StoryScout 2024

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

U.S. Nonfiction Producers: Where Are They Located? Mostly in LA? Maybe!

Where can you find the producers who supply U.S. Factual networks?

  • New York?
  • LA?
  • Maybe London?
  • Are there other centers of development and production?

These questions are important:

  • For non-fiction producers:
    • Where are you most likely to get on a network’s radar?
    • Should you establish offices or representation in multiple locations?
  • For networks:
    • Where should you locate LBA, Development and other resources?
    • Where will you find your next wave of executive talent?
  • For young hopefuls:
    • Where is production scaled so that it promises lots of entry level work?


  • We surveyed 2012 programming announcements for 20 +/- channels.
  • We tracked down the locations of 200+/- producers who were cited.
  • We put them in 5 buckets:
    • LA
    • New York
    • Other US
    • UK
    • Other International.


  • This is useful sensitivity analysis.
  • It is based on extensive but selective data.
  • It is not a comprehensive survey of network schedules and their supply chains.
  • And remember: most US channels apply a strategic filter to the release of information about their programs.




  • The diversity of sources was somewhat of a surprise.
  • I expected that the LA region (41%) would be more dominant, reflecting the surging tide of agent-represented, character-based programming.
  • Pawn Stars’ producer Leftfield Pictures illustrates the continuing success of New York as a production center (21%).
  • ‘Other US’ (22%) is mostly comprised of Washington DC-area producers.
    • But there are surprising number of other centers.
    • Glancing at my database, I see Towers Productions and Harpo in Chicago, Powderhouse in Boston, RIVR Media in Tennessee, Hoff Productions in the Bay Area, Stage 3 in Philadelphia, and lots more.
  • Emerging producers from smaller markets tend to ‘marry up’ with established players.
    • This skews the data away from the center and towards the coasts.
  • All of this underlines the reality that great concepts come from smart people and not trendy zipcodes. That’s why the best developers keep their doors open to pitches from everywhere.


  • It is remarkable how well-represented and successful are UK-based producers (10%)
  • Many of them like September Films and ITV Studios enjoy long-running operations over here.
  • The success of UK independents is partly an outcome of how the UK producers won a battle to legislate a framework that gives them equity in their IP’s
  • How unlike the US where the channels typically take all but a sliver of the value!

Other International

I’m confident that the ‘Other International’ sector will expand. Why?

  • Asia and other regional markets are evolving fast.
  • Their sophisticated producers will partner up with US and other international talent to make inroads into the  multi-, multi-billion dollar US nonfiction production industry.


  • Thanks to our editorial associate Alexander Watson for capturing the preliminary data.
  • We intend to expand and refine the coverage and go deeper with the analysis.
  • We’ll also isolate documentary commissions from the Reality tide.

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