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Panel: Channel News: Budgets, Projects and Targets

Posted on: Monday 14 March 2016 12:19pm by Rob Doherty

Tony Collingwood (Collingwood & Co.) welcomed Jackie Edwards (BBC Children’s), Nina Hahn (Nickelodeon International Production & Development) and Orion Ross (Disney Channels EMEA)

Tony asked each of the speakers to introduce themselves and tell the audience what they are looking for as content for their channels

Jackie Edwards: is across acquisitions for CBBC and CBeebies.  BBC Children’s is, in general, looking to pre-buy animation and live action and CBBC and CBeebies have a range of different ways of acquiring content and working with producers.

There have been a lot of changes recently at BBC Children’s, with a very positive move towards the department being better recognized within the corporation, and with clearer lines of reporting for CBBC and CBeebies acquisitions. Jackie has taken on the role of acquiring for both channels, having previously looked after only CBeebies.

IMG_2903Orion Ross: Heads up the regional team that looks after original content across all three Disney channels (XD, Disney & Disney Jnr). Orion showed a clip of a new show currently in production. It was originally pitched as a one-sheet idea to Orion. ‘Counterfeit Cat’ is a UK-Canada Co-Pro treaty production (52 x 11’). Disney has in this case licensed the show, rather than owning it.

Most of the Disney European production deals are co-productions either across various Disney territories or occasionally with local broadcasters.

Nina Hahn: Heads up production and development for Nickelodeon. There are 70 Nick channels across the world and they are looking for content across all channels, both animation and live action.

They are always looking for strong, creator-driven content and they look across the globe.

It’s a very playful channel. Nina showed two clips of currently aired shows – ‘Digby’, a Blue Zoo produced preschool show and ‘Pinky & Linky’, a Chris Garbutt created show for the main Nickelodeon channel.

Tony Collingwood said he was pleased they were all embracing UK Talent and posed the question: “At what stage do you like to see stuff?”

Jackie Edwards said that the process at the BBC was changing as they are about to employ a person to look ,manage all the content as it comes in and they would be taking the first look.

It didn’t mater at what stage the idea came to them, but always be sure that it is distinctive and different if you want it to be considered.

Orion Ross was adamant that he likes to see ideas early, but also looks for strong creator/talent attached. A great track record helps, whether that’s on YouTube or in an established traditional sense, it’s the depth of talent that really helps. Stubborn talent. This didn’t mean that newcomers could not find their way through if the idea was sufficiently distinctive – and in that case they would probably want to see more than they might if the idea came from an established ”name

Nina Hahn agreed that, as long as the vision is clear, she would rather see it early as it allows a dialogue from early in development.

Tony Collingwood then asked; are you proactive in bringing individual talent and studios together.

Jackie: Yes, and we also have an in-house development team.

Nina & Orion: yes.

Audience questions:

Lindsay Watson: Can you give advice to a prospective producer as to how to get a producer credit? And what budgets are you looking at (for series)?

Jackie thought that for the credit question it would be whatever you’d agreed with the production company, and that you have had a significant production input on the show. There are clear BBC guidelines as to who gets what credit.

Re the question on budgets: Children’s BBC buy via acquisitions (5 year licence with unlimited plays) up to 24% of a “reasonable budget”, which can be more for UK originated shows with the intent to produce in the UK.

Nina agreed that the credit would be a deal negotiation with the production company, dependent on role on the show.  Budget is a difficult question as each project is different in its production and structure, with so many shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all budget.

Orion stated that for a Euro co-pro Disney would generally put in between a quarter to a third of the budget. An acquisition would be less, but as Nina said, it would always be specific and production dependent.

Ollie Hyatt: With regard to the BBC Animate Project – will it be repeated next year?

Jackie said that it was not confirmed but being looked into, but there are other ways still available – pitch as per normal.

Greg Childs: what are your positions on taking VoD rights?

Jackie said that the BBC did not want to prevent producers from making money by licensing to Netflix. There had been up to recently a 5 year hold-back, but that the policy was now amended to 2 years. This can be negotiated shorter in extreme circumstances. Essentially it is constantly changing as the landscape is so fluid.

Orion quipped with more than a grain of truth that most of their contract time is now spent on this issue. He agreed with Jackie that it’s changing all the time and each project is looked at differently. He is fully aware that the money must come from somewhere else, if Disney are only part funding and therefore a happy middle ground needs to be met.

Nina agreed and said that they always looked at in a holistic way, with each individual production being funded differently.

Tony Collingwood: Now that Viacom own Channel 5. Does the relationship between Nickelodeon and Milk Shake change anything?

Nina said that Cross-pollination is certainly on the agenda, and that content has always gone back and forth and will continue to do so.

Anne-Marie Corvin from Broadcast Magazine asked “what are you looking for?”

Orion: great female characters. Appeal to boys and girls. And female creators.

Nina: Anything that fits the Nick bill – Gender neutral. Aspirational. Creator driven.

Jackie: For CBBC, specifically a girl ensemble piece – though smart rather than princess-y. Also a high-octane action-adventure with a public service heart.

CBeebies is less prescriptive, but steered by small steps into big ideas, with great, relatable characters. Thematically distinctive.

Rob Doherty 

About the author

Rob Doherty

Festivus, Animation Producer and Consultant

Rob has 20 years experience in the animation industry. He has worked in every format of animation and in many countries around the world, as well as on both sides of the production/broadcast divide; working for ITV, Aardman, Disney, M2 Films, Endemol, Initial Productions, TVC Cartoons, Grand Slamm Children’s Films,… Read more

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