Divining the Future

Ask a hundred industry people what they think the future holds and you get some interesting answers. Here are a few of your thoughts, from the pessimistic to the cheery.
December 1, 2001

Ask a hundred industry people what they think the future holds and you get some interesting answers. Here are a few of your thoughts, from the pessimistic to the cheery.


* Doc slump!!!

* Factual programming will try to compete with reality programming on networks. ‘Presenters’ will be action-heroes presenting stories that are only loosely based on facts. This will be ratings/profit driven for the corporate masters.

* Less buying, less paid per documentary.

* Same old shit or, More shit.

* More small TV markets will disappear.

* More outlets (digital), lower license fees.

* Hard times if the American economy goes down the plug hole.

* More of the same: consumption and recession until we find another country to exploit, the conglomeration of the mind, anti-individualism, xenophobia, global warming.

* More documentaries, fewer outlets.

* Quality of docs, television and movies will continue to decline.

* Stronger separation into quality and quantity – much average

programming needed for growing number of thematic channels, few enormous high-gloss projects with international coproducers and high budgets.

* More budget cuts, less emphasis on quality images or high production values.

* We’ll see a lot of patriotic and/or doomsday films.

* For 2002, I see nothing to change for better or worse. 2005 or 2006 is another matter. By then we should be able to circumvent the networks and cable with the internet.

* Big broadcasters getting even greedier.

* Consolidation.

* Fully dramatized, ‘what if’ scenario documentaries.

* A general economic depression.

* We’ll have to wait until after the war…

* It is going to be tough for non-fiction filmmakers. Good luck.


* There will be new avenues available, though producers, distributors and broadcasters are facing leaner times. But, these things go in cycles.

* Fewer, but multi-discipline, indies.

* Few commissions, more acquisitions, younger producers and directors coming to the fore.

* Smaller cameras, cheaper editing systems, less money for production.

* Some indies go under, industry tidied up a bit, commissioners more committed to their niches.

* Tough, but better than 2001.

* More demand for factual and the return of natural history programs.

* Reality shows dying a horrific death and quality history/factual taking over.

* Asian content will be appreciated much more than ever. Also, there’s the World Cup, so there might be further need for football-related footage.

* Someone will make a groundbreaking webdoc.

* Continued growth.

* Working hard will make it better.

* Programming will change. Not as much special effects. Most watched programming in docs will have to do with educating people about our world situation; personal stories, behind the scenes.

* People don’t want to feel scared and lonely, so whatever programming fills that void will be successful. People will be watching more programming ‘together’.

* Early steps of a new millennium of collective conscience?

* Things have to get better?

* Growth in hard-edged factual will replace reality.

* Improvement by the third quarter.

* I’ll sell my film.

* It will be an awesome year.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.