Sunny Side ’14: France 2 promises wild nights in color

French pubcaster France 2 and China's CCTV9 are lining up A Night on Earth (pictured), an ambitious multi-million dollar international wildlife copro that promises to use new technology to film night-time wildlife, in color.
June 25, 2014

French pubcaster France 2 and China’s CCTV9 are lining up Une nuit sur terre (A Night on Earth), an ambitious multi-million dollar international wildlife coproduction.

It will introduce new technology that allows the filmmakers to film in color at night-time, rather than just the green contrast of night vision, and the first installment (pictured above) – which is currently in production and slated to air this Christmas – is set in Africa.

France 2 unveiled the 90-minute, 4K special, which boasts a budget of around €2.5 million (US$3.4 million), at Sunny Side of the Doc in La Rochelle, and a second special, set in China, is also in the works. The production was first envisaged as a six-parter, however the partners are yet to decide on the exact number of installments to be made.

The blue-chip special is being directed by Thierry Machado, the director of photography on Microcosmos; and is being written by Stéphane Durand, the screenwriter of Oceans. It is being produced by Barthélémy Fougea’s prodco Winds, in partnership with Jacques Perrin’s Galatée Films, and a number of international partners.

“CCTV9 has just stepped in as a coproducer, and the agreement also includes a spin-off to be shot in China,” Fougea told realscreen in La Rochelle.

Other partners include Belgian pubcaster RTBF and Munich-based distributor Autentic, which has taken all German-speaking rights. Remaining international distribution rights are being negotiated here at Sunny Side, Fougea said.

Boréales’s previous wildlife production, Le plus beau pays du monde (Wild France), broke records when broadcast in France in December, clocking seven million viewers and a 24% share.

France 2′s head of documentaries, Fabrice Puchault, told realscreen: “We have progressively improved our natural history input, having partnered with the BBC Natural History Unit’s Africa a few years ago, while commissioning more and more French series for our Sunday afternoon natural history strand.

“We have stepped in as well on BBC NHU’s One Planet, and commissioned a second season of Le plus beau pays du monde.”

France 2 has enjoyed success this season its primetime event documentary strategy, with the latest installment of the Apocalypse franchise averaging 5.9 million viewers and a 22% share across the series.

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