On the Slate: 44 Blue, WGBH & MFF

From polygamists to the Middle East to the US presidential election, it's the latest in reality, documentary and IMAX projects from 44 Blue Productions, WGBH and MacGillivray Freeman Films.
August 28, 2008

Underdawgz, car chases and lost boys

Warren Jeffs and his polygamist sect has been the subject of many special reports and TV docs, but Rasha Drachkovitch’s crew at 44 Blue Productions took a different approach to this story. For Lost Boys they followed a group of six teenage boys who were kicked out of the community for breaking the laws of the church. The prodco currently has 40 hours of film of the boys in their day-to-day lives, including the trial of one who was convicted of murder after being kicked out of the community. 44 Blue is currently looking for a distributor and a broadcaster for Lost Boys which will be wrapped by mid-October and cost roughly $250,000 for the hour.

The Studio City based prodco will also be filming the second season of Stringers LA for TruTV this fall. Stringers is a 6×30 series that looks a bit like Cops, but instead of following police it follows the camera teams who battle to capture car chases, shoot outs and other breaking news. The series, produced in association with Buena Vista Television, just debuted its first season on TruTV. The prodco also has a pilot going out on Animal Planet this November. The Underdawgz follows a woman who employs parolees to run the largest pitbull rescue in the world. ‘It’s kind of a dogusoap,’ says Drachkovitch. ‘Animal Planet’s getting away from the soft and furry stuff so they want edge. Ex-cons and pitbulls can’t be edgier.’

Hugo Chavez and the US presidential election

No, they don’t have anything to do with each other, except that WGBH has a few docs on those subjects coming out this fall.

‘As the religious right moved toward the center the democrats rushed to embrace them.’ This is the tagline Cal Skaggs, producer for Lumiere Productions, says most accurately describes Whatever Happened to the Religious Right (w/t). ‘The Democrats have been thought of by conservative evangelicals as the Godless party,’ he says. So the fact that they are meeting with democrats, listening to them, and some will vote for Barack Obama this fall, is a completely new thing in American politics. When Skaggs went into this project, he didn’t think he would get access to the faith committees on the campaign, but he did because he promised the film wouldn’t come out before November 4. The film was commissioned by Channel 4 and will air on November 15, but it is still looking for an American home.

WGBH has two more docs about the presidential campaign, one called The Choice 2008 which examines the candidates through in-depth biographies, and The Race 2008 which, partnered with Newsweek magazine, provides a look at the conflicts, relationships, twists and turns behind the campaign. Both 120-minute docs will air on PBS’ Frontline, The Choice 2008 in October and The Race 2008 in November.

Heading away from the US to Venezuelan politics, The Hugo Chavez Show (w/t) directed by Ofra Bikel, will focus on the critic of US foreign policy and his controversial legacy as President of Venezuela. The hour-long doc runs on Frontline in November.

Van Gogh and the Middle East

Moving onto the big, big screen, Laguna Beach-based MacGillivray Freeman Films brings the art of Van Gogh to IMAX. The 40-minute film was filmed in 15/70mm in France and the Netherlands and is told through the artist’s eyes and based on over 900 personal letters. Van Gogh: Brush With Genius is distributed by Caméra Lucida and La Géode and will be released worldwide on February 9, 2009. The large format prodco also has a doc on the history, culture and religion of the Middle East called Arabia set for release in January 2010.

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.