Far from wanting filmmakers to disappear behind a corporate logo, Intelligent Television – a new company launched by former TV Books president Peter Kaufman – hopes to put them front and center. ‘This company is really interested in making producers the celebrities,’ explains Kaufman. ‘I think it’s really important to elevate producers to the point that an underwriter or an advertiser is thinking ‘Wow, I have the opportunity to meet that guy.”
New York’s Intelligent Television will venture well beyond the TV Books remit by helping producers take advantage of every opportunity available to them in the ancillary spectrum: publishing, video, music, radio, online and wireless products, interactive tv, games, exhibitions, and merchandising. Kaufman says it’s all about ‘bringing producers directly together with sources of support, because they are the artisans.’ One of the company’s first clients is Ted Turner Documentaries.
Kaufman will have support from Jeff Peisch (Time Life Video, Sony) and others who will become involved as their particular expertise is called for. For this reason and others, Kaufman recommends producers approach as early as possible into development, in order to ‘see for themselves what opportunities exist for their ancillary rights, so that they can protect and keep them.’ Intelligent Television offers clients consulting services for a flat fee, through to full-on representation for a fee plus a percentage once revenue targets are achieved.
Kaufman sees opportunities despite the recent bumps in the economy. ‘I think the money – i.e. within corporations, within foundations, and within [other] organizations – is responding pretty well to branding opportunities and to underwriting opportunities on quality television… I think all media has taken a lump or two, but the opportunity for different media to cross merchandise something that is led by television is pretty exciting.’
Rather than act as slaves to market conditions, Kaufman believes producers can have more say in their destiny, a lesson he recalls was brought home when Mark Burnett pitched TV Books the companion books for Survivor. Says Kaufman, ‘I think the lesson from Survivor is that a producer with passion can successfully sell intellectual property.’