Royal Wedding & Better Baking: Best British Factual, 2018. The Top 200

The “Best of British” is one of my more popular posts. I list the year’s highest-rated unscripted programs, usually to honor UK producers in time for their PACT party at Realscreen. For a different look at 2018, I combined the Documentary, Factual, Lifestyle & Current Affairs categories, showing the best single episode for series. It’s …

Sundance and the Single Documentary Economy: The $1.3 Billion Cost of Missing Out

The documentary niche has remarkable financial scale, as measured by the films seeking selection at Sundance. Let’s assume that the average production cost of all 2,649 Sundance submissions for 2019 is $500,000. Actual budgets range from around $200,000 up to $5+ million. $500K is a conservative average. Production Cost: 2,600 documentaries were “Not Accepted” in 2019. The …


Lifetime’s Hit Docuseries Surviving R. Kelly Busts Through Our Netflix Fixation

Surviving R. Kelly is a timely reminder that a well-told docuseries can ignite a popular conversation, even if its not on Netflix. The three-night, six-hour Lifetime series features multiple women who say they were sexually abused by the singer.  Many of them were minors when they met the “Pied Piper of R&B”. Trailer: Audience Surviving R. …

Trends in the Arts Documentary Category. A Podcast with Dr Reiner Moritz, Veteran Distributor & Producer

Today’s podcast guest from Munich is DR REINER MORITZ. Our topic: Trends in the Arts Category, including Performances and Documentaries about the Arts. Reiner Moritz is a highly-regarded industry veteran. Dimitri Shostakovitch, Ann Sophie Mutter, Peter Brook, Herbert von Karajan, Robert Hughes… He has been a friend and associate with more great artists, orchestras, broadcasters …

The Rise of Netflix Increases Pressures on Producers. My Big Takeaways for 2018

Here are my key Takeaways for 2018. It was the year in which Netflix accelerated its challenge to the entire film and television eco-system, with the Amazon behemoth adding to the disruptive force of online video. 1.Channels Under Threat. Factual commissions boomed since the mid-Eighties. A tiny documentary market exploded into the global Unscripted industry …

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 …

Distributing Documentaries & Non-fiction Programs. A Podcast with Ludo Dufour, Off The Fence’s MD for Sales & Copro’s

Ludo Dufour is the Managing Director, Sales & Co-Productions for OFF THE FENCE, the leading independent non-fiction specialist based in Amsterdam. We connected last June in Durban at NEWF, that super-exciting African conference linking Conservation and Filmmaking. I was taken by Ludo’s presentation on the nuts and bolts of financing and distributing quality documentaries and unscripted programs. …

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 …