Report – Commissioner Conversations: Disney and Sony
The session began with a presentation by changemaker Holly Churches, a post production coordinator working on Thomas and Friends. Holly works with charity KEYPR (Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees), raising money for children’s charity UNICEF.
- The commissioners and acquisitions teams are keen to hear about great content and have open door policies
- The main focus is on animation but commissioners are open to live action content.
Sarah Muller from Sony was the first speak at the session, discussing her new role at Sony, running their three channels – Tiny Pop, Pop and Pop Max. Sarah explained that her vision for the channels will always revolve around content, as they want to offer their audiences the absolute best.
Sony are reluctant to be prescriptive about the content, or whether they are looking for commissions or acquisitions, as content will always be the thing that they value the most. For now, the focus for Sony is going to be on animated content, with the live-action scripted and factual content coming later on. In the short term, Sarah said that Sony do not have development money, so the focus is going to be on acquiring of pre-developed content. Sony are also particularly looking to partially finance content, as they do not provide full finance for projects.
Matthew Robson and Orion Ross of Disney then spoke together, talking the audience though a number of their shows that are either on-air, or yet to air – Claude, 101 Dalmatian Street, and Big City Greens. A recurring theme of commissioner conversations, Matthew and Orion stressed the importance for producers of knowing the channel to which they are pitching – they want shows that fit with their branding and the Disney tone, but it needs to bring something fresh to the schedule.
When it comes to seeing pitches, Disney like to see things as early on as possible, said Matthew and Orion. As with a lot of broadcasters, Disney like to make their mark on the project, and develop it along with the producer of the show.
The best projects are often those which are low-concept, but have great people attached to them, Orion said. Creators should bear in mind that UK Disney do not have the animation teams that US Disney do, so producers should pair up with an independent studio, advised Orion. UK Disney do not have the resources to provide animators.
Overall, commissioners talked about being very keen to talk to talent about great ideas, and working with talent who have a clear vision and passion for their ideas.
Written by Shannon Reeve
Sixth Sense Media
Sony Pictures Television
VP Children’s and Youth Programming (Western Europe International Networks)
Disney Channels EMEA
Vice President, Content – Animation, Digital & Acquisitions
Children’s Series & Development Producer
Founder & Director
Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees