The Cream of the Crop: Realscreen’s Global 100

As the second decade of the 2000s came to a close, the screen content landscape was on the verge of a substantial evolution, with several new platforms and services on ...
March 27, 2020

As the second decade of the 2000s came to a close, the screen content landscape was on the verge of a substantial evolution, with several new platforms and services on the way for 2020. And just as executives and pundits have talked at length about scripted’s era of Peak TV, 2019 proved to be a banner year for producers of non-fiction content, be it “traditional” documentary or reality programming. Streaming platforms have embraced the genres even further with more commissions and sizeable budgets, and several cable outlets that dipped their toes in scripted waters have returned to their unscripted roots.

And as we find with each edition of the Global 100 that we publish, the number of production outfits held in high esteem by broadcasting partners and viewers alike also evolves, with emerging companies seen as bringing fresh creativity into the mix and veteran prodcos giving the new kids on the block a run for their money. Our 14th Global 100 listing, compiled once again with input from the international non-fiction content community, serves as both an overview of the range of non-fiction and unscripted programming resonating with audiences worldwide and, of course, a collection of companies and creators seen by you, our readers, as the cream of the production crop.

Note that, as always, companies owned by broadcasters that do substantial amounts of production for third parties are admissible for the list, but those that largely produce for their own broadcast parents are not.

And now, this year’s Global 100.

Barry Walsh
Editor and content director

Toronto |
Number of hours produced in 2019: 78
Number of employees: 27 staff, 150+ freelance
Recent projects: The Dictator’s Playbook (PBS); Paranormal
(Travel); BTK: A Killer Among Us (ID); Fear Thy Neighbor
(ID); History Erased (History Canada); Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan (Animal Planet)
Upcoming titles: Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan (Netflix);
The Story of Late Night (CNN); unannounced projects for CNN, Investigation Discovery (two series), History Canada and Discovery UK

Led by CEO David Brady and president Kate Harrison Karman, Cream Productions has created a name for itself since its founding in 2003 by pumping out award-winning programming that spans returnable series, miniseries, specials and digital content.

In the last year alone, the Toronto-headquartered company produced 10 series and nearly 80 hours of programming, and, according to Brady and Harrison Karman, “remained committed to prioritizing our deep-dive true crime projects with access-driven series.” Highlights included Investigation Discovery’s BTK: A Killer Among Us and If I Should Die, and projects that broke into new genres for the company, such as Travel Channel’s Paranormal Emergency.

Cream’s upcoming historical docudrama The Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan for Netflix, meanwhile, will explore the warring factions in feudal Japan that vied for power, and the warlords who led them. The premium content series, which will pay homage to noir graphic novels and Japanese art, is a coproduction with Smithsonian Canada.

With offices in Toronto and Los Angeles, the award-winning studio has also been looking to expand its production capabilities from within, having recently launched the Cream Films documentary division with veteran award-winning film producer Corey Russell as executive vice president of the unit. The company has also bolstered its executive ranks by promoting long-time executive James Farr to VP of development, and hiring interactive veteran Johnny Kalangis as head of digital. Daniele Alcinii

Buck Productions
Toronto |
Stalker Files; It Happened Here; 9K Racing

Cineflix Productions
Toronto |
American Pickers; Property Brothers

eOne (a Hasbro company)
Toronto |
Growing Up Hip Hop; Make It to the Moon

Frantic Films
Toronto, Winnipeg |
Backyard Builds; In Plain Sight

Great Pacific Television
Vancouver |
High Arctic Haulers; Highway Thru Hell

Insight Productions (a Boat Rocker Media company)
Toronto |
Amazing Race Canada; Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind

Toronto |
Blown Away; Landscape Artist of the Year

Markham Street Films
Stratford |
Pugly: A Pug’s Life; Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit

Media Headquarters Film & Television
Toronto |
Canada’s Smartest Person, Salvage Kings

Peacock Alley Entertainment
Toronto |
50 Ways to Kill Your Mum; Jensplaining

Montreal |
Restoration Garage; You Can’t Ask That

Proper Television (a Boat Rocker Media company)
Toronto |
Junior Chef Showdown; MasterChef Canada

