A 1.5 million Euros co-production between Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and France’s Gedeon Programmes was a highlight of MIPDoc 2018.
- The series: JAPAN FROM ABOVE.
- Executive Producers Shin Yasuda and Nicolas Deschamps shared their co-production process in my panel after the World-premiere screening.
- We expanded the key points into an informative Case Study covering a rare Japan/Europe production partnership.
Trailer for MIPDoc
- Nicolas shot a film in the Sendai region in 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
- After three weeks’ “capturing heart-rending stories amidst the muddy chaos on the ground, we decided to take a helicopter to get an overview of the region. Its beauty was stunning. I decided to launch a new project to pay tribute to the beauty of the landscape and to the Japanese themselves, particularly their resiliency.”
- “I was dreaming about a really positive series, far from the chaos, to be able to share a portrait of today’s Japan: inspiring, connected with long traditions, and enjoying a particular kind of humanity that the Japanese give to nature.”
- “I wanted a beautiful series, using the latest technical cameras, and based on a fruitful coproduction with a Japanese partner.”
- Nicolas soon moved to Gedeon, still pursuing this goal.
- He pitched the project to NHK in 2014.
NHK’s Response to Nicolas’s Pitch
- According to Shin Yasuda, the concept aligned with NHK’s plan to produce a variety of Japan-related programs in 4K leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
- Gedeon and NHK have more than a decade of history in co-productions.
- NHK had participated in the co-production of ON CITIES’ ROOFTOPS, working side-by-side with the French crew in filming the Tokyo episode.
- This successful collaboration became the model for team building in JAPAN FROM ABOVE.
- Also, Gedeon had a good track record of producing “from above” series in France.
- NHK saw that Gedeon’s remarkable aesthetics in aerial photography, combined with NHK’s resources and expertise, could give birth to a beautiful documentary about Japan.
- NHK provided researchers, directors, camera crew, and 4K aerial photography including drones and helicopters.
- 1.5 million Euros
- Five episodes, each focusing on a Japanese region.
- Covers the entire archipelago.
- Shot over four seasons.
- Unique 4K aerial footage.
- Seeking a delicate balance between storytelling and high-level shooting.
- NHK and Gedeon collaborated with NHK’s local stations and bureaus across Japan.
- Based on the information provided by local stations, the NHK team conducted recces all around Japan.
- They compiled a 150-page report outlining potential scenic locations and characters.
- The editorial choices were made through multiple meetings between NHK and Gedeon.
Key Copro Challenges Identified
- “Build a real French-Japanese crew.”
- “Keep the homogeneity of the series across 4 seasons of shooting.”
- ZDF / Arte came on board
- Key decision-makers were Marita Hübinger, Commissioning Editor, Head of Knowledge department; Petra Boden, Commissioning Editor.
- “JAPAN FROM ABOVE is an event production based on Gedeon’s know-how in coproduction, and with NHK who are recognized around the world for being at the forefront of shooting and broadcast technologies,” said Marita Hübinger.
- Fox Networks Group France / Voyage followed, led by Marika Puiseux, Programming Director.
- The Japan Foundation acquired invaluable sequences and footage for future films, promotions and presentations.
- Development: 5 years
- Pre-production: 1 year
- Production: 4 seasons
- 80 days for French crew
- 100 days for Japanese crew
- Post-production: 5 months
- 5 x 52 min: Aerial and Character Version, with ground shots and local characters
- 3 x 52 min: Full Aerial Version
- 1 x 90 min: Feature-length version
- Major broadcasters: ZDF Arte, Voyage
- Prebuys: RMC Decouverte, RTVS, TVP, Ceska TV, and LTV + RTVE
- Directed by Xavier Lefebvre
- Written by Laurent Martein
- Director photo: Jérôme Krumenacker, David Perrier
- Line Producer: Nicolas Deschamps
- Executive Producer: Stéphane Milliére
- Director: Shinji Iwata, Maaserhit Honda
- Camera: Hidekazu Takeuchi, Hirohisa Fujita, Yasuhiro Itokazu, Akiko Komagata, Seigo Saito, Hideo Harada, Isamu Osada
- Technical Coordinator: Kazu Kurimoto
- Data Manager: Tomohito Goshozono
- Logistics Manager: Mayuko Akashi
- Executive Producer: Shin Yasuda
- Sony a7sII + Atomos Shogun
- GopPro Hero 4 Black Edition + Hero 5
- SONY FDR-X3000
- DJI Ozmo
- Red Epic MX
- Panasonic GH5
- SONY a650
- Canon 1DX
- DJI Zenmuse X5R
- DJI Inspire1 + Inspire2
- DJI Mavic Pro
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro
- Successful co-pros are typically based on very particular circumstances and drivers.
- They arise from long-term relationships.
- The project perfectly aligned the French and Japanese partners’ editorial vision to showcase Japan’s natural and cultural beauty from above in 4K.
- Gedeon brought editorial and technical expertise that is relevant to the global market.
- This matched NHK’s desire to ensure that the series involved skill transfers that broadened the national broadcaster’s often inward-facing look.
More on NHK’s Blue Chip Productions
- NHK pursues big-budget Science projects that are central to its public service mission.
- NHK serves around 50 million Japanese TV homes.
- Read my detailed coverage of NHK’s $6.5 million COSMIC SHORE project.
Celebrating in Cannes
Public Television Case Studies: Ten Documentary Success Stories
DocumentaryBusiness.com interviewed dozens of executives, distributors and producers to create a unique proprietary snapshot about how to develop and deliver a successful documentary, factual or reality production.
- The Fidel Castro Tapes (PBS)
- The Rise Of The Killer Virus (Europe)
- In Ebola’s Wake
- Every Face Has a Name (Sweden)
- Dino Stampede (Australia)
- NHK’s $6.5 Million Cosmic Shore
- A Shot to Save the World
- Antiques Roadshow
- Letters from Baghdad
- Globe Trekker
- 50+ pages of detailed Research
- Compelling Takeaways to help you plan your Next Steps now
- Numerous links to trailers, websites, Kickstarter campaigns, and additional resources
- Distribution footprints: U.S. Cable & Satellite Channels
- Network Audience: U.S. Average Prime Time (factual channels) 2017
- And much more!
My Upcoming Markets & Conferences
- INPUT (International Public Television Conference)
- Brooklyn. April 30-May 4
- My panel: “Financing Independent Production for Public Television”
- SUNNY SIDE OF THE DOC
- La Rochelle, France. June 25-28
- NEWF: Nature, Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers Congress
- Durban, South Africa. July 16-18