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Phil Fairclough: Hands On

In an apparent lapse of sanity on the Academy's part, Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man failed to make this year's Oscar doc shortlist, but that hasn't affected Phil Fairclough's fervor for the film. He was the one to bring it to Discovery - and also act as an executive producer on it - during his role as svp of production at Discovery Channel US.
March 1, 2006

In an apparent lapse of sanity on the Academy’s part, Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man failed to make this year’s Oscar doc shortlist, but that hasn’t affected Phil Fairclough’s fervor for the film. He was the one to bring it to Discovery – and also act as an executive producer on it – during his role as SVP of production at Discovery Channel US.

In his post at Discovery, he oversaw the production group – which was responsible for more than 900 original hours per year – and supervised several hit series, including Mythbusters and American Chopper.

But eventually, says Fairclough, he had to choose between climbing the executive ladder and getting back into hands-on production. ‘And, frankly, I felt I was missing the creative coalface,’ he says.

So, in December, Fairclough left Discovery and started at Creative Differences, an LA prodco that recently expanded to Vancouver, as well as Washington, DC. The latter is known as Creative Differences East, and is the facility Fairclough intends to grow as evp of production and development.

While Creative Differences is best known for its factual TV shows, such as Unsolved History, it also produced Grizzly Man, and Fairclough is eager to delve further into theatrical ventures. He’d also like to bring a us edge to the UK factual marketplace, which he says still stereotypes us programming. ‘America is not perceived as a powerhouse of great factual production, which I think is a mistake.

‘It’s always struck me as bizarre that there’s no significant traffic in the factual world going east across the Atlantic,’ he continues. How exactly Creative Differences attempts to better balance this flow is not yet final: it may form an alliance with an existing UK co, or it may exploit Fairclough’s UK experience to essentially open a production arm there.

The company is already comfortable working over borders. The staff used internet video conferencing while making Everything You Need To Know About (w/t), the first series Fairclough is producing for Creative Differences. While pre-production took place in Washington, dc, post is happening in LA. The 13 x 1-hour series is being produced for a broadcaster with which Fairclough is quite familiar: Discovery Channel US.

About The Author
Meagan Kashty is an associate editor of realscreen, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Meagan is an award-winning business journalist. Prior to joining the realscreen team, Meagan was online editor of Canadian Grocer, named Magazine of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Business Media Awards. She can be reached at mkashty@brunico.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @MegKashty

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