Biggest Gripes

RealScreen asked readers to share their pet peeves and there was no shortage of replies. The safety of an anonymous forum prompted some scathing comments, but also some useful insights. Here's a sampling of the responses to our query.
December 1, 2002

Broadcasters, listen up

- ‘When are broadcasters – U.S. ones in particular – going to become courageous? Do I have to wait until I am in a Zimmer frame to see a new generation of filmmakers given the opportunity to make aggressive, trouble-making films again? To view world TV you would think we weren’t on the edge of international mayhem – you would think that all was well in the globalized economy, and you wouldn’t know that the premises of the world were being rethought, not wholly attractively. I need skeptical voices, and, with rare exceptions, I am not getting them. We all need them, don’t we?’

- ‘Broadcasters think their audience has no attention span and can’t understand anything intelligent. As a result, they insist on dumbing down good work to the point where it’s often not worth doing.’

- ‘It’s a given that broadcasters will be narrow-minded and unadventurous with their programming. They have their own narrow-minded bosses, so they have little control. What they can control is how quickly and clearly they communicate responses to filmmakers. I have had a broadcaster express interest, then take six months to sign a contract. There’s an incredible double standard by which broadcasters expect freelancers to never miss a deadline, but the programmers take all the time in the world.’

- ‘I think the networks too closely monitor how we spend the meager dollars available. It costs us valuable time and (yes) money to constantly report back. Obviously some degree of monitoring is good business. I am talking about requests [that go] beyond good business.’

- ‘Lack of imagination, lack of faith in an intelligent audience, slavishness to focus groups (i.e., 10 people who had nothing better to do on a Thursday afternoon are given a bizarre amount of power in the creative hierarchy). I also hate broadcasters’ obsession with ‘young’ viewers. Don’t a wide range of viewers have money?’

- ‘That broadcasters don’t freely give away many small pools of money available to help research documentary ideas. Spend less on pen giveaways at [the] Banff [Television Festival] and nurture new ideas!’

Broadcasters, now it’s your turn

- ‘An inability to grasp what types of shows networks want to make.’

- ‘Failing to recognize that the enemy is the broadcaster, not other producers.’

- ‘People using documentaries as a stepping stone to drama.’

- ‘Not watching the program selection practices of the broadcasters they are pitching to.’

- ‘Producers who think they’re TV programmers.’

- ‘Lack of sharing actual experiences in working relationships and contractual information.’

Everybody’s guilty

- ‘In the wildlife scene, their total lack of innovation. Everything must be kill, poison, bite, kill, teeth. I wish they would open their eyes and realize there is a market for smart, entertaining wildlife films that don’t focus on death and poison.’

- ‘Not encouraging/supporting younger filmmakers.’

- ‘Timidity. The same old shows, the same old approaches and the same old responses from broadcasters and distributors.’

- ‘Producers need to be less territorial, broadcasters need to be less stingy and distributors can start by returning calls and email.’

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.