The 12th edition of the Realscreen Summit is also panning out to be the biggest. It’s boasting the most speakers, the most registered delegates in its history and, hopefully for those in attendance, the most deals at the end of the three-day event.
On the list of ‘mosts’ is also the amount of sessions, including workshops, panel discussions and featured interviews. For day one, co-chair History president and GM Nancy Dubuc kicked off the event with an opening greting, after which she joined the Television 2012 Town Hall panel, handily moderated by Creative Differences’ Phil Fairclough and featuring MTV president of prograaming Tony DiSanto, Bravo EVP and GM Frances Berwick, Debbie Adler Myers, GM of Discovery Communications’ Science Channel and NBC EVP, alternative programming Paul Telegdy. In an interesting twist for a panel discussion, each panelist was given the task by Fairclough to program a night featuring only programming from the other networks on the panel.
Today’s agenda included numerous panels and a one-on-one interview with The Cove director Louie Psihoyos conducted by American University’s Chris Palmer. The New Adventures in Non-Fiction panel, consisting of C4′s deputy head of documentaries Simon Dickson; World of Wonder’s president and executive producer Fenton Bailey; Siskel/Jacobs Productions LLC’s partner and executive producer Greg Jacobs and Raw TV’s creative director Bart Layton, featured the panelists discussing key programs on their slates and what made them spark a chord with audiences. Dickson talked about The Family, C4′s most popular reality show with younger audiences now in its second season. He says the program sticks because it combines the tools of reality with the artistry of doc filmmaking. He also showed a trailer of the channel’s new doc program set in a maternity unit which launches next week. The session’s attendees were the first to see the trailer. Moderator Jonathan Hewes, Wall to Wall’s deputy chief executive, said one key feature of Siskel/Jacobs’ 102 Minutes That Changed America and C4′s The Family and One Born is the footage may look ‘kind of crap’ – as in not as high quality as HD programs – but the stories are so compelling viewers need to watch.
Co-chairing with Dubuc on this year’s event is Reveille’s managing director and co-head of domestic television & head of digital, Howard T. Owens. While Owens was unable to attend due to illness, he told realscreen why he wanted to get involved with the Summit. ‘I wanted to be part of something that allowed producers and artists the opportunity to communicate with their creative brethren, and to also share some of their insights, some of their highs and lows with the creative community.’
For day two there will be two keynote addresses: one from A&E Television Networks’ president and CEO Abbe Raven and Electus founder and CEO Ben Silverman. The day also features an interview with Oprah Winfrey Network CEO Christina Norman and a public pitching session featuring four pitchers who have been selected to pitch to Sundance Channel’s Nicole DeFusco, A&E’s Rob Sharenow, CABLEready‘s Gary Lico and Oxygen’s Amy Introcaso-Davis, hosted by Bravo’s Andy Cohen. The event closes out on Wednesday with a Brazilian Pitching Showcase featuring the top five competitors from PIC DOC pitching for judges Kristina Hollstein, director coproductions and development/documentaries for ZDF Enterprises GmbH; Diane Rankin, head of acquisitions for Cineflix International Distribution and Allison Winshel, senior director of primetime programming for PBS. There will also be an interactive Q&A session with commissioning editors, featuring Caroline Behar, head of acquisitions & international coproductions for France5; Julie Bristow, executive director, factual entertainment for CBC; Rick Holzman, SVP programming for Animal Planet; Janet Vissering, SVP strategic development & co-finance National Geographic Channels International and Elise Warner, director of development for MSNBC, hosted by realscreen columnist and editor/publisher of Reality Blurred, Andy Dehnart.
The remaining realscreen newsletters for the week will feature reports from the event.