TBI Weekly: Unscripted paper format creators you need to know (part 2)

16 Ukers Helvete

Format creatives and their ideas are in demand, but where can you find them and what types of shows are on offer? Luckily for you, TBI’s resident format expert Siobhan Crawford has scoured the globe to provide you with another set of names making the paper format market a brighter place.

Put your hands up if you paid it forward this past month. Now put your hands up if you digitally stalked my suggestions. Now put your hands down and walk away if you made rubbish/non-committal inquiries!



Europe offers the best commercial deal structures and execs will be able to advise you on multiple territories strategy

This is the second instalment illuminating names you should know, or get to know, for new unscripted formats. Remember, this is a relationships industry and so how big your network is really does matter and as we have said before, your experience working with these people should guide your future actions and decisions.

Let’s support the creatives who keep going in this sometimes disheartening industry, who spam us with emails because they know one of those emails will one day work! Reward new ideas, originality will happen. Not that the latest news of another astrology dating format gives you any hope.

Paper problems

When speaking with content creators, the one recurring issue seems to be the same: once they have an idea, what next? How should they finesse/format the content, where to take it, whether to attach talent, to accept the strategy of their partner? To cling on for creative oversight?

Now this is bigger than a single column can accommodate but the genuine advice, as I have said before – find a format specialist! A distributor, and an international one at that, which has to mean someone who works in the European markets. There is such a void between conception and commission, and, astoundingly, creatives believe they have to go to the UK and US to pitch first.

Europe is the best, redirect! Strategically, Europe will offer the best commercial deal structures and the executives here will be able to advise you on multiple territories strategy.

Siobhan Crawford

Ironically, group companies have exactly the same issue, I was told. If it does not sell locally, they are curious, could they export it to another territory by pitching it themselves (bypassing the corporate beast? So take light relief, it is not just you!

Third party party!

Hoorah, another fund! ITV Studios joined this particular party in July, but as a non-broadcaster investing in third-party paper, this raises curious questions as to how they navigate the broadcasters’ demands on IP plus their share. And is it not the same hurdle to get paper formats commissioned by broadcasters, just with a thoroughbred as your steed? At least it means another hunter for content is on the scene.

Names in lights

Ready to mingle this month, and trying to keep our coverage truly global:

• Bernhard Hendling – the Austrian ex-commissioner is a hard working man, consulting for broadcasters, co-developing a format with Media Ranch and with a UK development to be announced soon.

• Carl Schultz – South Africa is not a market that comes to mind for paper but genuinely lovely producers should be appreciated globally! Ex-Endemol Shine, Carl is on a mission to get South Africa on the map and he also assists other creatives to finesse their formats for the European market.

• Orhan Gazi Karamanoglu – ‘We create originality’ is just the best tagline in our industry. Turkey has always been open to paper formats, daring even, and thankfully Orhan founded Qontent entirely focused on unscripted, so the catalogue is growing. Find a gem.

• Nexiko – the growing Nordic production group is behind shows such as Discovery’s 16 Ukers Helvete (aka 16 Weeks Of Hell) and they actively work with you and have international ambitions for their content, with unique formats like True Colours. This is a company you want on your ‘regular’ list.

• European public broadcasters – broad, I know, but you have to consider DR, NRK, SVT, VRT, BNNVARA etc. There is a reason they have distributors asking for exclusive deals. They have seasonal gems that have great central ideas and can be formatted!

Next up is the most expensive market on our schedules, Edinburgh. A market that swoons at US participation and is oblivious to formats. Ooh, the joy is palpable! But note, next year I think we should swoon over MIP Africa as something special is coming from this region, watch this space!

To check out Siobhan’s first article exploring paper format creators, click here.

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