On the Slate: ORF, KPI and Pioneer

From the end of the world to the building of a snowflake, it's the latest in factual and documentary projects from ORF, KPI and Pioneer.
September 4, 2008

Fun at the end of the world
The question of how Earth will meet its eventual end is a bit of a depressing subject, but apparently it’s a lot of fun to produce in doc form. KPI, a unit of New York-based Lightworks Producing Group, is currently finishing up a two-hour special commissioned for Discovery Channel called Apocalypse How that uses CGI to take a creative look at how the world might take its final turn. Will it be destruction by asteroid, a super volcano, global warming? The special, slated for a December air date, will take on all of these theories and more.

While they’re thinking about the end, KPI will create another two hour special – this one for Animal Planet – about species that succumbed to the sport of ancient Rome. ‘Within Gladiator events there were man versus animal competitions, there was animal versus animal, there was animal versus criminal,’ says Jeff Weber president and CEO of Lightworks. Extinction by Gladiator takes an HD look at animals and the spectacle that lead to their ultimate end. Extinction will also premiere in the fourth quarter.

Journey to the center of the earth
Taking a more geological, but no less epic look at the planet, London-based Pioneer Productions has three new projects underway that revolve around (and burrow inside) the Earth. Raging Planet 2 is a modern follow up to the prodco’s highly successful program from 10 years ago. Made again for Discovery, the sequel will explore the awesome power of the forces of nature, each episode following a different one, from avalanches to volcanoes to hurricanes. The filming is taking Pioneer all over the world and will be wrapped in 15 months.

The next two projects for Pioneer, Journey to the Edge of the Universe and Inside Planet Earth explore the outer reaches of the planet and the inner core, respectively. Journey, a coproduction with National Geographic, Discovery Canada and France 5, is an over $2 million pure CGI expedition through the universe and past all the dangerous objects in the way. While Journey looks beyond this planet, Inside Planet Earth looks inside, also using CGI to tunnel through the crust and into the hot center to see what makes this planet tick. The creative trek to the inner core will wrap in November/December.

Mommy, where does snow come from?
CGI can take us from the hot core of the earth to the cold center of a snowflake. UNIVERSUM’s 50 minute doc Let It Snow zooms in on the mysteries behind the white stuff and how its created, both naturally and artificially. Apparently, when it comes to the intrigue of snow, the fact that every flake is different is just the start.

Climate change and globalization round out the catalog ORF will be bringing to MIPCOM in October. UNIVERSUM produced From Freezer to Furnace looks at extreme changes in weather systems and how humans, nature and wildlife manage to survive under these conditions. The survival and humans and nature is also the subject of two docs on farming, harvesting and globalization, Fronteira Brazil – The Struggle for Land in Mato Grosso and One Kilogram of Wheat. Wheat is a 52 minute doc on the amount of work and subsequent rewards that revolve around one kilogram of wheat in Austria, Russia and the United States. While Wheat uses farmers to compare different cultures and social structures, Fronteira Brazil shows how global interest in Soya fields are effecting the Amazon. This 50-minute road movie that follows the paved highway running through the ancient forest, examines the sad reality that bribery and violence are ruling the rainforest.

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.