LA ROCHELLE, FRANCE –France Télévisions has announced plans at Sunny Side of The Doc to establish an international production and development alliance, dubbed Global Doc, together with international broadcasters.
The goal is to initiate together ambitious documentaries in order to answer current content ecosystem changes and the competition of global digital platforms such as Netflix.
Speaking at the annual documentary conference at a session moderated by Peter Hamilton, France Télévisions’ head of documentary coproductions and international acquisitions, Caroline Béhar, said that the initiative’s chief ambition is to have broadcasters and producers “conceive globally and co-create together” while ensuring reciprocity for partners.
“Many projects we had to abandon because we did not have enough funding,” she said. “As well, why do 10 films [on the same subject] when we could do one or two [bigger ones] together?”
The Global Doc plans follow a similar effort in scripted through which France Télévisions has teamed with European pubcasters Rai and ZDF in a first look agreement whereby each partner submits its most ambitious international drama projects. For the doc initiative, plans are less formal and not necessarily involving any first look deal, with the pubcaster having in mind more of a club where partners can share their plans for ambitious projects with a global appeal.
The Global Docs partnership won’t just limit itself to European partners, with all of FranceTV’s usual doc coproducers being invited to join the club, including pubcasters NHK, Rai, CCTV, the BBC, PBS, or even streamers such as CuriosityStream, the pubcaster noted.
Béhar gave two examples of the kinds of international docs that could be created via Global Doc in the future. One is Gédéon Programmes’ upcoming Pompeii Rising, a €1.6m budget venture recreating Pompeii in the light of the latest discoveries and involving, among others, France 5, CuriosityStream , ZDF, NHK, Rai, and RTBF.
For that project, according to Stéphane Millière, head of Gédéon, the team behind the scenes is truly international: the director is from Belgium, the chief archeologist is Italian, the reenactments are being shot in Bulgaria and CGI is being taken care of in Arles in France.
The Global Doc move is something of a continuation of France 5′s past effort to facilitate international coproductions when it introduced its weekly primetime strand, ‘La science Grand Format’, three years ago. At Sunny Side, France Télévisions also showcased first images of Lady Sapiens, a coproduction between French indie Little Big Prod, videogame company and CGI supplier Ubisoft, and Ideacom International in Canada, which France Télévisions introduced to the producer.
“Caroline has been a facilitator,” commented Ideacom’s Josette D. Normandeau. “It’s all complementary, we just want to make things happen,” added Béhar.
The French pubcaster group has recently reshaped its organization in order to better address the digital age, moving away from a structure per channel, and refocusing on genre. Former France 2 documentary director Catherine Alvaresse was named director of documentaries across all channels and platforms, and, inside the doc unit, a coproduction and international acquisition department was created, headed by Caroline Béhar. Her department is now active across channels and platforms with digital platform France.tv currently upgraded, and set to include digital native shows including docs.
Sunny Side of the Doc continues in La Rochelle until June 27.