Scott Brothers Entertainment
Toronto |
Brother vs. Brother; Property Brothers at Home

Shark Teeth Films
Toronto |
Vegas Cakes; Secrets in the Ice

Yap Films
Toronto |
Secrets of Noah’s Ark; The Genetic Revolution

A SMITH & CO. (A Tinopolis Group company)
Toluca Lake, CA |
Number of employees: 100
Number of hours produced in 2019: approximately 200
Recent projects: The Titan Games, American Ninja Warrior (NBC);
Hell’s Kitchen, Mental Samurai (Fox); Unsung (TV One)
Upcoming projects: The Titan Games Season 2, American Ninja Warrior Season 12, American Ninja Warrior Junior Season 2, Hell’s Kitchen Seasons 19 & 20, Unsung Season 11 and Ellen’s Home Design Challenge (HBO Max)

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, A. Smith & Co., founded by Canadian-born production veteran Arthur Smith, has been a mainstay in reality television practically since the birth of the genre.

From such early broadcast forays as The Swan and Paradise Hotel for Fox, to American vehicles for superstar chef Gordon Ramsay including Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen, to such current unscripted staples as American Ninja Warrior for NBC, the ‘A’ in the company name could very well stand for “adrenaline”, with each series combining high stakes with dramatic pacing.

2019 marked a particularly eventful year for the prodco and for Smith, with the producer being appointed as chairman of the U.S. division of A. Smith & Co. parent company Tinopolis, giving him oversight of Tinopolis-owned Magical Elves. On the series front, the company teamed up with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for another big, loud physical competition series for NBC, The Titan Games, which has already been greenlit for season two. Hell’s Kitchen, Fox’s longest-running reality series, moved to Las Vegas for seasons 19 and 20, and the prodco staked its claim on the streaming space with an upcoming series for HBO Max, Ellen’s Home Design Challenge with Ellen DeGeneres, and a couple of series for Netflix that have yet to be announced. Barry Walsh

(A Kew Media Group company)
New York, NY |
Recent projects: Salt Fat Acid Heat, Dirty Money (Netflix); The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (HBO); Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (A&E); Why We Hate (Discovery)
Upcoming projects: Crazy, Not Insane (feature doc)

Jigsaw Productions is the New York-headquartered shingle established by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, director of such acclaimed documentary films as Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Taxi to the Dark Side and The Smartest Guys in the Room, to name a few.

Gibney — whom The New York Times referred to as “one of America’s most successful and prolific documentary filmmakers” in 2015 — founded the prodco in 2012 in partnership with Content Media (which was later acquired by Kew). The partnership allowed Jigsaw to expand further into feature films and the unscripted television series arena.

Among the company’s swath of award-winning, buzzworthy releases from the past few years are the six-part Netflix series Dirty Money; HBO’s The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival; the four-part Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat; and Enemies: The President, Justice & The FBI, which aired on Showtime in November 2018.

From geopolitics to sports, finance and music, the prodco has made its mark producing “well-told, insightful, scrupulously researched, and visually poignant stories” for myriad platforms. In the last year, the company has partnered with HBO Max for the upcoming 10-part series Generation Hustle (w/t); premiered the docuseries Why We Hate on Discovery Channel, coproduced with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television; and premiered Hip-Hop: The Songs That Shook America on AMC.

Gibney’s latest doc, Crazy, Not Insane, examines the work of psychiatrist Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis, who studied serial killers in order to find a “unified field theory” about what drives one to kill. Jillian Morgan

KINETIC CONTENT (A Red Arrow Studios company)
Santa Monica, CA |
Number of employees: 250
Number of hours in 2019: approximately 200
Recent projects: Married at First Sight, Little Women: Atlanta, Little Women: LA (Lifetime); Love is Blind (Netflix); Spy Games (Bravo);
Friends Speak (Reelz); Man vs. Bear (Discovery)
Upcoming projects: “Can’t divulge right now but we have buzz-worthy projects set up at
multiple networks.”

You know that your series is firmly etched in the annals of pop culture when it’s spoofed on Saturday Night Live. In the case of Love is Blind, the latest “romantic experiment” to hail from Kinetic Content, the SNL treatment is just one sign of the show’s entry into the zeitgeist.

