TBI Weekly: Unscripted paper format creators you need to know (part 1)

Brat Camp

In June, TBI’s resident format expert Siobhan Crawford put out a call to those developing the most unique paper formats coming to market. Today, she takes a look at some of the best minds in the business and identifies an array of creators who you really need to know.

Let’s talk about paper.

Since committing to highlighting paper developers last month, I have had many conversations. I want to know why people develop independently, I want to know where they see the future of paper shows, the difficulties and barriers in selling, which markets are more accepting of paper and which have the better commercial models for this.

During the biggest economic downturn of recent memory, just what happens to paper formats?

Can we help creatives get their content out into the world in a more immediate way, where for once they are not the hunters but the hunted?

In a month where we find ourselves deterred by the end of HBO Max commissioning in parts of Europe, where Netflix releases Snowflake Mountain when it should have honestly acquired Brat Camp, and with announcements for the drastic reduction in content commissioning due to declining subscribers is rife, what about paper?

Playing the field

Unscripted formats in their essence are long-term games with no short-term rewards and a low success rate – but we do it, as one creative told me, because we are fascinated with new things and possibilities.

The world is global and that odd, obvious statement is poignant: content travelling and people pitching paper from country to country in their networks, purely for the love of their content and new things. The pandemic has ravaged many independent creators stability and ability to sell, especially those that do not have the financial safety net of a group and which are undeterred by the conscious bias of the broadcasters that want group content ‘safety’ instead of the unknown.

The whole point of this article was the PAY IT FORWARD mindset: the expression for when someone has benefited by a kindness and will return the favour to someone else. Can we help creatives get their content out into the world in a more immediate way, where for once they are not the hunters but the hunted?

In an industry where content grabbing is relentless, why not grab the new?

Siobhan Crawford

The below are independents, whose current drive is developing paper formats for export to the international market. All except one are unaffiliated. Does that mean you can swoop in with a $20k advance and some 30+5 BS? No, it does not.

Oldies but goodies

The concern in writing this is that you will have heard some of these names before. But hey, if you don’t speak to them, then this is a reminder you should.

Dream Spark – the one and only Moe Bennani is now an independent. The ex-Talpa creative has made his first hire and the slate is growing.

Phileas – Sergio Sancho, understated but incredibly hard working, generating 3-4 new paper formats each market. Most successful in Spanish speaking markets to date, many of you will be scheduling pre-MIPs with this man.

Free Kings – ex-Blazhoffski Belgium duo Muriel and Geert have been focused on the food space with the success of Bake Off but they have an expanding portfolio of paper formats. Content that will naturally resonate in Nordics & Western Europe too.

Single & ready to mingle
Solo/duo creators of unscripted content. Have a good rifle through for the gems:

Chris Lowden – Chris has multiple active projects with international partners, he is using his personal connections to find homes. So far most of his deals are outside of Europe.

Angell Brothers – Tom and Miles are dedicated creatives who also work in the branded content space. Their last two formats were with Magnify Media. Their name will pop up as more of us internationals befriend them.

Kirsten Jan van Nieuwenhuijzen – Kirsten Jan is one half of the team behind Keshet dating format Singletown and he has now co-developed The Connection for BNNVARA with solid ratings.

Anssi Rimpelä – the first commissioned format from Anssi will be broadcast this fall on YLE, The World According To Comedians. Ask him to talk about his favourite format and be as intrigued as I was.

Remember, all we are looking for is ORIGINAL, returning formats not associated with talent but with plenty of international appeal. These creatives have as much chance as the groups of creating the next big thing and are even more incentivised to do it!

(Remember, you can go back to the first columns about who really cares about your content for tips on partnering – find them here and here.)

[To get in touch with Siobhan, email: [email protected]]

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