Current TV delves into long-form

Current TV in the UK is expanding into long-form documentaries. Realscreen spoke with Lina Prestwood, creative executive VC2 UK, about the next step for the channel and what it means for producers.
September 23, 2009

Current TV in the UK is expanding into long-form documentaries. Realscreen spoke with Lina Prestwood, creative executive VC2 UK, about the next step for the channel, airing on Sky and Virgin Media, and what it means for producers.

What is the new documentary block about?
Every Monday night Current is going to be aiming to have really strong documentary, really compelling and really exciting. We want Monday nights to be the home of high-end documentary on Current, but that doesn’t mean that Tuesday or Wednesday are going to be soft [laughs]. Where we’d traditionally been looking for short-form documentaries from new producers, we’re now actually looking for longer form content of half an hour and even up to an hour. It’s something our producers have always been pushing for. It’s still a home for new emerging talent and the opportunities are just longer, I suppose.

What sort of content are you looking for?
We’ve got our autumn schedule locked and everything we’re now looking at is for 2010. We’re going to be at Sheffield Doc/Fest with a live pitching panel. This year we’re focusing on current affairs pieces and I’ve carved out a chunk of my budget to be current affairs, but the others that we’re looking to commission for 2010 can be authored films, lighter journey films, [or] mission docs. If they want to be current affairs in the old-fashioned sense, whatever interpretation producers choose to pitch to us is fine but then we’ve got a section of investigative journalism and current affairs.

What is the mandate for the doc block?
Audacious, authored and authentic. We’ll be looking at finding great emerging documentary talent, and again those three buzzwords are the key going forward in the Monday night in 2010.

Is this slot open to all producers?
Absolutely. At the moment I’m focusing on current affairs and the more investigative journalism, which we haven’t had as much of yet – now that we’re getting into the long-form stuff we’re in a position to be able to do longer pieces.

What do producers need to know?
For the Sheffield current affairs pieces, the deadline is October 16. They need to go into where they’ll have a very specific brief as to what we want for the half-hour current affairs pieces. Otherwise, looking at commissioning overall, what we want are intelligent, relevant pitches. It doesn’t necessarily have to be youth television, as long as it is very current and looking to the future and what’s going on, not a retrospective story. That’s something that’s very key for us, that they can show us rather than tell us. As long as it feels very pertinent to the young intelligent UK audience, I want to hear their stories. And it doesn’t matter if it’s their first [project] or their 10th.

How do producers submit?
The best way is to contact me directly at and also provides some information for producers. Traditionally at Current we’ve looked at short-form as being a great opportunity to make their first documentaries and I think now what we’re providing is their next level opportunity. We’re looking at around £5,000 for the half hour mark, [and] that’s all negotiable…depending on the idea.

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