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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Cineflix Rights

Programming Profile

Cineflix Rights showcases 2021 slate at Cineflix Content Fest

01-03-2021

Cineflix Rights head of acquisitions Richard Life, head of scripted James Durie and senior members of the global sales team reveal the UK-based distributor’s London Screenings playlist and discuss global trends impacting their 2021 slate.

 

As the focus of international buyers shifts to the UK for February and the first two weeks of March, London-based Cineflix Rights, the UK’s largest independent TV content distributor, has launched a new web platform. The Cineflix Content Fest has been created to showcase the distributor’s premium factual and scripted programming.

 

“Our engaging, interactive online experience will preview new factual and scripted content to global buyers in a creative way, allowing them to explore our new shows in their own time,” says Cineflix Rights head of acquisitions Richard Life. “We’re adapting to the new normal of bringing our slate to buyers via digital means.”

 

“We now have great experience in delivering digital screenings to the market, as we did at the start of the first lockdown with the e-premiere of The Minister [8×60’],” adds head of scripted James Durie. “Alongside our returning series, we will be introducing two new scripted shows at the London Screenings.”

 

Life
Richard Life, Cineflix Rights

Buccaneer Media’s crime procedural Whitstable Pearl (6×60’) is created by iconic Norwegian filmmaker Øystein Karlsen (Exit, Dag, Lilyhammer), starring Kerry Godliman (Derek, After Life) as Pearl, a restaurant-owning private investigator uncovering dead bodies and long-buried secrets in the beautiful English coastal resort of Whitstable.

 

TF1’s Marcella remake Rebecca (8×60′), follows a tormented yet brilliant Parisian detective who is battling depression and a series of blackouts while piecing together a brutal murder investigation.

 

Chris Bluett, senior VP of sales for Asia Pacific and Benelux, says crime drama remains big business internationally. “In Australia, our crime and espionage shows such as Marcella [24×60’] and Mirage [6×60′] are doing well, alongside foreign-language series The Minister and An Ordinary Woman [17×60’],” he says.

 

Durie
James Durie, Cineflix Rights

The London Screenings is a chance for Cineflix to demonstrate an evolution into the international scripted space, building on the global success for titles such as Tehran (8×60′) with Apple TV+, and how its slate will develop over the next 18 months. “The market is evolving so rapidly that this combination between international and English-speaking series, covering established IP, premium talent and recognisable genres, is the correct formula for future growth,” says Durie.

 

For its C21 London Screenings playlist, Cineflix Rights is focusing on its unscripted slate. First up, I Got Lucky (14×30’) is a popular science series from Canada’s Cream Productions, offering a unique take on the survival genre. “It combines amazing user-generated and other clips of survival situations and deconstructs them using science,” says Life.

 

WWII by Drone (6×60′) is the next playlist title, a factual series that explores the historic period through a new lens. “We’re delighted to be working again with producers Like a Shot,” says Life. “World War Two is always in demand from buyers, but there’s fatigue with relying on talking heads and archive. This series has a really excellent present-tense, investigative narrative, with experts including battle archaeologists and historians working with scientists using new technology, such as aerial and underwater drones, to deconstruct some of the period’s key moments. This results in a really rich range of human stories with new revelations.”

 

The next three playlist titles – I Saw It: Bigfoot & Beyond (2×60’), Shark Terror: USS Indianapolis (2×60’) and Green River Killer: Hunting the Monster (4×60’) – come from Hoff Productions, a regular collaborator with Cineflix Rights.

 

I Got Lucky
I Got Lucky

“The shows are special because of their original take on a recognisable story, featuring new contributors and exploring fresh angles,” says Life. “The central element of I Saw It: Bigfoot & Beyond is the two guys behind the famous 1960s footage of Bigfoot. The series broadens out with similar ‘myths vs reality’ stories, such as the Loch Ness Monster – looking at why they’ve become so powerful in the public’s consciousness.”

 

Shark Terror: USS Indianapolis offers another interesting take on history, says Life. “It’s a survival story and a historical investigation, examining what happened to the ship and why it took so long for the survivors to be rescued. It uncovers new details about a top-secret mission that went horribly wrong. It’s also a study of extraordinary animal behaviour – the biggest mass shark attack in history.”

 

Life continues: “On the true crime front, Hoff’s previous series Ted Bundy: Serial Monster, has done very well for us. We’re really pleased to have a similar show, Green River Killer: Hunting the Monster, investigating Gary Ridgway, one of America’s most prolific serial killers. The FBI was starting to use profiling to catch criminals, which makes the series so interesting.”

