On the Slate: Java Films and Shankly Productions

From a treacherous forced escape from North Korea to a voluntary journey across various continents on €5 a day: It's the latest projects from Java Films and Shankly Productions.
October 30, 2008

One might compare the harsh landscape of North Korea to that of a POW camp, and that’s certainly what the new documentary by French press agency Pallas Television is asserting. The Great Escape, named after the 1950 book by Paul Brickhill (and subsequent film) which tells the story of a group of men escaping from a German POW camp during WWII, tells a similar story of escape, but from a modern, timely perspective of people attempting the dangerous journey from North Korea to the South. The 52-minute doc follows a group of refugees as they travel through China to Bangkok. Anyone caught making this journey could be sent back to North Korea to work in labor camps, yet the people documented in this film are representative of many who are willing to risk anything for a taste of freedom. Made for Canal+, the doc, which was filmed over a year, just finished shooting this week and will begin post production in November.

With a much more light hearted voyage, Ultimate European Road follows thirty young strangers from 30 different countries who meet for the first time to travel Europe together in a bus. The experiment in this Shankly Productions project, coproduced with Skyscraper Productions, is to see how each person’s culture will clash as they travel the continent together. The first two episodes of the 13 x 30 minute series are in post production and Shankly hopes to have the final 11 completed in time for a NATPE premiere.

The most successful original production from Shankly Production, Amazing Adventures of a Nobody, continues with the third season which sees host Leon Logothetis travel from Paris to Moscow on an increibly low budget. In the new season Logothetis will be headed through Europe on just €5 a day, where again, he must rely on the kindness of strangers to get him across the continent. ‘It’s about my experiences interacting with people. How one moment I’m happy because everything’s going well and how the next I’m on the floor because everything’s not going well. I must say I’m a little bit melodramatic sometimes,’ says Logothetis about the show. ‘It’s basically an expose of humanity, human kindness and how people interact with me and how I interact with them.’ The show which currently airs on Fox and National Geographic International was recently purchased by OLN in Canada which will begin airing the third season in January. The producer’s distribution arm, Shankly International, is also planning to sell the program as a format, in a new move into the global format business.

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.