The Netflix series, which placed participants in “pods” separated by walls and therefore not able to communicate face to face on their “dates,” examined whether, at a time when we all cultivate and share our filtered images of ourselves to the world, people could forge intense connections without seeing each other. Fueled by a devoted, social media savvy audience that delighted (and Tweeted) on every twist and turn, the series emerged as Netflix’s top show when the streamer began releasing its “Top 10.”

Consider that Kinetic Content is the prodco that brought the Danish format, Married at First Sight, to the U.S. via FYI and Lifetime, and you see that the company has a flair for loud, buzzy relationship formats. But Kinetic, headed by former RDF USA chief and unscripted agent Chris Coelen, also has a hit franchise in Lifetime’s Little Women and has other noisy projects underway for Bravo (Spy Games) and Discovery (Man vs. Bear).

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Kinetic Content is also aiming to expand into scripted, in conjunction with parent company Red Arrow Studios. BW

LION TELEVISION USA (an All3Media company)
New York, NY |
Number of hours produced in 2019: More than 100
Number of employees: 12 staff, approximately 170 freelance
Recent projects: Cash Cab (Bravo); Lies that Bind, Hometown Homicide, Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall, Diabolical (ID)
Upcoming projects: Multiple unannounced ID projects; Just One Man (Smithsonian); Cash at Your Door (Bravo); Hometown Homicide Season 2,
Diabolical Season 3 (ID)

Headed by Tony Tackaberry, the All3Media-backed company and American outpost for UK-headquartered Lion TV has spent more than a decade establishing itself as a well-respected tour de force in the cluttered North American television landscape by producing more than 500 hours of content. In this time, Lion USA has garnered substantial praise and greenlights from networks across the television spectrum, with partners including MTV (Money From Strangers), PBS (America Revealed), Travel Channel (Follow Your Past), Cooking Channel (Restaurant Redemption), National Geographic (World’s Deadliest), and Investigation Discovery (Diabolical, Hometown Homicide), among others.

“2019 marked the fifth successive year of growth for Lion Television USA during which we cemented our position as one of the top true crime producers in the U.S.,” Tackaberry tells Realscreen.

As such, Investigation Discovery continued to serve as a preferred broadcasting partner for Lion USA in the past year, with the successful launch of The Lies That Bind, which delved into complex murder investigations.

Additional evidence of the studio’s reputation as a true crime mainstay can be found via the forthcoming season three premiere of Diabolical and season two of Hometown Homicide, both for Investigation Discovery, as well as the optioning of author Edward Humes’ Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime that Wasn’t. The television adaptation will recount a fatal April 1989 apartment fire in which Jo Ann Parks was convicted of murdering her three young children and the California Innocence Project’s attempts to overturn Parks’s conviction.
The New York production outfit also ended the decade with the highly successful relaunch of Emmy Award-winning trivia game show Cash Cab, which was revived by NBCUniversal’s Bravo after years on Discovery and sees long-time host and comedian Ben Bailey back behind the wheel for an updated spin on the format.

2019 also saw the prodco bring on board former Part2 Pictures executive and This Is Life with Lisa Ling producer Rebecca Bregman as executive-in-charge. Bregman, who previously produced three seasons of Cash Cab in 2009 and 2010, is tasked with building out and managing Lion-affiliated production teams and the company’s overall production needs. DA

Los Angeles, CA |
Recent projects: The Masked Singer (Fox); Cash Pad (CNBC); Minute to Win It (NBC); Chef Wanted with Ann Burrell (Food Network)
Upcoming projects: The Masked Dancer; I Can See Your Voice (Fox)

Craig Plestis, CEO of Smart Dog Media, has a long pedigree in unscripted, having worked his way up to EVP of NBC’s reality division by overseeing such hits as The Apprentice, America’s Got Talent and The Biggest Loser, among others.

After leaving NBC, Plestis established Smart Dog Media and went on to exec produce such series as the popular, Guy Fieri-fronted game show Minute to Win It and The Winner Is with Nick Lachey for the Peacock, among other projects. In October of 2018, Plestis and Smart Dog Media entered into a first look deal with Endemol Shine North America, which saw them team up on what became the biggest unscripted hit in the U.S. since The Voice.

