10 Questions About International Multi-Platform Co-Production - An Interview With Shawn Bailey


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10 Questions About International Multi-Platform Co-Production - An Interview With Shawn Bailey

  1. 1. questions about International Multi-Platform Co-Production an interview with Shawn Bailey 10 Thursday, March 27, 2014
  2. 2. Shawn has been producing and overseeing innovative Canadian digital and broadcast content and technologies for over 15 years. Having served as Head of Digital Entertainment and Special Projects for CBC, Shawn was one of the first Producers/Broadcast Executive and Commissioner to work across all arms of the Broadcaster, overseeing, creating and producing hundreds of convergent and stand alone projects for Digital, Television, Radio, Mobile and Live Event programming. In 2009, Shawn moved back into Independent Production as the Canadian Director of Chocolate Liberation Front, helping to launch the company and overseeing Feature Film development as well as digital projects for Kids in the Hall’s Death Comes to Town and The Kratt Brother’s Wild Kratts series. In 2011 Shawn launched his own production company, Orangepaperlip. His recent credits include Product of Italy, a 20 episode interactive food series designed for tablet and smart tv, season 1 of the award winning web series Bill and Sons Towing and the digital portion of the Gemini nominated documentary We Will Remember Them. He is currently working on a new Feature Film, in production on the interactive documentary Craftsmanship and developing a new interactive food series The Picnic Crew for tablet and television. who is shawn bailey? Thursday, March 27, 2014
  3. 3. Tell us a bit about a couple of International Co-Production projects you have worked on? What platforms were involved & how did you structure the arrangements?1Doctor Who, Taken and the Tudors. I was also involved at the service level on Wild Kratts with TVO and PBS. Taken and Doctor Who were online projects done alongside our US and UK partners while the Tudors was produced for Television and online. In the case of Taken, Doctor Who and the Tudors, we created stand alone content that was then made available to our partners and they did the same. We worked together, but with each party building mainly for their own broadcast needs. Most of this was pre- agreement days, so it allowed us to produce our own content within the guidelines of our countries while sharing and working together on how it would all fit together in the end. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  4. 4. Which countries have you worked with and why? Have you coproduced with these countries before? How familiar were you with their funding structures going in?2Mostly the UK, Australia and the US. During my time at the CBC we had a great relationship with the BBC and seemed to be quite interested in what we were both up to since we shared similar mandates and programming lines. Early on in my career at CBC, both BBC and CBC were doing a lot of innovative interactive projects that we often connected over, so through that I was introduced to a number of UK based production companies and some really talented individuals. Australia and Canada have fairly similar funding models as well as similar tastes in programming. Around 2005-06, while still at CBC, my counterparts and I at the BBC and ABC began holding monthly video conferences with our collective teams to discuss our current development slates. Through those meetings we were introduced to new projects that we may have been interested in when we normally would have seen them once they’d gone to market in either Australia or the UK. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  5. 5. Continued...2These meetings allowed us to get involved in the production stages, rather than just acquiring projects. It also allowed us to reach out to our own independent production communities and make introductions. The other key thing it allowed us to do was to really talk through the details of our production process, funding availability and issues, content focuses, technology and talent. In the beginning, I had an idea of the funding structures that existed in these countries, but it was through these discussions and the ones I was having with international Producers and content creators at festivals and conferences that I truly began to understand the mechanics behind how they funded and created content. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  6. 6. Tell us about the financial structure of your coproduction: what percentage Canadian contribution and what percentage was from the other country or countries?3Due to the requirements of the funders at the time, everything we produced was Canadian. We would then licence our part to the other partners in exchange for their content to form the whole. The license fees allowed us to raise larger budgets and spread our focus across the partners, so we could each do more with our part of the larger picture. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  7. 7. How did you find your coproduction partners? Or how did they find you? 4Having been the Head of Digital at the CBC, I had the advantage of meeting a tremendous amount international Producers, Broadcasters, Funders and Trade Commission Officials. I still meet a lot of people meet at conferences and festivals or via introductions from people I’ve worked with, or met,in the past. Most of the projects I’ve been involved with stemmed from the people I met during my time at the CBC and the relationships I’ve maintained as a result. Contacting the various trade organizations, funding agencies or the consulate of the country, or countries, you want to partner with can be a great place to start if your new to the industry or maybe not as aware of who is out there that can, and would be interested, in joining forces. The same can be said for the organizations that exist where you operate. They are always in discussion with their global counterparts, and even if they don't have the answer you need they can almost always point you in the right direction. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  8. 8. continued...4I also subscribe to a number of online feeds and trade publications from other countries. I find I’m always finding someone or something interesting that then finds me looking up the person or company and reaching out to them. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  9. 9. What were you primary motivations going in? Where you motivated primarily by financing concerns, finding the right partners for your concepts? Were your coproduction partners familiar to you already?5Financing is now probably the leading motivation for co-production, but in a lot of cases, the projects I’ve been involved in were ones that generally ended up being of interest to the same Broadcasters or Distributors. Somewhere along the line we started talking at the beginning of a project about making something that worked for everyone and was that much better as a result of the upfront increase in financing for all. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  10. 10. Did those countries have formal digital or multiplatform agreements in place? Did this help or hinder the process?6Co-production agreements are fairly new in the digital industry still, but a lot has been done by the various funds and governments to enable these productions to happen. Most of the projects I was involved in pre-dated these agreements, and in some cases helped shaped the language and agreements we have today. Not having these agreements made structuring deals a long, drawn out process, sometimes resulting in things taking too much time to get going and being turned off. In some situations we collectively just couldn’t figure out how to make something work based on the laws governing each of the partners. The agreements we have now are an evolving and important step in growing sales, financing and talent related to projects. