You  have  been  researching your  project  for  more  than  a  decade.  You  are  sure  that  it  would  make  the subject  of  a  stunning  television  documentary.  You  talk  to  a  variety  of  TV  producers,  who  show  some initial  interest,  but  nothing  ever  comes  of  it  -  WHY?   In  the  world  of  documentary style  programming –Science  and  Technology  is  the  fastest  growing  market  internationally  after  Natural  History  –  and,  in theory, the ever increasing number of TV channels increases the demand for good material.

This presentation aimed at scientists and science communicators will outline some of the factors which influence  the  decision  makers  in  the  TV  industry  when  it  comes  to  commissioning  a  major  science documentary.

The  first  hurdle  is  to  recognize  the  true  strength  of  the  idea.  There  is  a  great  deal  more  to  a  good documentary story than an interesting scientific development, however outstanding it may be.

But  -  getting  the  story  commissioned  involves  first  selling  the  idea.  The  competition  is  fierce  -  for every program that gets commissioned there are drawers full of proposals and treatments that didn’t quite make it.

Then the program has to be  financed.   Over and  above the competition between ideas is  the reality of the  changing  face  of  the  international  television  industry.  Programs  are  ”product”;  to  get  a  program commissioned  requires  putting  together  sometimes  quite  complex  deals,  where  the  investors  are  looking for returns.

Some of the issues  raised are:

Whether there is a future for programs to be commissioned on their merit alone, in the tradition of public  broadcasting  Budgetary  restrictions  leading  to  the  ubiquitous  international  co-production,  and the editorial compromises. Audience expectations with particular reference to cultural differences.Where possible the session will draw on examples of TV programs, subject to copy right clearance.
 

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 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

"l’ve got this great idea for a TV program?
..."

Alison Leigh  

You  have  been  researching your  project  for  more  than  a  decade.  You  are  sure  that  it  would  make  the subject  of  a  stunning  television  documentary.  You  talk  to  a  variety  of  TV  producers,  who  show  some initial  interest,  but  nothing  ever  comes  of  it  -  WHY?   In  the  world  of  documentary style  programming –Science  and  Technology  is  the  fastest  growing  market  internationally  after  Natural  History  –  and,  in theory, the ever increasing number of TV channels increases the demand for good material.

This presentation aimed at scientists and science communicators will outline some of the factors which influence  the  decision  makers  in  the  TV  industry  when  it  comes  to  commissioning  a  major  science documentary.

The  first  hurdle  is  to  recognize  the  true  strength  of  the  idea.  There  is  a  great  deal  more  to  a  good documentary story than an interesting scientific development, however outstanding it may be.

But  -  getting  the  story  commissioned  involves  first  selling  the  idea.  The  competition  is  fierce  -  for every program that gets commissioned there are drawers full of proposals and treatments that didn’t quite make it.

Then the program has to be  financed.   Over and  above the competition between ideas is  the reality of the  changing  face  of  the  international  television  industry.  Programs  are  ”product”;  to  get  a  program commissioned  requires  putting  together  sometimes  quite  complex  deals,  where  the  investors  are  looking for returns.

Some of the issues  raised are:

Whether there is a future for programs to be commissioned on their merit alone, in the tradition of public  broadcasting  Budgetary  restrictions  leading  to  the  ubiquitous  international  co-production,  and the editorial compromises. Audience expectations with particular reference to cultural differences.Where possible the session will draw on examples of TV programs, subject to copy right clearance.
 

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