Having stumbled upon the Thai adaptation of the Korean format, The King of Mask Singer, while eating at a Thai restaurant, Plestis grabbed the rights for the U.S. and took it to Fox’s Rob Wade, who thought the concept — celebrity judges guessing the identity of a “masked singer” decked out in an outlandish costume — was loud enough to work for America. He guessed correctly, and the first season of the series proved to be a pop culture phenomenon and ratings smash, racking up a 3.0 for adults 18-49, and the second and third seasons performing strongly.

While Fox took production of the U.S. version of The Masked Singer in-house to its nascent alternative studio, Plestis remains as an EP. He and Smart Dog Media are continuing to draw inspiration from the formats hotbed that is South Korea, with an American adaptation of CJ ENM’s I Can See Your Voice coming to Fox, and Plestis also on board as an executive producer for the upcoming Masked Dancer spin-off from Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television. BW

New York, NY |
Number of hours produced in 2019: 51
Number of employees: 75-90
Recent projects: Torn Apart (HBO); The Lake Erie Murders, Heart of Darkness (Investigation Discovery); Hometown Horror, Lost Secrets (Travel)

Founded in 2016 by former History VP and EP Julian Hobbs and former MTV current programming EVP Elli Hakami, New York City-headquartered Talos has built a reputation for factual with a cinematic flair. In 2019, the company grew its production slate in a big way, adding commissions from streamers to its mix of content for cable partners.
Having quadrupled its output hours and revenue over the previous year, Talos is now working across a formidable range of genres — from food competition to investigative documentary, and from paranormal to true crime.

Highlights for the past year included the seven-part Lake Erie Murders for Investigation Discovery, which premiered with a three-hour special; and paranormal entries for Travel that included Hometown Horror, Lost Secrets, and a docudrama coproduced with Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company, Salem Witch Trials. Talos also brought Torn Apart, a critically acclaimed documentary on the Mexican border crisis helmed by Ellen Goosenberg, to HBO.

On the way for the year ahead: a food competition series for HBO Max, a Disney+ commission coproduced with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’ Milojo Productions and an “ambitious” survival series for Discovery. BW

1895 Films
Calabasas, CA |
Apollo: Missions to the Moon; Loch Ness Monster: New Evidence

44 Blue Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company)
Burbank, CA |
Jailbirds; First Responders Live; Wahlburgers

495 Productions (a Fremantle company)
Burbank, CA |
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation; Paradise Hotel

51 Minds (an Endemol Shine North America company)
New York, NY |
Below Deck: Mediterranean; The Grand Hustle

Ample Entertainment
Culver City, CA |
The Lost Gold of World War II; Murder in the Heartland

Big Fish Entertainment (an MGM TV company)
New York, NY |
Live PD; Black Ink Crew; Live Rescue

Blackfin (an eOne company)
New York, NY |
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez; Finding Escobar’s Millions

Bunim/Murray Productions (a Banijay company)
Glendale, CA |
Born This Way; Surviving R. Kelly (with Kreativ Inc.)

Critical Content
Los Angeles, CA |
Very Cavallari; Catfish: The TV Show

Stephen David Entertainment (a Banijay company)
New York, NY |
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle; Sugar Town

Dorsey Pictures (a Red Arrow Studios company)
Littleton, CO |
Dog’s Most Wanted; Building Alaska

Endemol Shine North America
North Hollywood, CA |
MasterChef; The Masked Singer (with Smart Dog Media)

Evolution Media (an MGM TV company)
Burbank, CA |
The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills; Botched!; Vanderpump Rules

Florentine Films
Walpole, NH |
Country Music

Fly On the Wall Entertainment
North Hollywood, CA |
Big Brother; Will Smith: The Jump

Fremantle North America
Burbank, CA |
America’s Got Talent; American Idol

Glass Entertainment Group
Philadelphia, PA |
Manson: The Women; The Vet Life

Herzog & Co.
North Hollywood, CA |
The Movies; The Witnesses

High Noon Entertainment (an ITV America company)
Sherman Oaks, CA; Denver |
Cake Boss; Fixer Upper; Good Bones

