News in Brief

Discovery reconsiders credits; Hot Docs and TDF heat up; Canada's National Film Board seeks international copro partners.
May 2, 2002

Discovery Networks has softened its credit roll-back stance. Instead of insisting that producers remove the majority of production credits from their traditional place at the end of a program and migrate them online to the website – as was originally proposed – the Bethesda, U.S.-based company announced this week that it will let program-makers decide whether they want to adopt this new policy. If producers choose not to, they will be allowed to run closing credits as they do currently. For those who opt for the new plan, Discovery will permit a limited number of front-end credits, the production company logo at the end of the program and a limited number of ‘special thanks’ cards on air, in addition to listing fuller credit info online.

Several organizations, including the International Documentary Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, had expressed concern over Discovery’s proposal to scale back on-air credits. Academy chairman Bryce Zabel said Discovery’s decision to at least offer producers a choice, ‘paid respect to the value those credits have for those who receive them.’

The ninth edition of Toronto festival Hot Docs (which runs until May 5) is enjoying a good week, attracting 1,542 registered industry delegates, including 149 buyers. Screenings (104 documentaries in total, including a dozen world premieres) have pulled in full or near-full houses so far, while organized panel discussions have evoked spirited debate on a wide range of topics, from how to define ‘true’ documentary (an issue more relevant to producers seeking precious dollars from federal funding bodies than broadcasters) to how to find a good distributor. The cocktail parties – enhanced by the contributions of sponsor Absolut Vodka – have been an equally big hit.

At the third annual Toronto Documentary Forum (May 1 and 2), several commissioning editors have indicated they are in a giving mood. Canadian producer Elida Schogt, of Wandering Tulip Productions, won commitments from Nick Fraser of BBC ‘Storyville’ and Outi Saarikoski of Finnish pubcaster YLE2 following the pitch for her film Zero: Musing on Nothing, while Welsh filmmaker Dyfrig Jones – who won the chance to pitch by tossing his card into the ‘Mountie’s hat’ – peaked interest around the table for his project that looks at British transgender author Jan Morris and parallels between her life and the collapse of the British empire. Approximately 85 broadcasters and financiers registered for this year’s forum.

Canada’s National Film Board, which recently established an International Coproduction Unit, is working to add French broadcasters France 5 and France 2 to its roster of development and coproduction partners. Documentary, animation and drama programs are all on the NFB’s agenda. Partners already on board include ARTE France and LARK International (a consortium of four PBS stations: KCTS Seattle, KUHT Houston, KETC St. Louis and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications).

ITV Digital switched off its pay-TV channels yesterday and the firm is set for liquidation.

The Film Council in the U.K. has set up four funds totalling £17 million (US$25 million) to help foster support and interest in independent film, the BBC News reports.

The National Endowment for the Humanities in the U.S. has new deadlines for media grant applications: November 1, 2002, for planning, scripting and production and April 7, 2003, for consultation grants. NEH has eliminated its February 1 deadline as well as the second deadline in September for consultation grants. For guidelines and application instructions, visit

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.