Distribution one-on-ones: Bo Stehmeier, Off The Fence

With MIPTV on the horizon, Off The Fence's sales director Bo Stehmeier talks to realscreen about the genres and new shows that are exciting the Anglo-Dutch distributor, and discusses what the indie is not looking for at the market.
March 31, 2011

With MIPTV on the horizon, Off The Fence’s (OTF) sales director Bo Stehmeier talks to realscreen about the shows that are exciting the Anglo-Dutch distributor, and discusses what the indie is not looking for at the market.

The Holland- and UK-based distribution and production company will be scouting out natural history in Cannes, according to Stehmeier. “Natural history is one of our stronger genres and we feel that in the last few years not a lot of shows have been greenlit in the more classical natural history space,” he says.

Another category the OTF team will be looking for is crime programming, in order to get co-viewing or female-skewing audiences. “There isn’t a lot of crime out there, but we’re definitely looking to buy.”

Stehmeier adds that OTF is open to partner on all genres for Asia and Africa. “We are very strong there and our catalog seems to be selling out. Rather than acquiring titles for global exploitation, we’re also looking to partner up with another production company or rights holder who want to become stronger in Asia or Africa. That’s more of a strategic alliance,” he says.

Big history event programming is another popular genre in OTF’s catalog, so he’ll also be keeping his eye out for “big budget re-enactments, exploring the classics like Egypt and Greece.”

What the firm is not looking for is sports, current affairs or anything studio-based. Additionally, he says OTF is moving away from a section it calls ‘people, places and culture,’ which was more focused on art-house films.

“At the beginning of the company, there were types that we did take on and I think the company has grown in a different direction,” he says. “Some people who have been around for a long time see us as a good partner for those types of shows. It’s not something that we’re actively pursuing – theatrical and festival documentaries.”

On the selling side, OTF represents U.S. lifestyle channel WE tv internationally, and at MIPTV the new series Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best? will be offered up. “We’ve already got buyers sniffing around it,” says Stehmeier.

OTF also has a new distribution agreement with Israel’s Ananay Communications, and will represent Duets, a cooking show with chef Rima V. Olvera; and Market Values, a travel and adventure series looking at the world’s markets.

Also known for its natural history catalog, OTF will be offering Flight for Survival, an aerial nature show shot over the Himalayas; and Aerial America from the Smithsonian Network. The latter 18-part series gives an overhead view of New York, the Grand Canyon and more. ¬†From OTF’s own production house, Wildest Africa is a 13-part one-hour series exploring Africa through aerial photography.

Also from Smithsonian Network is the coproduction Mystery of the Hope Diamond; while from Raw Cut, OTF will offer a special called Speeches that Changed the World.

For the male audiences, OTF has a 20 x 30 minute series called Hell on Hooves, which is an ob-doc following rodeo riders. Stehmeier adds that Quest, a series from PBS in the U.S., can fill a void in the science genre, which he doesn’t see as having much to offer at present. The 28 x 30-minute series is a contemporary science magazine.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.