Intellectual Property Corporation (an Industrial Media company)
Los Angeles, CA |
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath; Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole

ITV Entertainment (an ITV America company)
Los Angeles, New York |
Love Island; Queer Eye (with Scout Productions)

Jupiter Entertainment (a Sky company)
Knoxville, TN |
Murder Chose Me; Snapped

Karga Seven Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company)
Los Angeles |
Unexplained and Unexplored; Mission Declassified

Left/Right (a Red Arrow Studios company)
New York |
The Circus; The Weekly

Leftfield Pictures (an ITV America company)
New York |
Pawn Stars; Alone

Lighthearted Entertainment
Burbank, CA |
Are You The One?; Ready to Love

Santa Monica, CA |
Kevin Hart: Don’t F*** This Up; Chasing the Cure

Magical Elves (a Tinopolis Group company)
Los Angeles |
Top Chef; Nailed It!

Magilla Entertainment
New York, NY |
Long Island Medium; Dirty Mudder Truckers

Main Event Media (an All3Media America company)
Los Angeles |
United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell; Inside Jokes

Matador Content (a Boat Rocker Media company)
New York, NY |
Lip Sync Battle; Going From Broke

Beverly Hills, CA |
The Voice (U.S.); Shark Tank; Survivor

Optomen U.S. (an All3Media company)
New York, NY |
Buddy v Duff; Worst Cooks in America

Original Productions (a FremantleMedia company)
Burbank |
Deadliest Catch; Bering Sea Gold

Pilgrim Media Group (a Lionsgate company)
North Hollywood, CA |
The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story; Street Outlaws

Ping Pong Productions
Glendale, CA |
Expedition Unknown; Dr. Pimple Popper

Prometheus Entertainment
Los Angeles, CA |
Curse of Oak Island; The UnXPlained with William Shatner

Propagate Content
Los Angeles, CA |
Up and Vanished; In Search Of

Renegade83 (an eOne company)
Sherman Oaks, CA |
Naked and Afraid XL; My Feet are Killing Me

Revelations Entertainment
Los Angeles, CA |
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman

Sharp Entertainment (an Industrial Media company)
New York, NY |
90 Day Fiancé; Love After Lockup

Thinkfactory Media (an ITV America company)
Los Angeles |
Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition; Mama June: From Not to Hot

Tremendous! Entertainment
Eden Prairie, MN |
Naturally, Danny Seo; Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests

Truly Original Productions (an Endemol Shine North America company)
New York, NY |
Deal or No Deal; Real Housewives of Atlanta

Warner Horizon Television
Burbank, CA |
The Bachelor (with Next Entertainment); The Voice (with MGM TV)

World of Wonder Productions
Los Angeles, CA |
RuPaul’s Drag Race; Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles

Zero Point Zero
New York, NY |
Broken; My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman; Pandemic

London |
Number of employees: 240
Number of hours produced in 2019: 112
Recent projects: Body Cam, Green River Killer: Mind of a Monster (ID); Apollo: The Forgotten Films (Discovery); Rookie Moonshot: Budget Mission to the Moon (National Geographic); Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed the Planet (Channel 4)

Frequently featured in our Global 100, Arrow continued its forward motion in 2019, with a revamped business structure designed to play to various strengths.

In late 2018, the company announced a rebrand of sorts, to Arrow International Media, and the formation of two separate labels operating under the parent — Arrow Media and Arrow Pictures. For the former, Arrow co-founder Tom Brisley heads up the division as creative director, with a focus on producing and developing returnable content across the factual spectrum, including series, singles and specials. The latter division, meanwhile, is headed up by Arrow co-founder John Smithson and focuses on “premium” projects ranging from feature docs to high-end series and serials.

As for content, the company continued its run of well-rated, well-produced true crime with several projects for Investigation Discovery, including another installment in its ‘Mind of a Monster’ strand, focusing on Ted Bundy. The specials probe the inner workings of serial killers, and another edition, regarding “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway, aired this past February.

