While an old proverb might advise ‘No road is long with good company,’ long-term relationships are hard to maintain, especially between producers and broadcasters. Realscreen checked in with some filmmakers to see how they handle them.
If Zig Zag Productions md Danny Fenton seems to know a lot about a commissioning editor’s hobbies, it’s all part of the job. In addition to researching potential broadcaster schedules and slots, the uk producer also digs deep to uncover a CE’s personal interests outside of tv, which he says can speak to program-making decisions.
Of course, relationships aren’t always smooth – potential sales are often at jeopardy when discussions turn to regionalization. ‘Broadcasters can insist on a version that isn’t adaptable internationally,’ he says. There’s also the misunderstanding about distribution funding during copros. Fenton says nets often think the distribution money can be used as part of the budget. ‘This is an advance which is recoupable, and often isn’t received in full until the program is made,’ he says.
The solution Fenton offers is to help find the copro money for the broadcaster. He’s been able to introduce execs to their equals in other territories to make copros happen.
Pilot Productions head of sales Lucy Hockey keeps abreast of what’s happening at broadcasters in order to seal the deal as early as possible. Hockey stays in touch, and when interest is piqued, sends a full screener of the first episode. It enables the net to schedule and broadcast immediately upon delivery.
But what happens when several broadcasters are interested in the same show? Hockey leans on established relationships, preferring channels that have acquired product previously.
For both established and burgeoning partnerships, however, she says there is a lot of confusion about rights and fees. ‘Many satellite and cable channels also want VOD or IPTV as part of their pay-TV rights,’ she says.
Her request of broadcasters is that they not play it safe. She wishes nets could buy more out of their comfort zone and try different types of shows. She also thinks a program’s success in another territory should speak louder during the negotiations.