Docs

Industry notes on ’09

At the end of 2009 realscreen sent out a questionnaire to members of the non-fiction industry asking for opinions on everything from the best programs to the guiltiest pleasures and major trends from the last year and the past decade. Here we publish some responses from the UK: Pulse Films' MD Thomas Benski; Darlow Smithson EP Viv McGrath; Icon Films' development producer Inge Samuels and Pioneer Productions' head of development Jeremy Dear.
January 14, 2010

At the end of 2009 realscreen sent out a questionnaire to members of the non-fiction industry asking for opinions on everything from the best programs to the guiltiest pleasures and major trends from the last year and the past decade. Here we publish some responses from the UK: Pulse Films’ MD Thomas Benski; Darlow Smithson EP Viv McGrath; Icon Films’ development producer Inge Samuels and Pioneer Productions’ head of development Jeremy Dear. Yes, some of the picks came from 2008 and not 2009 (hello, Man on Wire), but see below to find out what these respondents thought of some of the past year’s factual offerings.

What was your favorite documentary film of 2009?
Thomas Benski: Billy the Kid. I know it was made last year [2008], [but] what a simple but great film!
Viv McGrath: The Chosen
Inge Samuels: Man on Wire [also not from 2009, but we'll let it slide]
Jeremy Dear: Howard Jacobson’s film on Jesus the Jew, C4 [part of Christianity: A History]

What are your top three documentaries of the past decade?
TB: Man on Wire, Fog of War, Grizzly Man
VM: Touching the Void, Falling Man, The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off
IS: Man on Wire, Touching the Void, Miracle of the Hudson
JD: Man on Wire, The Day the Earth Was Born, Touching the Void

What was your favorite non-fiction/fact ent series of the past year?
TB: Banged Up Abroad
VM: Can Gerry Robinson Fix Dementia Care Homes?/ Last Man Standing
IS: Who Do You Think You Are?
JD: Secret Millionaire

What are your top three favorite non-fiction/fact ent series of the past 10 years?
TB: Secret Millionaire, Shipwrecked, Ross Kemp on…
VM: Blue Planet, Testing God, Tribe (Bruce Parry) / The Apprentice, Faking it, Baby Borrowers
IS: Who Do You Think You Are?; Dragon’s Den; The Apprentice
JD: Secret Millionaire

What has been your favorite film and/or TV ‘guilty pleasure’ from the past year (can be non-fiction or scripted)?
TB: The Good Food Channel!
VM: Mad Men
IS: Mad Men
JD: Top Gear

What major trend in the non-fiction content industry do you see continuing and strengthening in 2010?
TB: Observational documentary with a conceit – or docs with a twist/an angle/a formatted element to them.
VM: Live event TV.
IS: Cinema release of feature-length docs like The End of the Line, The Cove, The Age of Stupid, and The Corporation.
JD: Tighter budgets.

What major trend in the non-fiction content industry would you like to kiss goodbye to in 2010?
TB: ‘Accessible’ documentaries. I would like to see real documentaries being made more often where risks are taken, rather than a safe approach, i.e. authored journeys that are all about the celebrity rather than the story.
VM: Celebrity-fronted travelogs.
IS: Big Brother and Big Brother copycat formats.
JD: Tighter budgets.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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