Alex Graham, managing director, London-based prodco Wall to Wall
Predictions: I think we’ll see the ongoing squeezing of the middle-of-the-range documentary. There will be more money available for the really big, really innovative projects, though there will be fewer of them, and then a lot of lower cost stuff fitted in around it. The exciting area for me is where factual programming and entertainment collide. In the U.S. market, I think we’ll see the gap between the networks and cable stations close, with the networks experimenting more freely with different kinds of programming.
Wish list: A U.S. network production deal, a clear explanation of the BBC commissioning structure, and for Wall to Wall to still be around in 12 months time.
Jonathan Stack, director of The Farm, New York-based Gabriel Films
Predictions: The need for content is only going to grow in the future, and while there’s an extremely limited pool of quality fiction, reality itself is infinite.
Wish list: A time when storytellers can reach their audience without having to go through the filter of television’s gatekeepers.
Rob Fiveson, executive in charge of production, Jones Entertainment Group in Washington, D.C.
Predictions: In general, I think it could be a year that holds both more opportunities (i.e. the expanded digital world in Canada and increased penetration of DBS) – but at the same time it could dilute the revenues as subscriber bases are diluted.
Wish list: I wish the networks would realize that this is how people make their living and many of us cannot wait two to five years to recoup; that the U.S. would adopt a support system for the industry like Canada’s – but with shorter lead times to funding; that PBS would issue a colored string and a GPS system to producers so we can actually find the right person to speak to; that certain special interests would stop trying to push High Def TV up my nose and start reading the newspaper (it ain’t happening folks!); and that Avid output would be recognized as every bit as good for final product as an analog online.
Rob Harvey, producer, Bristol-based Partridge Films/United Productions
Predictions: I think we’ll be looking for more presenters in wildlife programs, presenters with a unique edge who will appeal to American and British, and hopefully global, audiences. Also, I think a lot of natural history producers will feel encouraged to adopt a more journalistic approach.
Wish list: I hope fisherman around the world follow a U.S. initiative and adopt a device for their nets, which would allow inadvertantly trapped turtles to escape. And on a personal note, I desperately want a frilled dragon (though I don’t think I’ll get one till my daughter is older).