Canuck film board partners with Aussies and Americans; TV4 completes catalog sale; coproduction deals and more coproduction deals
March 27, 2003

Canada’s National Film Board announced new partnerships with Film Australia and National Geographic. The deal with Film Australia focuses on the development and coproduction of new programs, while the arrangement with Nat Geo is for each to represent the other’s archive in their respective markets. Eric Michel, head of the NFB’s international copro unit, says he is working on forging new coproduction partnerships in Italy and Germany as well.

Swedish commercial channel TV4 has confirmed that its program sales will now be handled by SVT Sales, a division of Swedish public channel Sveriges Television. As reported in RealScreen (February 2003), TV4 decided to shut down its in-house distribution unit — TV4 International — and was seeking a company to represent its collection. SVT Sales is now the only major distributor of documentaries in the Swedish market.

S4C International, the Welsh pubcaster’s sales arm, closed a coproduction deal with France 5 for The Normans, a 3 x 1-hour series. With funding secured, the program about the influence of the Normans on modern society, religion and politics will go into production in the spring. Other partners on board are History Channel UK, Ireland’s TG4 and S4C. Australia’s SBS has committed to a presale.

Paris, France-based indie prodco ZED succeeded in signing a couple of German broadcasters to coproduction deals during MIPTV. ARD-BR got on board Gods & Demons (3 x 1-hour), coughing up 300,000 Euro (US$321,000) to buy the completed first series and helping fund the second series. ARD-NDR signed on to Rounding up Buffalos, a 350,000 Euro ($374,000) high-definition project slated to begin shooting in the U.S. in September. Discovery Canada and Belgian pubcaster RTBF are also partners on this doc.

London, U.K.-based Top Notch Productions (headed by former Granada International head of factual programming John Drury) struck an agreement with German producer/distrib Greenlight Media to coproduce and co-finance 16 docs over the next two years. The deal, valued at upwards of $6 million, focuses on historical programs, the first three of which are in pre-production. Greenlight has worldwide distrib rights for all the titles, except in the U.K., North America, Israel and Singapore, where Top Notch retains the rights.

French prodcos MC4 and France Animation have agreed to work together on three doc projects aimed at kids: Lifesavers, about rescue missions ranging from forest fires to Arctic ice; Tales of Transformation, a humorous look at recycling around the globe; and Aquapolis, about the underwater world. The companies previously collaborated on Insectoscope, which secured sales at MIPTV to YLE Finland, NRK Norway and Israel’s Noga/Channel 8, among others.

The top four films screened at MIPDOC were: Around the World with Tippi, from Canada’s Rebel Media Ventures Corp; CIA Secret War, from France’s CAPA; Holy Secrets: Electing a Pope, from AETN International; and Clone Story, from U.S. Independents. According to Reed Midem, 473 participants registered for MIPDOC, of which 296 were buyers.

A new trade association debuted at this year’s market: the Association of Commercial Stock Image Licensors (ACSIL). Headed by Matthew White of the National Geographic Film Library, ACSIL’s stated aim is to ‘raise the profile of stock footage as a creative resource for all markets, to conduct research into expanding the business of stock footage, and to evaluate new technologies for multiple markets such as e-commerce.’ Members include ABCNEWS VideoSource, WGBH Media Library, WPA Film Library and Getty Images. ACSIL is a non-profit organization.

U.S. cablecaster A&E and French cable/satcaster histoire signed a three-year program licensing agreement. The deal allows histoire to license up to 160 hours each year from the AETN International catalog, which includes docs, TV series and specials from The History Channel and Biography.

Washington, D.C. U.S.-based National Geographic Television and Film signed a multi-year distribution deal to boost its presence in the U.K. home entertainment market. Through the pact, London-basedDD Video plans to offer 26 titles under Nat Geo’s ‘Journeys with Wildlfe’ brand in a telemarketing campaign, as well as carry various titles in retail outlets.

Tech TV, a San Francisco, U.S.-based technology lifestyle channel, unveiled several international programming and channel licensing deals during MIP. On the programming front, it locked in agreements in several countries, including Japan, Spain and Russia. Its channel is now being distributed in the Philippines, Indonesia and the Maldives.

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