Name of slot: To be determined
When it will begin: September 2007
Time it will air: Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.
Length: 2 hours
Filling this slot: Nicolas Deschamps, commissioning editor and acquisitions executive, specialist factual department
What fits: Dedicated to children 8 to 12 years old, this slot needs content with a vivid and clever tone. It will air educational, attractive programming composed of short non-fiction series, magazines and some surprises. ARTE France is launching this slot with acquisitions and would like, in the near future, to extend to creative and open-minded projects.
Examples: Stressing that the slot is in the very early stages of development, Deschamps says Rooted (Five) and Cities of the Underworld (The History Channel) have the flavor he’s looking for. He likes the simple and clever concept of Rooted, which sees an immigrant child reconnect with his origins, and the freshness and humanity in Cities of the Underworld: ‘It’s a new way to face the fact that below our feet in today’s modern cities hides an underground full of incredible history.’
ARTE GEIE (France/Germany)
Name of slot: ‘Les Mercredis de l’Histoire’
When it will begin: This slot has existed since January 1994, and has always been a primetime, one-hour slot starting at 8:45 p.m. But starting in January 2008, the length will more or less double. The existing version regularly gets good ratings in France and Germany, but the hope is that Wednesday night ratings will further improve.
Time it will air: Wednesday, 8:45 p.m.
Length: There is no standard length. The minimum will be 90 minutes, the maximum 2 x 52 minutes, including trailers, teasers, and clips between the two parts. (A total of roughly two hours.) Filling this slot: Peter Gottschalk is the commissioning editor.
‘I give my advice about projects to the conférence de programmes, who accept the projects and make the final decision,’ he says.
What fits: It can be a two-part doc on one subject with re-enactments, good archives and excellent narration; two different docs about one related subject or two different subjects; or a feature doc including re-enactments or fiction clips, about a strong subject. Themes can range from the 19th and 20th centuries to modern history.
Examples: Cuba, une odyssée africaine 1 et 2 (2 x 58 minutes); Livrez-nous Grynszpan! (90 minutes); Die Komödiantin und die Henker (52 minutes); Ritchie Boys (90 minutes). ‘Normally we produce or coproduce; sometimes we buy,’ says Gottschalk.
CBC Newsworld (Canada)
Name of slot: ‘Wild Docs!’
When it will begin: ‘Wild Docs!’ had a limited run that started in October 2006, and due to its success will be brought back in mid-October 2007.
Time it will air: Wednesday, 10 p.m.
Length: one hour
Filling this slot: Catherine Olsen (senior programmer of documentaries for CBC Newsworld), Carissa Almeida, and Diane Rotteau (both of whom are producers working with Olsen at CBC Newsworld Docs).
What fits: Primarily looking for acquisitions and pre-sales, Olsen says ‘Wild Docs!’ is an eclectic mix of documentaries that explore our wild, curious and sometimes wacky world. From extreme weather to extreme relationships, ‘Wild Docs!’ exposes the not-so-dark-side of life, the idiosyncrasies and highlights of nature, humanity, and science. It introduces viewers to places and people who will surprise and sometimes shock. Take Mechanical Love, about people in Japan who have overcome their reservations and embrace the new opportunities and relationships that robot technology offers. It asks ‘Can robots make people feel loved?’
Examples: Audience favorites from the limited run include Twister Chasers, Extreme Twins, Invasions of the Killer Toads, El Nino, I love You and You and You, and Mysteries of Survival.
NHK HD Channel (Japan)
Name of slot: ‘HD Special Frontier’
When it began: January 2007
Time it airs: Thursday, 8 p.m. Broadcast twice per month. Length: Although the slot is 110 minutes, it can fit anything from 75 to 110 minutes.
Filling this slot: Junichi Katayama, senior producer, international coproductions, NHK
What fits: Established to explore the frontiers of television, ‘HD Special Frontier’ is a place for unique documentaries with innovative methodology; high-end, award-winning culture; history science docs; and docudramas. NHK either acquires or coproduces and is looking at approximately 20 single docs per year. The programs must be in HD (preferably 1080/59.94i).
In general, when acquiring or deciding whether to coproduce, NHK looks for docs that are well balanced; on current international affairs with exclusive footage or information; and report an incidents where a Japanese crew isn’t able to go themselves.
Examples: The Planet (Charon Film, aired January 2007); Ham: A Chimp into Space (copro by NHK and Boréales, aired March 2007); Iraq in Fragments (Daylight Factory, aired March 2007).
Name of slot: ‘Menschen & Mächte’ (‘Man & Power’)
When it began: April 2007
Time it airs: Thursday, 9:10 p.m.
Length: 45 minutes
Filling this slot: Klaus Hipfl, CE
What fits: Hipfl is looking for broad history and current affairs films, preferably with strong Austrian-related content.
Examples: ORF has acquired a docudrama, Surviving Disaster: Czernobyl (BBC, Seven One Media); The Last Journey of the Hindenburg (by Peter Bardehle); a BBC production called Putin’s Palace: Inside the Kremlin; and an in-house production, Childhood in the Austrian Monarchy.
Name of slot: No specific name
When it will begin: September 2007
Time it will air: Sunday, 8 p.m.
Length: one hour
Filling this slot: Christine Lee, acquisitions programmer
What fits: ‘We will be acquiring Canadian and international series and one-offs that examine key social, environmental, economic, political and cultural issues. We’re looking for informative and challenging programs that examine a wide range of contemporary social issues,’ says Lee.
Examples: ‘Our only confirmed title to date is A World Without Water, the revealing story of the dramatic impact of the battle for water ownership on the lives of people in Bolivia, India and Tanzania, as well as in the heart of the world’s richest nation, the USA,’ she notes.