Arrow Pictures, meanwhile, generated buzz and rave reviews with its Channel 4 special Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed the Planet, in which British author and Guardian columnist George Monbiot examines how current agricultural practices, including those designed for free range farming, are “trashing the living world.” BW

FIRECRACKER FILMS (A Tinopolis Group company)
London |
Number of employees: 15 full time staff
Recent projects: Mums Make Porn (Channel 4); Emma Willis Delivering Babies (W Channel); Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over (W Channel); The Sex Clinic (E4); Save Well Spend Better (Channel 4); The Customer is Always Right (BBC1); Britain’s Loudest Snorers (Channel 5)

From international hit Big Fat Gypsy Weddings to eye-catching titles such as Strippers, Dad’s Having a Baby and Born in the Wrong Body, Firecracker Films has made its name producing TV programs that, according to its motto, “go off with a bang.”

The company, based in London and Glasgow, has taken its trademark style of programming worldwide since launching in 2002. Firecracker has worked with broadcasters in the UK and U.S. such as the BBC, Channel 4, W, ABC, Discovery, TLC and National Geographic. Its titles, comprising factual series and one-off documentaries, have sold in more than 150 countries. In 2012, the company was purchased by UK-headquartered international producer-distributor Tinopolis Group, under which it continued to expand its lineup of unscripted titles.

Recently, Firecracker partnered with Channel 5 for Britain’s Biggest Snorer and UKTV for Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over. But its noisiest entry for 2019 was Mums Make Porn, a three-part docuseries for Channel 4, which brought together several mothers of teens with the mission to make an “ethical” adult film that promotes healthy attitudes about sex and relationships. In Firecracker style, it generated headlines and audience numbers.

“In an increasingly crowded UK and international marketplace we at Firecracker have always tried to make a noise and make shows that stand out from the crowd,” Jes Wilkins, chief creative officer, says. “The international success of shows like Mums Make Porn and The Sex Clinic, and the awards recognition of shows like Emma Willis Delivering Babies and The Customer is Always Right have made 2019 a memorable year.” JM, BW

London, Los Angeles |
Number of hours produced in 2019: 35
Recent projects: Tell Me Who I Am, Diagnosis (Netflix); Untouchable (BBC, Hulu); Cajun Navy (Discovery); Storm Over Brooklyn (HBO)
Upcoming projects: Tina Turner (feature doc, w/t); Supervillain (Showtime); Hip Hop Untold (FX); Torn (National Geographic)

2019 was a particularly strong year for Lightbox, headed up by cousins Jonathan and Simon Chinn, with a raft of critically-acclaimed, commercially successful feature docs, specials and series for cable and various platforms.

The year opened with a premiere at Sundance for Untouchable, Ursula Macfarlane’s investigation of the rise and fall of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Following a strong appearance in Park City, the film was acquired by Hulu.

Meanwhile, Tell Me Who I Am, a Netflix Original feature doc helmed by Ed Perkins, garnered rave reviews at its Telluride premiere and via the streaming service, for its depiction of two twins grappling with the revelation of a painful family secret. The company also scored an eight-episode run on Netflix for Diagnosis, an innovative docuseries produced with Scott Rudin Productions and the New York Times, which followed patients with mysterious illnesses as they endeavor to find a diagnosis, and possibly a cure, through various methods, ranging from medical expertise to crowdsourcing.

On the way: a much anticipated feature doc on the life of R&B icon Tina Turner, and a feature for National Geographic Documentary Films, Torn, which follows National Geographic Explorer Max Lowe as he and his family uncover more about the life and death of his father, legendary mountaineer Alex Lowe. BW

Bristol |
Recent projects: Our Planet, Dancing with the Birds (Netflix);
Penguins (Disneynature)
Upcoming projects: David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (Netflix); Dolphin Reef, Elephant (Disneynature); A Perfect Planet (BBC)

The entry of global streaming powerhouse Netflix into landmark natural history commissioning was met with more than a few raised eyebrows on the production and network commissioning fronts. That Netflix was keen to enter the space was not surprising, given the success of various acquired series such as Blue Planet II and Planet Earth on the platform.

What did provoke chatter was the choice of prodco and presenter for Our Planet, the service’s first foray into blue chip natural history: Silverback Films, the production company established by former BBC NHU heads Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill (the latter being the creator of the original Planet Earth and Blue Planet series); and Sir David Attenborough, presenter for practically any and every landmark natural history series since the dawn of time.

