Director, writer and story editor Gary Lang has been brought on as in-house creative director at Toronto’s Cream Productions. The prodco, widely known for its science and history programs, is on a mission to increase its factual entertainment and lifestyle series output and branch into international formats. Lang is guiding the company’s creative team to help do so.
After directing, writing or producing over 60 award-winning programs for broadcasters from Discovery to National Geographic to Canal+, Lang has a specific approach to producing formats. ‘I think the show should be developed and designed first so that it’s by design – that’s what I’m passionate about and want to do here,’ says Lang, who has worked in LA, Toronto and Montreal over the last two years of his freelancing career. ‘I want to do more screen testing and production design so that when we start, everyone on the team will know what the format will look like.’ Illustrating how seriously he takes planning, Lang says the team is already talking about music now for a show they’ll be scoring in eight months.
Finessing the visual and editorial style of Cream’s series and specials is also a large part of the job for Lang, who reports to Cream founders Christopher Rowley and David Brady. Similar to his attitude about creating hit formats, Lang says the plans for creative involve a lot of meeting and talking beforehand to get the best shots. ‘I like to design shots. I have a commercial sensibility, so even the most mundane thing can be made to look interesting. Even someone picking up a phone, it’s going to have a specific look and style,’ says Lang of his work. One doc he especially appreciates for its look is The Fog of War. ‘The shots are very long and very beautiful,’ says Lang. ‘[Errol Morris] went in with a plan, a story and a look in mind, and what comes out is always better that way.’
Right now, Cream is in production on Great Sperm Race, a two-hour special for Discovery Channel Canada and Channel 4. The company is also wrapping on Dugout, a 2 x 1-hour archaeological exploration of a WWI underground battalion headquarters for Channel 4 and History Television Canada.