Docs

“Training Teachers to Kill”, “100 Vaginas” among new slate of C4 commissions

UK pubcaster Channel 4 has unveiled an expansive new slate of non-fiction commissions, including series on social welfare and health services, as well as arts programming and a doc on ...
November 22, 2018

UK pubcaster Channel 4 has unveiled an expansive new slate of non-fiction commissions, including series on social welfare and health services, as well as arts programming and a doc on the controversial movement to arm American teachers in the face of rising school shootings.

Training Teachers to Kill  (pictured) is a 60-minute documentary that follows the heated debate playing out across American school boards, in the wake of numerous school shootings, to arm teachers in order to protect vulnerable students from such attacks.

The film interviews both proponents and critics of arming teachers and offers access to FASTER, a summer school where teachers are trained to deal with potential school shooting scenarios, including killing armed intruders.

Training Teachers to Kill is produced by Sundog Pictures and directed by Kira Phillips. The commissioning editor for C4 is Charlotte Desai.

“After the Parkland School massacre in Florida, Trump’s tweet that teachers should be armed made headlines around the world,” said Katie Buchanan, creative director of Sundog, in a statement. “His suggestion that teachers should be armed sent shockwaves. In reality there are actual training centers which focus on teaching high school teachers how to shoot in order to protect pupils in their school. We gained access to one of these to find out what was going on.”

C4 has also commissioned Blast! Films to make The Arrival of Universal Credit (w/t), a four-part series on the UK’s universal credit system, currently being piloted in select towns. The system seeks to simplify social welfare. One key feature is that benefit payments would no longer suddenly stop when a claimant found work, but rather taper off to ensure smoother transition into paid work.

The series will focus on one “guinea pig” town, following residents for one year to reveal the day-to-day realities of the new, controversial system.

Dollan Cannell serves as series producer, alongside executive producers David Hodgkinson and Edmund Coulthard. The series is directed by Owen Gower, and the C4 commissioning editor is Alisa Pomeroy.

“These are far-reaching changes on a massive scale,” said Hodgkinson, who serves as creative director of Blast!, in a statement. “They will come to affect the day-to-day lives of seven million families. With the policy starting to be rolled out nationwide, it couldn’t be more timely to explore the experience of the people, businesses and institutions already adjusting to the new system.”

Meanwhile, Epidemic is a 3 x 60-minute series produced by Expectation Factual that explores the increasingly dire state of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), tackling the fastest-growing and costly epidemics that are putting a strain on the system: obesity, violence and drug abuse.

The series is produced and directed by Luned Tonderai and executive produced by Dominique Foster. The commissioning editor for C4 is Charlotte Desai.

“There are many known and discussed reasons why the NHS is under incredible pressure,” said Desai in a statement. “This series turns the spotlight on us and asks if it’s our lifestyle choices that may be causing the service to collapse and fail.”

Lastly, C4 is bolstering its arts slate with four new programs that tackle contemporary issues, with a particular focus on identity as a central theme:

Swan Films’ Culture Wars (w/t) sees artist and broadcaster Grayson Perry travelling across the U.S. to unpack the tribal and cultural conflicts that underlie the nation. It is directed by Neil Crombie and executive produced by Joe Evans.

Superkids: Breaking Away from Care from Expectation Factual follows writer and performer Lemn Sissay on a mission to help young people in the care system find ways to express themselves. It is produced by Emily Turner and executive produced by Amy Flanagan and Colin Barr. It is directed by Guy King.

Burning Bright’s 100 Vaginas (w/t), meanwhile, follows documentary artist Laura Dodsworth as she photographs and interviews women about how their vaginas have shaped their lives. It is developed and executive produced by Susanne Curran and directed by Jenny Ash.

Finally, The Curry House Kid (w/t) takes viewers on a trip through the Bangladeshi-owned curry houses of London’s Brick Lane to tell a story of immigrant success. It is produced and directed by Nick Poyntz for Swan Films, with Neil Crombie and Joe Evans serving as EPs.

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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