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  11. 11. What were your key learnings? What worked, what didn't work? What did you wish you knew going into the process? 7Pre-production, pre-production, pre-production... The reality is that everyone has rules and regulations that they have to adhere to to ensure they remain in good favour with their corresponding territories in terms of content, financing and ownership. This may seem straightforward in theory, but in practice it can end up requiring a number of complex deal points - there are a lot of moving parts to any deal and co-production exponentially adds to the process. Every partner has requirements in terms of ownership, percentage of production happening within their territory, content focus and platform needs. Starting out with a clear, shared plan of what everyone requires and what roles or division of labour is best for all is critical. One of the most common mistakes in a true co- production scenario is that everyone gets excited about the project and then leaves the meeting table and starts developing their own vision of what’s been discussed. As a Producer and Partner I think it’s imperative that you understand how financing, funding and content production work for each of your other partners and that they understand the requirements of the agreements that you are bound to. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  12. 12. One of the most common problems I’ve seen and heard of a lot with projects is that they ended up with ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ syndrome. It’s something that can happen really fast, and without any malintent. Everyone gets excited in meetings and immediately sets off to produce things the way they are used to. Not only can it create a situation where everyone sees themselves as the project lead, but tone, cultural nuances, design and technology can begin to clash with the result being a mess. In my experience, where content is collectively produced, sharing teams across territories to work on the same production components hasn’t worked that well unless the team members can work from one location together. Things like timezones and production process can work with a bit of give and take for global team meetings, but in the day to day build, having members of the team start when the others have gone home, or having to get team members to do daily Skype calls either super early or late at night can wear a team out pretty fast. Not to mention the lag in answering emails about critical code or design issues. continued...7 Thursday, March 27, 2014
  13. 13. What is the best advice you can give a producer who is thinking about international co-production?8Educate yourself and really understand the funding and production models of the country, or countries, you are looking to partner with. Look at how financing flows, and what production milestones are required by each partner, financier and possible fund. It’s a huge undertaking, so understanding and respecting your partner is a given if you hope to build a longterm relationship. It takes a lot of commitment to build trust in each other, so be smart and don’t forget that this might not be the only project you and your partner, or partners, end up doing together. The easiest way to stay on top of what’s happening around the world is to keep in touch. It’s amazing how many people, and other companies, you’ll meet via your partners. People move around, start new things and are always coming up with ideas, so never lose sight of the possibilities the future holds. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  14. 14. What are the top three things a producer should consider when contemplating an international coproduction?9Know what you are looking for in seeking an international partner. Is it financing, creative or developing new markets? Just going in with the idea of increasing your budget is still considering your potential partners as acquisition sales and not production. Try to clarify your needs to yourself and then start looking at where you can look to either grow or help fill in some of the missing pieces. Look for partners you can work and grow with. You don’t need to be looking for a mirror of yourself, but if you can’t get along then the production isn’t going to be that much fun and probably won’t lead to a future desire to work together. Do your homework when it comes to contracting. Really know how your partner’s business works so you don’t get caught in unexpected situations. Thursday, March 27, 2014
  15. 15. With the older projects funding was contained to each partners territory. We would each make our version of the framework and build our own content. The key was in working together to come up with a content plan that insured we all weren't producing the same thing beyond the basic generic content. So someone would focus on videos while another might build a game or two. By working together this way we were able to pre- licence and share content with each other that left us all with a larger project than we could have attained on our own. The current agreements are evolving to allow content to be produced in the same manner as we're seeing with large scale television and film projects where filming and post is happening across the partner countries and in conjunction with the funds. The difference from before is that everyone is collectively at the table and working together to build better offerings and work out marketing. It's a lot more focused on how a project is globally supported these days. How did funding work with these projects? Were there any roadblocks that made it difficult to work across countries? to what extent did similar funding systems help or hinder your ability to set up a coproduction 10 Thursday, March 27, 2014
  16. 16. In terms of roadblocks, I've never had the experience of anyone trying to stop a project from moving ahead. There's always been a positive collaboration to see things happen. The issues were always around sorting out everyone's needs and the agreements each of us was bound to. Sometimes one partner would be commercially driven to sell ads and sponsorships while another was precluded from doing so. Trying to sort through the idea of each of us building projects in pieces meant having to change our outlook from internally building and then seeing everyone else's bit as an acquisition and starting to think and work together with the idea of creating THE project as a whole together. Business models, financing, distribution and production all had to be tweaked over the ten years to get us moving in this direction. Having similar funding structures just eases the way we all converse and strategize over what needs to be done. It streamlines everything and also allows us to collectively, and globally, sort through how we continue to evolve production. I do like a bit of variance though in the funding models because it keeps bringing new ideas to the table or challenges us to catch up in other circumstances. continued...10 Thursday, March 27, 2014
  17. 17. get in touch! TMC Resource Kit info@tmcresourcekit.com tmcresourcekit.com Co_Production Interview prepared by: Anthea Foyer redsquidlab.com @redsquidlab with the help of Zan Chandler zanchandler.com Thursday, March 27, 2014