People/Biz

Next gen prodcos: Momentum CEO on forging your own path

The unscripted production industry has matured considerably over the course of the 2000s, and a new generation of prodcos is making an impact internationally and across platforms with fresh, innovative ...
June 6, 2019

The unscripted production industry has matured considerably over the course of the 2000s, and a new generation of prodcos is making an impact internationally and across platforms with fresh, innovative approaches to unscripted content. In this four-part series, we offer a closer look at some companies that have yet to mark their first decade in business but that are making waves and scoring greenlights, including Momentum Content. You can also read our previous profile of Blackfin, Antidote Productions and Renowned Films.

Location: New York, NY
Year established: 2016
Principals: Christina Douglas (pictured, left), CEO; Anna Snead (right), head of development
Major credits to date: Primal Instinct (seasons 1 and 2)

With a growing slate of true crime programming and a recent overall deal with Industrial Media, Momentum Content is quickly proving its mettle in the unscripted space, less than three years after its launch.

Soon after setting up shop, Momentum signed a copro deal with Blackfin, with whom Momentum co-founder Christina Douglas served as development executive on I Am Homicide while at Investigation Discovery. Prior to ID, Douglas had worked with various brands across the Discovery portfolio, and across departments.

In addition to two seasons of Primal Instinct on Investigation Discovery, Momentum is working on as-yet untitled projects at Netflix and History to expand its slate.

What was the genesis of the company?
Christina Douglas: Before launching Momentum Content, I spent nearly a decade on the network side of the industry, in a variety of roles, at a variety of networks.

I remember the day I dreamt up a distinct vision for a show that would feature an African American detective, who would tell harrowing stories straight from his case files, à la Luther. In my research, I discovered Sheriff Garry McFadden — a homicide detective based in Charlotte, North Carolina, who worked over 800 cases in his career. We greenlit the project with Blackfin, who were remarkable creative partners and produced a truly beautiful show which was later titled I Am Homicide.

After the success of that show, I realized I was spending the majority of my time not just buying content, but conceptualizing my own ideas. When they would eventually be greenlit, I wouldn’t see the project again until rough cut, and found that sometimes the show matched my vision, sometimes it didn’t. It was then that I knew it was time to go over to production. I took the leap in 2016, and it’s been a riveting ride.

What can you tell me about Momentum Content’s upcoming projects?
We are unveiling an edgy new limited series that analyzes iconic pop culture stories with Emmy-winning director Nicole Rittenmeyer. We are also doubling down on our casting efforts for a slate of new lifestyle formats. And, of course, we have a batch of new crime projects in the oven. Recently, we gained exclusive access to an elite squad of detectives that we’ve developed an active, justice-seeking format around. We’re also rolling out with an urgent documentary series about missing Native American women across America.

What has been the biggest learning curve?
I would say one of the biggest challenges I’ve come across is knowing when to stop developing something. When you’ve invested time in a new idea, it’s tough to recognize that you may be slowly falling out of love with it. If I start to have that feeling, I often ask myself: Am I seeing this through because I spent time on it, or because I still truly believe in it? Don’t be afraid to admit that maybe the best place to take the project is nowhere at all.

What advice would you give to those looking to start their own production company?
When I was first toying with the idea of launching Momentum, a good friend in the industry gave me simple yet invaluable advice: to believe in myself. It might sound cliché, but it was exactly what I needed to hear.

This story first appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Realscreen Magazine, which is out now. Not a subscriber? Click here for more information.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a staff writer at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.

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