 

Shark Terror: USS Indianapolis
Shark Terror: USS Indianapolis

For Lucinda Gergley-Garner, senior VP of sales for North America and German-speaking territories, true crime is a genre that still drives viewers, particularly in the US. “True crime continues to work well, with more and more networks adding it to their schedules. The more sophisticated, deep dives are especially in demand,” she says.

 

Bluett has also seen true crime maintain success in international markets, across traditional linear broadcasting and the more recent digital players. “Australian buyers are on the lookout for noisy content and big promotable shows. True crime is doing well in the territory,” he says. “Seven Network recently took rights for The Clown and the Candyman [4×60’] for its linear and AVoD services.”

 

Sandra Piha, senior VP of sales, pan-regional, UK, Eire and Scandinavia, reports similar appetite for true crime. “Premium true crime is always in demand. The Clown and the Candyman recently sold to Viaplay in Denmark and Norway and TV4 Sweden, and recently launched on Discovery+ in the US,” she says.

 

Inside the Forest: Seasons of Wonder
Inside the Forest: Seasons of Wonder

Inside the Forest: Seasons of Wonder (4×60’), produced by ITN Productions for the UK’s Channel 5, is next on the playlist. It’s a blue-chip, nature documentary, telling the story of Kielder Forest in the North of England over the course of a year. “What makes this series so special is how it films the changing face of a forest and its inhabitants, from the smallest insects to the biggest mammals, beautifully capturing how the flora and fauna changes over the seasons. It’s a wonderfully escapist series,” says Life.

 

Piha, meanwhile, highlights demand for UK series in the Nordics. “British factual and scripted content continues to sell well. Culturally, there is a relatability between both countries, so we’ve been successful in placing a lot of our UK content in the territories,” she says.

 

Gergley-Garner has also seen UK projects travelling well in the US. “Audiences now seem more open to British programming. The streamers have helped showcase a lot of foreign series, so there’s more acceptance of different accents,” she says.

 

The World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys
The World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys

The World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys (29×60’), from BriteSpark Films, takes the next playlist slot. “It’s much more than just a warm-bath travel show with beautiful landscapes and cool trains; it has tons of takeaway, history, science and engineering, natural history and more,” says Life.

 

Inside Taronga Zoo (26×60’), from McAvoy Media, is the final playlist title. “The series is an example of our ‘pre-sale to greenlight’ strategy,” says Life. “It came to us with only a third of the budget in place, and we were able to pull together the financing through deals with Channel 4 and National Geographic. The show’s success is down to an appealing cast of passionate keepers, along with the heart-warming stories of conservation and wonderful insights into animal behaviour,” Life adds.

 

As the pandemic continues to delay and cancel physical industry events, Cineflix has adapted to the current market with Cineflix Content Fest. “We were able to react quickly to the changing environment. Our acquisitions and sales teams have been working continuously, acquiring new content and negotiating deals with buyers,” says Life.

 

Coroner
Coroner

“We’ve accelerated our amended launch strategy, launching shows throughout the year to keep our catalogue fresh, and we’re seeing continued strong demand. We’ll continue to develop our digital strategy, but markets will remain a central part of our activities, particularly the bigger ones such as Mipcom, the LA Screenings and Natpe.”

 

New platform launches are helping Life feel buoyant about the year ahead. “We’re confident in both factual and scripted and are currently seeing increased demand from buyers at new outlets alongside existing customers,” he says. “The launch of new platforms including Discovery+ has focused attention from other factual buyers that are looking to consolidate lines of supply and, in some areas, increase them. Our scripted business has quickened considerably over the last two years and we want to continue this momentum.”

 

For Bluett, the global rise in streaming platforms has fed into this greater demand. “VoD platforms are on the rise in Asia as studios and major tech companies drive towards a direct-to-consumer model,” he says. “The proliferation and growth of local services throughout Asia means demand for content has never been higher for both SVoD and AVoD platforms, with the latter core to broadcasters’ overall offering.”

 

The Minister
The Minister

“Networks in Australia are combating global and local SVoD players, such as Netflix, Stan and Foxtel’s recently launched Binge, with a stronger focus now on securing rights for their AVoD services,” Bluett adds.

 

Durie says the growth in scripted demand has allowed the company to evolve beyond its boutique beginnings while retaining its core ideals. “Every decision we make to get on board a series is not done in a vacuum; it needs to fit our strategy of backing creatively strong pieces, while retaining a commercial appeal,” he says.

 

“We’re growing beyond our boutique reputation, with the size and number of projects – four or five new series in the next 12 months – which represents the confidence and scope of our sales and distribution capabilities in the ever-buoyant TV marketplace.”



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