Controversy notwithstanding, the series — spanning 50 countries and four years in the making — was a typically breathtaking addition to Silverback’s roster, but beyond its sheer scope, it was also significant for its subject matter and tone. The eight-part series examined the world’s ecosystems through the lens of climate change and its impact, making for what The Atlantic called “a beautiful but uncomfortable” viewing experience.

“2020 will be a critical year for the planet and Silverback Films will be leading the way in explaining
the environmental challenges,” says Fothergill. “David Attenborough’s movie is a powerful polemic and A Perfect Planet, BBC1′s landmark series for the autumn, reveals how the forces of nature may be out of balance.” BW

STUDIO LAMBERT (an All3Media company)
London |
Number of hours produced in 2019: 172
Number of employees: 43 permanent staff and 1,228 freelancers contracted in 2019.
Recent projects: The Circle (C4/Netflix); Naked Attraction, Four in a Bed, Buy It Now, Gogglebox, Gogglesprogs, Celebrity Gogglebox (C4); Undercover Boss (CBS); Race Across the World, Top of the Shop with Tom Kerridge (BBC2); Nightmare Pets
Upcoming projects: Celebrity Race Across the World (BBC1); Race Across the World Season 3 (BBC2); The Hustler (ABC)
London-, Manchester- and Los-Angeles-based Studio Lambert was launched in 2008 by former RDF Media exec Stephen Lambert, the creator of formats such as Wife Swap, Secret Millionaire and Faking It, with backing from global producer-distributor All3Media. Studio Lambert was fully acquired by All3Media in 2012 when the group launched its U.S. arm, All3Media America.

While established unscripted staples such as global hit Undercover Boss and UK franchise Gogglebox are still going strong, with its roster of newer, non-scripted titles such as The Circle (C4/Netflix) and Race Across the World (BBC), the prodco has picked up numerous awards and nominations in recent years at BAFTA, the National Television Awards, the Edinburgh TV Festival Awards and the Realscreen Awards, to name a few. Most recently, in February, Studio Lambert won the award for best independent production company at the 2020 Broadcast Awards in London.

The Circle has drawn raves for its marriage of social media and the social experiment genre, as participants, housed in separate apartments and unable to meet each other in the flesh, communicate with each other through a voice-activated social media platform dubbed The Circle, and attempt to create the most interesting profiles and gain “influencer” status. Following a successful season on Channel 4, Netflix swooped in and grabbed global rights, excluding the UK, for the format, with the U.S. version premiering this past January and a new season greenlit.

With its roots stretching back to 1955, when Lambert’s father, Roger, launched the UK advertising production shingle of the same name, Studio Lambert has been firing on all cylinders for more than a decade. In 2015, the prodco expanded its remit, launching a scripted division to produce drama series with British and American writers, directors and on-screen talent. JM, BW

72 Films
London |
Inside North Korea’s Dynasty; Moon Landing Live

Amos Pictures
London |
Leaving Neverland

Blink Films
London |
The Search; Mystic Britain

CPL Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company)
London |
A League of Their Own; The Restaurant that Makes Mistakes

The Garden (an ITV Company)
London |
24 Hours in Police Custody; Operation: Live

Icon Films
Bristol |
Savage Kingdom; Jeremy Wade’s Dark Waters

ITN Productions
London |
For Sama; easyjet: Inside the Cockpit

Lion Television (an All3Media company)
London |
21 Kids and Counting; Secret World of the Holiday Resort

Love Productions (a Sky company)
London |
The Great British Bake Off; Junior Bake Off

London |
World According to Jeff Goldblum; One Strange Rock

October Films
London |
This is Football; Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out

Plimsoll Productions
Bristol |
Hostile Planet; A Night on Earth

Raw TV (an All3Media company)
London |
Gold Rush; Don’t F*** With Cats

RDF Television (a Banijay company)
London |
Shipwrecked; The Making of Me

Shine TV (an Endemol Shine company)
London |
The Island with Bear Grylls; MasterChef; The Heist

Tuesday’s Child
London |
Lego Masters; The Hit List

Twofour Broadcast (an ITV company)
London |
The Real Marigold Hotel; Beat the Chef

