Australia-based Beyond Distribution is well known for factual programs such as its smash hit MythBusters as well as various food, crime and investigation, children’s, travel and science series and docs. According to the company’s GM, Fiona Crago, it’s this diversity across genres as well as territories, that has been the key to the company’s longevity.
Beyond – which has offices in Sydney, London, Dublin and Washington – recently closed the books on its last fiscal year, and despite the period of less commissioning and financial freedom at the broadcast level, Crago says it was a good year for the company. ‘[It's down to] the relationships we had developed and worked on for a quite a few years,’ she says. ‘We had a lot in the pipeline coming into that rocky period and we were working with producers who had long-running series and existing commissions with broadcasters, so we were lucky in that regard.’ Beyond’s regular partnerships are also spread across multiple territories – mostly the U.S., Canada, the UK and Australia – so even when UK broadcasters were commissioning less, the impact was softened by work in other territories. ‘I feel like we had eggs in quite a few baskets and territories so that smoothed it out for us.’
Now the focus is on finding programs that can satisfy as many territories as possible and have the potential to turn into longer running franchises, says Crago. ‘Broadcasters have played it quite safe across the last 18 months and recommissioned successful returning series rather than new things,’ she says. With this in mind, she feels one of the best bets is to deliver some of those series that can comfortably return. ‘We’ve got more returning series than we’ve ever had and very good volume on things that have been successful for the producers and broadcasters who initially commissioned them, and maybe a bit less on the original series [side].’
One key program Crago is focusing on right now is The Will by Quebec-based prodco CMJ Productions Inc. The series, for Investigation Discovery, looks at the legal and familial conflicts that take place around the revealing of wills. ‘We hope it’s the show that will cross over to other more mainstream channels as well because the fact is everyone’s got a family, everyone dies, and people don’t necessarily think about what’s going to be left behind when they die,’ says Crago. This program, as well as series such as ID’s women-in-prison series spin-off Deadly Women: Face to Face, athletic injury and rehab series Damage Control narrated by Russell Crowe and Apocalypse 2012 by Banks Productions, will launch internationally at this year’s MIPCOM.