Reality-program veterans Lori Hall (Global Extremes: Mount Everest – 4 Runners of Adventure) and John Feist (Survivor and The Restaurant) have joined forces to launch Joint Adventure Films. The Los Angeles-based prodco will leverage the combined expertise of its founders in a bid to create integrated programs that balance the competing agendas of producer and advertiser.
Hall, whose CSM Communications specializes in marketing and program sponsorships, holds up as an example the Toyota-backed Global Extremes program that aired on Stamford, U.S.-based Outdoor Life Network last spring. The vehicle maker directly footed part of the production budget and agreed to purchase regular ads from the broadcaster. ‘Half of the budget for the project is paid for by the advertiser, and then the advertisers purchase more ad space. That is part of our deal with the networks,’ she says.
However, viewers of Joint Adventure Film programs won’t be left groaning from product-placement overkill, Hall contends, a criticism of many such shows. ‘That [heavy handedness] is not what the top sponsors in the world want,’ she explains. ‘They want [the advertising message] to be an intrinsic part of the project.’ Hall is frank about the challenge of creating compelling non-fiction shows that won’t turn off media-savvy viewers. ‘You can’t beat viewers over the head with it; the world is too smart for that,’ she says.
Producers are driven by creative integrity, a fact that isn’t lost on marketers, who themselves have an obligation to pursue the goals of their brand’s identity, continues Hall, adding, ‘What people are failing to realize is that sponsors also have creative integrity and are not interested in slamming [brand messages] down the throats of the general public.’
As of press time JAF didn’t have any greenlighted projects. Its pitch slate includes film and TV initiatives, ranging from feature-length docs to hybrid drama/reality series. Most touch on the genres of outdoor, travel or extreme sports. Hall will pursue sponsorship partners as executive producer in charge of finance. Feist, who produced the first four seasons of Survivor in North America, is executive in charge of creative.