People/Biz

RS West ’18: Breaking the mold with the FAANGs

Having the opportunity to try something different in content creation by working with new and emerging platforms was a key point discussed during a panel discussion held Wednesday (June 6) ...
June 7, 2018

Having the opportunity to try something different in content creation by working with new and emerging platforms was a key point discussed during a panel discussion held Wednesday (June 6) at the annual Realscreen West conference in sunny Santa Monica.

The session, called “The FAANGs and the Formats”, was moderated by Mark Koops, president, INE Entertainment. Panelists included David Broome, CEO/executive producer, 25/7 Productions; David Collins, principal, Scout Productions; Jennifer O’Connell, EVP, alternative programming, Lionsgate; and Ben Relles, head of unscripted programming, YouTube Originals.

Each shared with the audience how working with the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) has opened up the opportunity to develop a more creative product.

Jennifer O’Connell of Lionsgate shared her experience in working with YouTube on its series What The Fit with comedian Kevin Hart. She said Lionsgate pitched the fitness-focused idea to YouTube and realized quickly through its development process with Relles that the concept needed to be refined, which led to a shorter form.

She described working with a platform such as YouTube as “liberating,” because there was little restriction on the runtime for the series, unlike the demands of a more traditional platform.

Relles chimed in saying that Hart knows how to engage with his fans directly, and already had a successful YouTube channel before the series. He said the unscripted team at YouTube are looking for formats that are “inspirational and have a positive tone.”

Moving onto working with Netflix, David Collins of Scout Productions said his relationship with the global streaming giant is one of the best relationships he’s had in his 20+ year career.

“It has been a true partnership, collaborative from the creative, through the production all the way to delivery,” he said of Netflix, the platform that rebooted his original format, Queer Eye, which initially launched on the lifestyle net Bravo in 2003.

He said Netflix provides notes that are specific to what it knows about its platform through its metrics, allowing his team to tweak and make improvements.

David Broome, the mastermind behind Netflix’s original competition series Ultimate Beastmaster has an overall deal with the streaming service, and said even though it’s getting harder to create a “killer show” in the current environment, there is a unique creative freedom offered by these platforms. “[It's] really exciting to know that they are willing to take chances and experiment,” he offered.

“If you are selling and going to FAANGs everyone wants to try and not reinvent the wheel, but break the mould.”

(Photo by Rahoul Ghose)

About The Author
Senior staff writer Frederick Blichert comes to realscreen with a background as a journalist and freelance film critic. He has previously written for VICE, Paste Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Xtra, Canadian Cinematographer and elsewhere. He holds a Master of Arts in film studies from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from the University of British Columbia.

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