Happy Holidays!

Dear Friends & Colleagues, It’s been a fascinating year to report on the online video tsunami that is restructuring our industry. As the New Year approaches, we often feel that Netflix and Amazon Prime in particular are changing everything, and at an accelerating rate… I hope that my analysis of the emerging ecosystem for documentary and unscripted programs helps you …

Letters from Baghdad: A Case Study of an Archive-based Documentary With a $1.2 Mn Budget

Letters From Baghdad is a beautiful documentary that uncovers the story of British adventurer, diplomat and Arabist, Gertrude Bell. (Republished December 11, 2018 to mark the PBS premiere. Original publication: 6/6/2017) Filmmakers Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl reveal the struggles of a brilliant, lone woman in an all-male world. Their research uncovered a largely forgotten but mesmerizing film …


The Development History of NATIVE AMERICA, a $3-4 million Signature PBS Series. A Case Study

NATIVE AMERICA is a premium PBS series that explores the world created by America’s first peoples. It describes their foundational belief systems that synthesize science and spirituality. The 4-part series captures the incredible diversity of the expressions of these beliefs across North, Central and South America. Providence Pictures’ President and Executive Producer/Director, Gary Glassman was preparing …

Ken Burns’ ‘The Vietnam War’ Triples PBS’s Primetime Average

‘The Vietnam War’ from Ken Burns & Lynn Novick earned a hit-level PBS audience. This post on the 18-hour, $30 million ‘Vietnam’ series wraps up my coverage of PBS’s impressive factual ratings. (Read below my personal take on ‘Vietnam’ that is based on my eyewitness experience in wartime Laos as a 22 year old researcher / reporter …

PBS History Programming: Audience & Pipeline. Top 5

This post continues my coverage of the PBS audience for History and Science for delegates attending WCSFP Congress in San Francisco. The focus here is on the strands American Experience, American Masters and Secrets of the Dead. Also profiled are the highest-rated PBS History specials and limited series outside the strands. Next post: The Vietnam War. …

ARCHIVE VALLEY: FASTER, EASIER & MORE COST-EFFECTIVE RESEARCH & LICENSING. FREE ACCESS OFFER

Archive Valley is an innovative online platform that gives documentary filmmakers convenient access to fresh archive footage sources and to top archive researchers worldwide. This new efficient archive research solution is online, and Archive Valley encourages you to take advantage of free access to our Beta platform! Our Mission Archive Valley’s goal is to make it faster, …

Princess Diana: The Archive Wave. Or Wars?

Nat Geo Channel today announced the September premiere of Diana: In Her Own Words. It’s the latest in a series of network specials timed for the 20th anniversary of Diana’s passing. Here is NGC’s powerful trailer: No Narration: The program is created in the “no narration /cinematic” style that is bringing the archive back into …

Sunny Side Takeaway #2: “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week”. Fab 4 Archive Case Study

A highlight of Sunny Side 2017 was my Archive Masterclass on Grammy and Focal Award winner THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK. The stars of our standing-room-only panel were Apple Corps executive producer Jonathan Clyde and Matthew White who originated the concept to create an archive-based film about Beatlemania. Takeaways About the archive… Home movie footage related to …