On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, Lumina was exclusively invited to the High Commission of Canada in Trafalgar Square for the Banff Connect London event. With speakers from several of the major TV production studios, it was a fascinating insight into the latest trends and the emerging talent within TV development.
The panel consisted of:
- Moreyba Bidessie, Director of Scripted Development and Sales, A+E Networks
- Carlo Dusi, EVP Commercial Strategy – Scripted, Red Arrow Studios International
- Julie Meldal-Johnsen, EVP Global Content, ITV Global Entertainment
- Hilary Salmon, Head of Drama London, BBC Studios
- Polly Williams, Head of Scripted Drama – UK Television, Entertainment One
The timeline for investing and securing talent has shifted too. Salmon, from the BBC, discussed their process for upcoming co-productions with AMC Networks – which adjusted its development model to speed up the process. Previously, AMC Networks would secure the talent and develop ten scripts ahead of making a full decision. When working with the BBC, they reduced this to four scripts before making the decision to green-light the series. SVOD services have also changed the development process, as senior executives now consider their buyers, ideally having a director attached ahead of pitching. The panel agreed that development is becoming increasingly under pressure from large SVOD platforms – who appear to be securing talented household names – the competition to secure the best talent as early as possible is more and more competitive and complicated.
Across the panel, there was enthusiasm concerning the prospects for the UK and scripted TV development in the coming years. The UK remains Canada’s biggest co-production partner globally and Canadian businesses continue to recognise UK talent. We have seen the likes of Cineflix, Entertainment One and 9 Story Media Group – all with major offices in Downtown Toronto – investing heavily in UK productions and businesses. Cineflix Rights is a major UK arm, distributing TV content to broadcasters. 9 Story acquired Brown Bag Films several years ago – who have offices in Manchester, while Entertainment One is signing first-look deals with the likes of Eleven Films.
The talent pipeline is also robust for the future in the UK, with the theatre sector performing strongly, showcasing many young writing talents. The BBC are further encouraging young writers into the industry with their reach-out programmes, including the Writers Room. However, there was a concern that while weekly procedurals continue to be popular onscreen, young talents are growing up with gritty dramas, with little interest writing for period dramas, for example.
Banff World Media Festival is one of the leading industry festivals in Canada, hosted in the glorious resort town of Banff in the Canadian Rockies. It attracts over a thousand industry leaders from across North America and internationally, with 2019 marking its 40th anniversary and over 1,000 individual events planned across the 4 days. Banff Connect is their series of their international programmes as the festival grows onto the international festival stage.
We would like to thank Banff Connect London and the High Commission of Canada for the invitation and the warm welcome to the embassy (especially getting out of the pouring rain).