Exclusive: MacGillivray Freeman Films expands into TV

Independent giant-screen producer and distributor MacGillivray Freeman Films is expanding into the TV space by bringing IMAX-quality content and 4, 5 and 6K digital footage to TV production. (Pictured: Travel Channel's America. The Beautiful.)
August 28, 2015

Independent giant-screen producer and distributor MacGillivray Freeman Films is expanding its footprint into television production.

The Laguna Beach, California-based film company is known for big-screen, 70mm films and has so far produced 38 films for IMAX and giant-screen theatres, including Everest and The Living Sea. The new small-screen division – led by documentarian Grady Candler - aims to bring IMAX-quality content into TV production using 70mm film and 4, 5 and 6K digital footage rarely used in non-fiction programming.

“We’ve been making IMAX and giant-screen films for the last 40 years now, and with each production we do we produce a lot of content,” Shaun MacGillivray, MD of MacGillivray Freeman Films, tells realscreen.

“We’ve been doing a lot of short-form content for online use but we’d always wanted to get into TV production,” the exec adds. “Especially as you look at TV content, it’s getting in many ways higher and higher in production value.”

The company’s first project with its new arm has been the 8 x 30-minute series America. The Beautiful. for Travel Channel, which debuted on August 9. Narrated by actor Robert Redford, the program spotlights national parks and wilderness areas in the U.S. and marks the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service.

Meanwhile, upcoming TV projects include a six-part series tied to the company’s One World One Ocean multi-media environmental campaign that focuses on the world’s five oceans and introduces audiences to top ocean explorers, scientists and adventurers. A second project looks at the culture of surfing in the U.S. during the late 1960s and early 1970s against the cultural backdrop of the Vietnam War.

The company is currently in talks with various networks for both projects.

“From our standpoint, we can produce [TV] at a really high production value, and at a similar cost to what it would be like to capture it at a lower resolution because we have the equipment and the experience already,” said MacGillivray.

The exec says the company – though known for a scientific and natural history platform – will be open to many genres, but will continue producing family-friendly programming.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be based on the environment. It’s what’s the most gripping, what’s the most relevant and what do we think can do well on a TV platform,” explained MacGillivray. “We’ve been producing films on a variety of different topics, but they are very much family-oriented and family-friendly films, and if anything I would say we’d stick with content that is exciting but is something that all families can get behind.”

The company’s next IMAX and giant-screen offering is the forthcoming National Parks Adventure, a 3D film that is again narrated by Redford and scheduled for global release on February 12.

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.