A Masterclass on International Documentary Series Production – 12 May 2010

with Simon Nasht, Michael Cordell and Trevor Graham.
Moderated by Jane Jeffes

Location: AFTRS Theatre, Fox Studios / Entertainment Quarter. 130 Bent St, Moore Park NSW.
Map: http://www.aftrs.edu.au/about/contact-us/sydney.aspx
Date: Wednesday 12 May 2010
Time: 6.00pm arrival for 6.30pm start
Entry: $5 suggested donation

RSVP not required, but be early to ensure your seat.
This event is open to the public.

NB: If you are intending to park at Fox Studios, a cheaper flat rate of $6 applies after 6pm!

Addicted to Money

Simon Nasht, Michael Cordell and Trevor Graham will explore the processes employed in creating international documentary series. Reviewing the financing and editorial considerations at work in producing an Australian program for the international television market.

Some specifics that will be addressed in this masterclass include:

1. The Story
Identifying stories that work for the international marketplace and audience – particularly in terms of attracting funding from overseas. The processes and experiences of getting  pre-sale approvals by broadcasters at different stages. The necessity of cutting and presenting materials differently for various markets.

2. The Voice
In Bondi Rescue, how are Aussies perceived abroad? In Addicted To Money, why choose an Anglo-Irish writer/presenter? What is “Australian” and what is equally at home in another English speaking market? Or non-English speaking market?

3. Series vs One-off
Different experiences and imperatives for the funding and producing of “series”, as opposed to “one-off’s” which our speakers are well versed in also.

4. Perceptions
How are Australian producers and directors perceived in the international marketplace? Are we taking a lead role in initiating new series – one-off or continuing, as opposed to adopting an existing format perhaps.

5. The Australian Element
What overseas series do you think have worked well in Australia? What Australian stories work well overseas in a series format? Is there a glass ceiling? Can we, from our distant corner, also be taken seriously when telling big international stories.

Case Studies (with excerpts)

Simon Nasht, will discuss Addicted To Money – a 3 x 1 hour series he directed on the current global financial crisis and its implications for the future, commissioned by public broadcasters ABC (Australia), RTE (Ireland) and S4C (UK) – will talk about the creative considerations of putting together a program of this magnitude, and how it was shaped for an international audience.

Michael Cordell will discuss his experiences producing the popular and long running TV series, Bondi Rescue, which has twice won the Logie for “Most Popular Factual Series” in 2008 and 2009. It was also nominated for “Most Outstanding Factual Series” in 2008.

Trevor Graham, previous commissioning editor at SBS and recently appointed East Coast executive producer for Electric Pictures, will talk about co-pro requirements for the international market from a creative writer/director viewpoint. Trevor wrote his doctoral thesis on this subject, which cites the example of Hula Girls – an international co-production which he wrote and directed for Electric Pictures in 2005, commissioned by AVRO, ARTE and SBS. This was also the subject of his doctoral thesis “Making Hula Girls – A cocktail for international co-production”.

Filmmaker Bio’s

Simon Nasht – broadcaster, writer and filmmaker

A former political reporter and foreign correspondent for The Age and the ABC, over the past 15 years Simon Nasht has established himself as one of Australia’s most experienced history documentary filmmakers, winning major international awards and producing work for many of the world’s leading networks including the ABC, BBC, National Geographic and America’s PBS. He has written a best selling biography of the explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins and is a regular contributor to ABC Radio National, The Australian, Sunday Age and other newspapers. Currently, he is a producer at Real Pictures, and previously co-producer at Essential Media, partner at Gabriel Films New York and joint MD at Pilot Productions with business partner Ian Criss in London and Budapest making trail-blazing shows like Lonely Planet for more than 70 broadcasters around the world. Simon also worked as a producer for Beyond International Group.

More About Addicted To Money

Written and presented by Irish economist and social commentator David McWilliams, and executive produced by Andrew Ogilvie of Electric Pictures in Perth, Addicted To Money is THE program for anyone who wants to know how and why the financial crisis came about, what it all means for us now, and what we can do to create a more sustainable economy. Biting and punchy, this series is a survival guide for the New Economy, presented with the wit, charm and incisive appeal of David McWilliams: a young economist who talks just as candidly to the most influential and powerful players in the global economy as he does to ordinary people around the world.

Official website: http://www.addictedtomoney.com.au
Trailer: http://www.addictedtomoney.com.au/?page_id=14

Michael Cordell – Executive Producer

Michael Cordell is one of the best-known producers and filmmakers in Australia. As a director, his documentary feature Year of the Dogs had a wide theatrical release in Australia, screened on the BBC’s prestigious Storyville and has won numerous awards. It is still among the highest grossing theatrical documentaries in Australia. Among Michael’s various credits as a producer and/or director are Bondi, The Track, Drama School, A Case for the Coroner, The National Sex Survey, Suspicious Minds and Political Football. His provocative documentary Music and Murder screened on SBS in 2004 while The Original Mermaid (SBS) won him the Film Critics’ Circle Award for Best Director. Michael was Executive and Series Producer on Two Men in a Tinnie with Tim Flannery and John Doyle that won Independent Producer of the Year (factual). He more recently directed Two in the Top End. He has recently Executive Produced Recruits (Ten), Dave in the Life (SBS), Anatomy of a Massacre (ABC) and is finishing his latest documentary feature Three Boys Dreaming for the ABC and BBC. Bondi Rescue is now in its fifth season, has won two Logies and is currently nominated in both “most popular” and “most outstanding” categories.

