Prodco profile: Cream rising to the top

Last month, Toronto-based factual prodco Cream Productions had five new factual programs debut in North America. On the tail of this achievement, and just before those projects head to MIPTV, realscreen spoke with Cream's co-founder and executive producer David Brady about what's next.
April 8, 2010

Many prodcos would like to have had the month that Toronto-based Cream Productions had in March.

Five Cream-produced series debuted in North America over the course of the month. They included Machines! – a 13×30-minute series which uses CGI to get into the guts of everyday machines – on Science Channel, and I Could Do That, another 13×30-minute series which puts ordinary people behind the wheel of extraordinary machines such as tower cranes, tanks and locomotives that debuted on Discovery’s HD Theater and Discovery Channel in Canada. Two British copros, Breakout coproduced by Raw Television, and Ancient Weather, coproduced with Wildfire Television, kicked off in North America on National Geographic Channel and History Television, respectively (Ancient Weather already aired as Man on Earth on C4 at the end of 2009). And finally, the prodco produced a four-part series as a follow up to Aftermath: Population Zero, its two-hour special delving into what could happen on an Earth devoid of people. The series explored what would happen if one variable that’s integral to life as we know it on Earth was removed.

‘My father-in-law who watched [one episode] said, ‘Don’t you get sued for this kind of stuff?’, because it’s not the most uplifting often,’ says Cream’s co-founder and EP David Brady. ‘But we hope it’s entertaining.’

Brady is currently thinking ahead to the new production slate that will start this fall. He’s gearing up to head to France to film a follow-up to The Underground War, which documented an archaeological dig for an underground battleground from the First World War for History Television (Canada) and Channel 4. The new doc, also for those nets, will focus on a dig at the Somme battlefield, where 65,000 men were killed in one afternoon during WWI, to unearth tunnels that were made to get infantry across to the ‘No Man’s Land’ territory, but most of which were never used. Brady says the team will be looking for a ‘monster two-and-a-half ton underground flame thrower that would be buried under No Man’s Land and come up just before the attack out of the ground, [to] blow 100 meters of flame into the German trenches.’ Brady will direct the project, to be called Breathing Fire.

The company is also working on a pilot for History Television Canada which Brady calls ‘Antiques Roadshow meets Family Jewels,’ and he’s hoping to get return commissions for each of the programs they currently have on the air.

Looking ahead to Cream’s 10th anniversary coming up in 2013, Brady would like to see the company’s planned drama division up and running. While he doesn’t see the company growing in size, he’d like to see it become more efficient so the team of 22 can produce more hours. ‘We got really busy last year for a while and one criticism I’d be willing to share is you come really close to losing quality control when you’re doing that,’ says Brady. ‘I think we kept it together, but it was scary for a bit. So I see Cream in three years being able to manage that better.’

I Could Do That, produced for Discovery Channel Canada and Discovery’s HD Theater will be available at MIPTV through Beyond Distribution. Machines! (also How Machines Work), produced for Discovery Canada, Science Channel and Discovery International will be available through Cineflix International. Aftermath, for History Television Canada and National Geographic Channel U.S.; Breakout, for Discovery Canada, Nat Geo U.S. and National Geographic International and Ancient Weather (also Man on Earth), for History Television Canada, Channel 4 and Discovery International will all be available through ITV Worldwide.

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.