Docs

Sunny Side: NHK seeks nuclear docs as normal service resumes

Japanese public broadcaster NHK is on the hunt for docs dealing with nuclear energy as its schedule settles down following March's natural disasters, international coproductions exec Shin Yasuda (pictured) told delegates at Sunny Side of the Doc in La Rochelle.
June 22, 2011

Japanese public broadcaster NHK is on the hunt for docs dealing with nuclear energy as its schedule settles down following March’s natural disasters, international coproductions exec Shin Yasuda (pictured) told delegates at Sunny Side of the Doc in La Rochelle.

Yasuda, who is a producer for international coproduction in NHK’s programming department, said the broadcaster acquires approximately 90 documentaries a year for its 49-minute World Documentary Slot, and coproduces about 10-15 programs a year.

A number of themes have already been decided on for the next iteration of the strand, he said, adding that he was looking for films from international producers that would work with these themes.

“The first topic is nuclear energy, for obvious reasons,” he said. “We want to know how the world is reacting [to the issue, following Japan's reactor meltdowns]. The second theme is to do with the U.S. presidential election – that’s another story we’re very interested in.

“We’re also looking at the ecology and ‘alternative lifestyle’ – are there ways that would allow us to live in an alternative way?” he added.

Yasuda explained that 75%-80% of NHK’s programming comes from its in-house production unit, which has people working all over the world. As such, any pitches have to be for ideas that its team could not fulfil themselves. Nevertheless, “there are certain places and people we just don’t have access to.”

Elsewhere, he recounted that in the aftermath of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, all four of NHK’s channels switched to rolling news. Once the country stabilized, the normal schedule somewhat resumed, albeit with major changes to some programming – geological documentaries which featured footage of earthquakes or tsunamis, for example, were pulled.

Other changes were more subtle. “Where we might normally do a cooking show, for example, we would do a show showing how to cook with very limited resources,” Yasuda said.

However, he added: “We’re happy to say that our programming is now getting back to normal and our slots and strands are going back to their normal positions.”

About The Author
Meagan Kashty is an associate editor of realscreen, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Meagan is an award-winning business journalist. Prior to joining the realscreen team, Meagan was online editor of Canadian Grocer, named Magazine of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Business Media Awards. She can be reached at mkashty@brunico.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @MegKashty

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