Michael was also a founding partner of Hilton Cordell Productions, a company that developed an international reputation co-producing with leading broadcasters such as PBS, National Geographic, BBC, Channel Four, Arte, France 3 and ZDF as well as all Australian broadcasters.  Their programs also screened on Discovery, Canal Plus, TF1 and NHK. Hilton Cordell Productions won many awards including a Logie. Earlier in his career Michael was a print and televison journalist.

More about Bondi Rescue

Bondi Rescue follows the day to day life of the lifeguards at work patrolling Bondi Beach, who ensure the safety of beach revelers. The show is narrated by Andrew Günsberg. There have been 46 episodes (30 min) since February 15, 2006. A spin-off, set in Bali, Indonesia, also briefly screened in 2008. Bondi Rescue has also been broadcast in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Belgium and worldwide on National Geographic Adventure. Bondi Rescue returned for a fifth season on 9 February 2010.

The Bondi lifeguards perform around 2,500 rescues over the summer period, dealing with lost children, shark scares, sexual deviants, and thieves on the beach in addition to watching the water. Every once in a while celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Richard Branson, Snoop Dogg, Steve Irwin, Bindi Irwin and the Indian Cricket Team also make appearances on their shores.

Bondi also has its Annual Lifeguard Challenge that tests the skills of each lifeguard with a punishing Run, Swim and Board-Paddle going from Bondi to Bronte and through Tamarama.

Footage for the show is shot during the preceding Australian summer (usually between November and February), with certain episodes reflecting incidents that have occurred during New Year’s Day and Australia Day. Later seasons also featured footage of lifeguard trials and training exercises from the middle of the year.

Official websites: http://ten.com.au/bondi-rescue.htm

Executive Producers: Michael Cordell and Nick Murray

Trevor Graham – producer, director, writer, commissioning editor

Trevor Graham has worked as a writer, producer and director of documentary in the Australian industry for over 25 years. His documentaries have been broadcast nationally and internationally, winning two Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Documentary and numerous other national and international film and television awards. Trevor has co-produced and commissioned works for Channel 4 and the BBC (Britain), WGBH (America), ARTE (France/Germany), AVRO (Netherlands), SBS and ABC TV (Australia).

From 2005 to 2008 Trevor was a Commissioning Editor for Documentary at Australia’s multi-cultural broadcaster SBS. He commissioned over 90 hours of prime time television; science, history, contemporary, social, political, series and one-offs. He is the Co-Chair of the Australian International Documentary Conference, and has a Doctorate of Creative Arts from University of Technology Sydney. Trevor joined Electric Pictures as a full-time east coast Executive Producer in 2010.

Quote from the DCA abstract:

The international market for pre-selling Australian programs is extremely tough and competitive. It’s a buyer’s market. Making Hula Girls demonstrates how and why the program attracted buyers (Commissioning Editors) and reveals the creative processes employed to ensure it had a smooth path through production and engaged audiences particularly locally for SBS TV.

In completing this ‘doctoral package’, I argue that Australian documentaries can succeed in the international market if producers are mindful of the need to appeal to international audiences, have a coherent knowledge of broadcaster slots and a familiarity with the tastes of Commissioning Editors they are pitching to. I conclude that there are creative restraints required by these markets and I elaborate on their impact for filmmakers.

More about Electric Pictures

Established more than 13 years ago Electric Pictures maintains a reputation as a leading Australian independent, producing award winning documentaries in a range of genres. Its co-production partners include: ABC, ARTE, BBC, Beyond Distribution, Discovery Channel, Channel Ten, Granada, NHK, National Geographic, PBS, RDF, RTHK, SBS, Sky and ZDF. Titles include: Cracking the Colour Code, The Hunt for HMAS Sydney, Gallipoli Submarine, Winner’s Guide to the Nobel Prize, Bom Bali, Super Flu: Race Against a Killer, The Black Road, Submariners, Child Soldiers, and The Human Race.

Official website: http://www.electricpictures.com.au/filmography/

The panel will be moderated by Jane Jeffes:

Jane Jeffes started her career in London’s Fleet Street, before moving to Central Independent Television and then into radio. As Head of Programmes for Unique Broadcasting, the UK’s largest radio production company, she was responsible for a wide range of programming on BBC and commercial radio. She moved to Sydney in May 2000 and worked in development and production on a range of Australian documentaries before setting up her own company, Firefly Productions. Jane is currently producing an international co-production called My America.

This event is being produced for OzDox by Sensory Image and Firefly Productions.

The Australian Directors Guild thanks Screen Australia and Screen NSW for their ongoing support.