‘hood like Glasgow instead of Brooklyn. Maybe not quite so much this year. Let’s see why. Bake Off The Great British Bake Off was a huge, super-hit with more than […]

In Ebola’s Wake: Case Study of a High-risk, Fast Turnaround Documentary

2016 January 27
by Peter Hamilton

In Fall 2014, producer Antje Boehmert was in post-production with Berlin-based director Carl Gierstorfer on Rise of the Killer Virus, a medical detective story on the pre-history of HIV. The team closely followed the breaking news on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Carl began to look for opportunities to cover the story. His research went into […]

Nat Geo Takes The Archive Global. Case Study: ‘Challenger Disaster: The Lost Tapes’

2016 January 22
by Peter Hamilton

The archive continues to power primetime signature shows. But it takes imagination to find the topics, and the undiscovered ‘jewels’ in the archive that can tell stories in a fresh way and at an affordable cost. This week’s Case Study is Nat Geo’s Challenger Disaster: The Lost Tapes from Peabody Award winner Tom Jennings Productions. […]

Al Jazeera America Closes. Other Quality Channels That Folded

2016 January 14
by Peter Hamilton

Al Jazeera America’s closure is a sad moment for the documentary community. AJ’s documentary team led by Diana El-Osta and Cynthia Kane has supported quality films that are finding fewer slots elsewhere in the North American channels landscape. In fact, we were working this week with AJA on a Case Study of an important documentary […]

Amazon Launches Documentary & Lifestyle Channels: The Streaming Partners Program Explained

2016 January 3
by Peter Hamilton

The giant Internet merchant Amazon unveiled a package of 31 online subscription channels. The bouquet includes CuriosityStream, led by Discovery founder John Hendricks. Other documentary, factual and lifestyle channels are in the bouquet. The Streaming Partners Program (SPP) is an initiative that threatens to add more disruption to the media eco-system. It creates new opportunities […]

David Attenborough’s U-Boat Explores the Great Barrier Reef for BBC1

2015 December 29
by Peter Hamilton

David Attenborough is featured on BBC1 this week diving in a Triton submarine to capture magical sequences on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This story flags several questions about the direction of the Wildlife genre: Kit Wars? Will costly kit like the Triton edge out the legendary patience and expertise of the wildlife cinematographer as the key success factor for […]

Five Takeaways from Guangzhou Doc Fest 2015 / Asian Side of the Doc 2016 Announced

2015 December 20
by Peter Hamilton

By Bill Graff. Market Format: More of a Festival/Seminar than a market. Around 20 Exhibitors, mostly municipal or regional film commissions, as well as footage and translation companies aimed at the filmmakers. Formal pitching sessions daily, with comments from Chinese and International commissioning editors, distributors and other experts as to the quality of each pitch […]

Harry Butler: The Aussie Talent Who Helped Build Discovery Off the Backs of Snakes and Lizards

2015 December 16
by Peter Hamilton

We read last week that Australian conservationist Harry Butler had passed away in Perth. He is a largely forgotten but breakout talent who helped propel Discovery from battling startup to global giant. Discovery Channel was then searching for its identity and brand, as it struggled to make payroll from week to week. It’s hard to imagine, but […]