Uncovering history
January 1, 2006

Uncovering history
History buffs, don’t miss this one: In what may be the last major film before many World War One sites are lost to encroaching of industry, Digging Up the Trenches is a two-hour HD special from Toronto’s Cream Productions in association with History Television (Canada), the Military Channel (US), History (UK) and Spiegel TV (Germany).

Chronicling an extensive dig commissioned by the Belgian government around Ypres, the film captures the work of archeologists as they use sophisticated mapping technology to target two stretches of German and Allied lines running opposite each other. Buried below meters of earth, excavations have already revealed rich artifacts and the remains of soldiers of the Great War.

Ready for the end of June, the project carries a budget of about US$700,000. BC

Model moms
NY’s Engel Entertainment just wrapped a huge project guaranteed to find a home on many dials globally. Runway Moms is a 20 x 30-minute series for Discovery Health in the US that profiles the women at Expecting Models – the only modeling agency in the world that caters to pregnant models. As the producers note, having a baby is hard enough, but it’s ‘nearly impossible to do when your job is being gorgeous.’ The series will premiere at the end of December, and will then roll out to a thrice-daily slot on the net. Reveille is distributing outside the US, Latin America and the UK. Each ep runs from US$70,000 to $80,000. BC

Of the 43 docs presented at the 13th annual Forum in Amsterdam (Nov. 28 to 30), realscreen‘s Kimberley Brown picks the three most likely to succeed:

Recipes for disaster
Swapping oil for burgers, Recipes for Disaster is Super Size Me for the suburban eco warrior. Like Morgan Spurlock, director John Webster is handsome and charismatic, with a rye sense of humor. He’s also turning his life upside down to purge his daily routine of oil consumption and oil-based products. Anything packaged in plastic is off limits. Gasoline is a no-no. However, unlike Spurlock’s 30-day adventure, Webster is trying to make a permanent change. Finnish pubcaster YLE TV2 has already committed €50,000 (US$58,500) of the 52- to 90-minute film’s £350,000 ($605,000) budget. Look for Nurmes, Finland-based Oy Millennium Film to deliver Recipes by December, 2007. KB

Dance with a Serial Killer
Jean-François Abgrall, the French policeman responsible for capturing France’s most notorious serial killer, Francis Heaulmes, made an appearance at the Forum for Lone Star Productions‘ pitch of the feature-length doc Dance with a Serial Killer. Abgrall, who recounted the case in the best-selling In the Mind of a Killer, will narrate this thriller, which will use dramatic sequences and interviews with witnesses and the victims’ families to bring the story of Heaulmes’ capture to life. The London prodco has the support of the BBC and will deliver this December. The budget is about £255,000 (US$390,000). KB

Last battle of milk bar
A film about a traditional lunch bar in Poland hardly sounds like a potential hit, but footage of the doc’s main characters – the restaurant’s chain-smoking owner Danuta Juz and her stubborn assistant Dzidka – left little doubt that WG Film‘s The Last Battle of Milk Bar could capture audiences around the world.

Danuta took over the restaurant (aka milk bar) after the fall of Communism in Poland in 1989. Once part of the popular Spolem chain – Poland’s McDonald’s – Danuta’s Bar Bywalec in Wroclaw is now one of the last of its kind, and acts as a bridge between the past and present.

Shot over one year, the doc promises to be a witty and insightful living portrait of the friction between old and new economies. The Swedish prodco is backed by YLE Teema in Finland and Sweden’s SVT. The production budget is about £200,000 (US$346,500). Milk Bar will deliver in October, 2006. KB

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.