In the pages of this, our first issue of the new year, we highlight some of the individuals and companies that have had major impacts on the world of non-fiction television and film both in this past year and in the past decade. Some of them have made repeat appearances in our past “Mavericks” reports, in which we’ve saluted the bold change makers that propel the industry forward and keep us on our toes trying to follow them.
Maybe, in the case of some of the network execs we profile beginning on page 21, it’s a combination of business savvy and bold decisiveness that has made them trailblazers. As for the producers we’ve spotlighted, maybe it’s a dogged determination to tell stories that haven’t been told before (and if they have been told before, to tell them better) that has earned them their positions in the non-fiction and factual entertainment A-list. For the directors featured, perhaps it’s each one’s unique vision that has marked them as trailblazers in our eyes, be they filmmaking veterans or relative newcomers.
In every case, there is a singular trait that each person interviewed in our Trailblazer report shares. It’s an ability to ride the choppy waves of change by cozying up to the concept of risk. Some of these individuals take measured, calculated risks, while others are more of the daredevil variety (Hello, Mr.Herzog). Either way, their contributions and bold strides have made and continue to make an impact on how non-fiction content is evolving into the Tens.
It’s been said before when we run these features but it bears repeating: the Trailblazers report is not meant to be an utterly definitive list of innovators. We know there are multitudes more, and we aim to report on their activities throughout the year, both in the magazine and online.
In summarizing our intent behind the report, allow me to paraphrase music journalist Bill Flanagan. Writing the liner notes to yet another compilation of Bob Dylan’s greatest hits, he admitted that trying to collect on a single, 10-track disc the definitive works of such a musical icon, whose work has taken umpteen twists and turns over the course of a multi-decade career, is damn near impossible. At best, he said, think of such a collection as a compass and a map. That’s my advice for readers. Take a look at what these trailblazers have to say and see if any of it can help point the way for the trails that you’ll blaze in the years ahead.
Cheers and welcome to ’11,
In the November/December 2010 issue of realscreen, paleonotologist Scott Hartman had his name spelled incorrectly in our profile of Discovery’s upcoming Reign of the Dinosaurs. We apologize for the error.