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Letter From London: Mark Atkin Crosses Over

As SBS Australia's Commissioning Editor for TV and online for a decade Mark Atkin played a key role in a number of acclaimed films, including Taxi to the Dark Side and Waltz with Bashir. Upon leaving SBS in November, Atkin wasted no time getting involved with new projects. Within a week he was in the Sheffield Doc/Fest MeetMarket, having meetings every twenty minutes - this time as a producer and exec producer for three international documentaries.
December 15, 2008

As SBS Australia’s Commissioning Editor for TV and online for a decade Mark Atkin played a key role in a number of acclaimed films, including Taxi to the Dark Side and Waltz with Bashir. Upon leaving SBS in November, Atkin wasted no time getting involved with new projects. Within a week he was in the Sheffield Doc/Fest MeetMarket, having meetings every twenty minutes – this time as a producer and exec producer for three international documentaries.

He says that the change in position has forced him to ‘turn the kaleidescope around’ and narrow his focus: ‘The biggest difference is I used to be incredibly profligate. My attention was spread out over a hundred thousand things in a day. Now it’s focused on these three projects. It’s kind of wonderful because you get to just work on stuff that you find absolutely creatively compelling.’

His projects include a personal film, where Atkin aims to try to unearth a treasure his grandfather buried in Lodz at the outbreak of World War II. The other two films are lighter fare: The Secret History of the Eurovision Song Contest, about the search for a collective European identity and how it has been expressed through the Eurovision song contest, and Breaking China: The Making of a Western Mandopop Girl Band, which will aim to take a group of Western girls who are fluent in Mandarin, and launch them in China.

He’s also joined forces with Doc/Fest director Heather Croall and Frank Boyd of Unexpected Media to create a company, Crossover Labs, which specializes in offering workshops to bring creative professionals from different disciplines together to collaborate on cross-platform projects.

While it is still early days, he is thus far happy with his move away from the commissioner’s chair: ‘It’s funny – when you go to a market as a commissioning editor, you go with an empty bag and come back with a full one. When you go there as a producer you go with a full bag and try to empty it. The thing I’ll miss most is sitting around with my colleagues having dinner chatting about the industry. But at least I don’t have to worry that somebody is going to follow me down to the toilet and start pitching to me – I’ve lost that haunted look.’

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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