Nick Hamm has worked in TV and film as well theatre, having been director of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1980s. He founded UK-based production company Greenroom Entertainment and recent feature work includes rock ‘n’ roll comedy Killing Bono. Hamm is now running the scripted division of Momentum Entertainment Group (MEG), the new production company set up by McCann Erickson-owned marketing agency Momentum. It is making Rogue, a cop thriller starring Thandie Newton, for DirecTV in the US.
I was brought in to run MEG; the prime focus is to make content for US cable networks and digital platforms.
Momentum is a marketing agency funded by McCann Erickson. They have no editorial input, I run [MEG] creatively. It came about because I had a web and digital agency in London called Greenroom Digital, which ended up with over 80 people and doing the marketing for Fox, Sony and Paramount in the UK and that was sold to Momentum.
For me, MEG is the opportunity to create a London and LA-focused business and an opportunity to invest in copros with the Canadian copro treaty.
The old TV model is broken, it doesn’t work anymore, it’s been disturbed by the way content is viewed and distributed. It has fundamentally affected production companies and networks, requirements are different and margins are lower, but at the same time there is a renaissance in US cable TV.
The network TV model is finished; it’s a dinosaur that has had its day.
It’s a ridiculous way to run a creative community. I fundamentally disagree with the piloting process at the networks, it’s about always hedging. It’s not backing creative talent and is entirely wasteful. I can’t see its validity. Network TV is not the same as ten years ago. Appointment TV doesn’t exist. People under 25 don’t watch. If it doesn’t reinvent itself it will wither on the vine.
We’re doing a show for Warner Brothers, a digital project. And Rogue for DirecTV.
The digital show is called The Seeker. It will be 10x10mins, a 100mins of content in all and it’s a cross between Bourne and 24. It’s for Warner Brothers and will be broadcast digitally; exactly how and where it is distributed is to be determined. It’s possible it will be rolled together to form one show. It’s also a different way of doing a pilot and testing material and it could be pushed forward in different ways. We have a script and are budgeting now. We haven’t started casting yet.
Rogue was a show ordered by DirecTV, it’s the story of an undercover cop and her relationship with a contemporary crime boss.
It’s a coproduction between Momentum Entertainment Group, Green Room and eOne and is set in San Francisco. It will star Thandie Newton and we’re making it under the Canada-UK coproduction treaty, which allows us to have a creative team composed from the EU and Canada with a sprinkling of talent from the US. We can combine the best of the UK and Canada. It’s a model we haven’t seen used in cable before.
Rogue is DirecTV’s Mad Men.
Every cable station needs its own defining drama to help give it its own original identity because on cable people have to go and find programmes, there’s not the same level of marketing and promotion as on network TV.
Ten years ago I would have had to go on bended knee to get major talent on a cable show.
Now, in cable there is now an enormous amount of talent and they will only work in either film or on cable. HBO and Showtime have proved there is a legitimate and solid audience for high-level drama it has opened doors for other people.
Cable has very high-level drama and comedy that speaks to its audience about contemporary issues; it is complicated, artistically challenging and relevant.
There is no need to provide a story wrapped up in each episode, although those [procedural] shows do have a part in television. Of course we’d work with the networks and if they wanted that type of show… but we should be so lucky.
I think cable is the new novel.
It is the new independent cinema. It tells story in a way that cinema no longer does and the creative community has moved from indie film to cable. At the same time, and combined with the revolution in digital distribution, the network TV market is dying.
I want to be in the vanguard of new distribution models for US cable TV and UK TV and digital.
Digital revenue streams yet to be proven. At the moment it’s about putting a flag in the sand. People like Warner Brothers are putting money behind projects because they create a brand that they can exploit. People like DirectTV will put money behind projects because they get a brand they can exploit.