After four years of apparent success, the production arm of London-based film archive British Pathe has shut down. According to Andrew Goodsir, former commercial director of British Pathe Productions, the company has decided to re-focus its attention on the archive.
‘A straight commercial decision was made that in order for the business to grow and succeed in the 21st century, [the archive] needed to be digitized,’ Goodsir says. ‘It’s a very expensive, time-consuming process to actually go through the cataloguing and digitization. And that has been supported by its owners, the Daily Mail General Trust Group.’
In BPP’s wake, Goodsir has launched his own prodco devoted primarily to historical docs, called AGI. ‘Effectively, I’m almost the production arm of British Pathe,’ he says. ‘I’ve taken out the production and distribution of the programming, including the old catalogue, and set up a new business.’
Since AGI’s inception in October (‘The first day I was running my business was the first day of MIP,’ Goodsir says), the prodco has been busy working on three new projects. A Century of Royals, which focuses on the British royal family throughout the twentieth century, and A Century of London, which looks at the capital city’s development, have both been developed without coproduction partners as products available for acquisition. Each is a one-hour special budgeted at around £100,000.
The third project, Battle of Britain (w/t), is currently in development while Goodsir negotiates with an unnamed German broadcaster. He says his aim is to ‘include pictures from the German archive and also interviews,’ but until the deal is nailed down, he won’t be able to settle on a format or budget.
Goodsir, who remains an ongoing consultant to British Pathe, has signed a deal to access the films in the BP library. Both Century programs relied heavily on the archives, and ultimately include ‘lots of rarely seen, and in some cases never seen, footage from way back to the beginning of the century,’ he says. The archive’s collection dates from 1896 to 1970.
In terms of plans for 2000, Goodsir has an eye on the natural health genre. ‘We’ve recently acquired the rights to a book publishing house called Element, which is the market leader in natural living publications, everything from organic foods to meditation to yoga to natural remedies and therapies. And in the year 2000, we’ll be rolling out a production/distribution company dedicated to programming in this area.’
Goodsir’s instincts are right on target, as the entry of two new U.K. health channels – Flextech’s Living Health and Granada Media’s Good Health – will likely increase demand for health shows.