StoryScout 2024

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

GZ DOC Panel: Global Factual Content Summit: 2021 VOD Platforms & Festivals

What are the key demand trends in the documentary sector across platforms, and how are the festivals responding?

That was the ambitious topic for this morning’s recording of an engaging panel for the upcoming Guangzho International Documentary Film Festival 2021.

China had almost fallen off my radar after many years of deep involvement in the emerging market.

I”m sharing GZ Doc guidelines for today’s panel, plus my very topline impressions to remind readers that the world’s most populous nation and #2 economy deserve far more attention than many of us have given it.


Moderator: Paul Lewis, Director, World Congress of Science & Factual Content


  • Mike Ning, Factual Content Director of Documentary, iQIYI
  • Xin Zhang, Head of Factual and Cultural Department, ByteDance
  • Jean-Jacques Peretti, Editorial Consultant , Sunny Side of the Doc
  • And myself.

Panel producer: Yali How

The pandemic has accelerated profound transformations in the movie industry, strengthening the hand of digital platforms. The mass OTT market continues to thrive as OTT video subscribers surpass two billion by 2025. Meanwhile, online and hybrid film festivals are presenting events, panel and keynote talks, speed meetings and round table discussions online, tied up with OTT platforms.

We’ll look into the different approaches of various platforms and further explore where relation between platforms and film fest ivals goes in the future and how they collaboratively promote the development of the industry.

Panel Questions

  1. Despite to the feud between the world’s leading streaming service Netflix and the most prestigious film festival Cannes, more and more film festivals started collaborating with OTT platforms, screenings, panels, pitching session. How does your platform/film festival collaborate with the other?
  2. In the case of that streaming service usually acquires its foothold in the film industry by courting big-name directors rather than discovering new talent, the film festivals devotes to discovering the promising filmmakers. In your opinions, what are possible approaches to connect both ends?
  3. The type of films that usually screen at film festival are increasingly distributed through streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. Today, major OTT platforms are the world’s biggest film distributors, how would we cooperate on the distribution and publicity of films.

Peter’s First Impressions

  • China is a world leader in developing large-scale online platforms like TikTok that link video programmig with social media engagement and transactions.  Their expanding appetites for higher-level story-telling and production values present opportunities for unscripted producers, especially in the Lifestyle category.
  • Traditional documentaries are commissioned by CCTV’s various channels and by regional broadcasters. They are actively coproducing both with China’s online platforms and Western partnersp, preferably with leading brands like BBC Studios, Discovery and Nat Geo.
  • Sunny Side‘s Jean-Jacques Peretti reports that inclusion is a strategic imperative for Netflix and other platforms. They recognize the need for diverse and fresh  programming for their increasingly global customers.


  • For years I published a Chinese-langage version of Documentary Business, and attended conferences and markets in Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
  • The opportunity to develop real business always seemed to be just around the corner. My hopes are that China’s scale and sophistication are now creating opportinities for producers and service providers beyond the big global brands.