Wall to Wall (a WBITVP company)
London |
Catching Britain’s Killers; Long Lost Family

Sydney, Australia; Los Angeles, CA |
Number of employees: 115 employees and freelancers
Number of hours produced in 2019: 90
Recent programs: Holey Moley (ABC); Dating Around (Netflix); Pick, Flip & Drive (Facebook); Crikey! It’s the Irwins (Animal Planet); Deadly Cults (Oxygen); The Launch (CTV); The Real Dirty Dancing (Seven Australia); The Amazing Race – Australia (Ten); The Chefs’ Line (SBS); Thrones 360 (Foxtel); Drunk History – Australia (Ten).

There are bicoastal production companies, and then there are… “bicontinental” production companies. The list of the latter is significantly smaller than that of the former, but Eureka definitely fits the bill.

Founded by Endemol Shine Group colleagues Chris Culvenor and Paul Franklin in 2016, the company has its primary offices in Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles. While that may make for a heck of a commute, it also facilitates a business model that allows for Eureka to create and develop formats in one territory and exploit them in others; and well entrenched partnerships with some of the world’s biggest broadcasters.

Eureka has racked up successes on streaming services, with its Netflix relationship series Dating Around garnering praise for its inclusive approach to the genre; on broadcast, with the endearingly wacky miniature golf format Holey Moley up for a second season on U.S. broadcast net ABC; and on cable, with Animal Planet chomping at the bit for a second season of Crikey! It’s the Irwins.

Coming for 2020: a florist competition series for HBO Max (Full Bloom), and the Australian adaptation of Holey Moley, which will feature Aussie golf legend Greg Norman as “resident golf pro.” BW

Beach House Pictures (a Blue Ant Studios company)
Record Rides; Ed Stafford: First Man Out

Chippendale NSW |
Marry Me, Marry My Family; The Great Australian Cookbook

Le cinquième rêve
Paris |
700 Sharks; The Superpowers of the Bear

Off the Fence (a ZDF Enterprises company)
Amsterdam |
Wildest Survival; Into the Wild
Pernel Media
Paris |
Wheeler Dealers; The Real War of Thrones

Terra Mater Factual Studios (a Red Bull Media company)
Vienna |
Sea of Shadows

Paris |
Prehistoric Worlds; On the Trail of the Snow Leopard

Alfred Street Industries
Los Angeles, CA
Brain Games, Project Runway

Authentic Entertainment (an Endemol Shine North America company)
North Hollywood, CA |
Trading Spaces; The Best Thing I Ever Ate

BBC Studios
London |
Fatberg Autopsy; Chocolate Dreams: Inside Hotel Chocolat; Autumnwatch: New England

Big Coat Media
Toronto |
Love It or List It

Blast! Films
London, UK |
Jade: The Reality Star Who Changed Britain; The Secret Life of the Zoo

Content Group/Asylum Entertainment
Encino, CA |
Eli Roth’s History of Horror; In Ice Cold Blood

Firelight Media
New York, NY |
Miles Davis: The Birth of the Cool

Gebrueder-Beetz Filmproduktion
Berlin, Germany |
The Forum; Gaza

Half Yard Productions (a Red Arrow Studios company)
Bethesda, MD |
The Last Alaskans; Say Yes to the Dress

London |
Hospital; The Family Brain Games

Lucky 8
New York, NY |
60 Days In

(an NBCUniversal International Studios company)
London |
Don’t Hate the Playaz; Made in Chelsea

Omnifilm Entertainment
Vancouver |
Jade Fever; Dinosaur Cold Case

Part2 Pictures
Brooklyn, NY |
Breaking Hate; This is Life with Lisa Ling

Pie Town Productions
North Hollywood, CA |
Christina on the Coast; Flipping 101

Profiles Television
El Segundo, CA |
The Amazing Race

Scout Productions
Los Angeles, CA |
Queer Eye (with ITV Entertainment)

Sirens Media (an ITV America company)
Los Angeles, CA |
The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Spun Gold
London |
Meat the Family; Quizmaster

True Vision Films
London |
Behind Closed Doors: Through the Eyes of a Child

WAM Media Group
Montreal, PQ |
The Detectives

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.