London lowdown: TVF International

Elizabeth Radshaw, head of acquisitions
October 1, 2007

Elizabeth Radshaw, head of acquisitions
Kate Ward, sales and marketing executive

What has changed in the non-fiction industry over the past 10 years?
Radshaw: What hasn’t changed is the appetite for non-fiction. We’re selling content into places that we never sold to before, whether it be Eastern Europe or Latin or South America.

Ward: In terms of deals in the last year, one of the key things that’s changed is producers are a bit less freaked out about having their programs online. With non-fiction, the Internet is about accessibility and re-inventing the niche. With docs, you can bring back to life loads of great content, which is an exhilarating thing.

How do you think the industry will change over the next 10 years?
Ward: We’re trying to transition between the very much Website-based services and traditional TV, where the Internet and online are going to combine with the characteristic TV viewing experience where you’re on your sofa with a remote control. The technology is coming to make that happen.

Radshaw: In distribution, we’re totally switching to hd. In 2008, we’re starting with wildlife, travel and beauty programs, with the aim to be fully taking HD acquisitions by the end of 2008 because it’s the direction in which broadcasters are going. And I think commissioners are taking that in stride and money will trickle down to help producers make the change if it hasn’t already happened.

What does the term ‘viewership trust’ mean to you and why is it important?
Radshaw: As long as you’re clear with your agenda for the program upfront, whether it be something that’s partially scripted or a show that’s prompted, I think all styles of non-fiction can exist on TV. You’ve got to make viewers aware – whether that means a disclaimer at the beginning of your show, or that your show is marketed appropriately – that what they’re watching may not be 100% [the full truth]. Otherwise you’re not being a documentary or factual filmmaker, you’re using drama that you’re hiding. If you own up to it, that’s fine. If you don’t, then that’s a trust issue.

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