Terra Mater - Star Chasers on Senegal

Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Nat Geo & Disney+: What Do They Want? And Not! Read their ‘Unscripted Creative Brief, October 2022’

Nat Geo / Disney+ released their UNSCRIPTED CREATIVE BRIEF October 2022. 

The #2 global streamer is “significantly broadening our editorial lens,”

New opportunities can be discerned from this very useful guide to Nat Geo’s program priorities.

It captures the language used by decision-makers, the pitches they want to hear… and the ones that are a waste of their time.

(I adapted the Nat Geo Powerpoint for my WordPress text format.)



OVERVIEW

National Geographic is seeking the world’s most compelling unscripted content as we significantly broaden our editorial lens.

We will still actively pursue talent-driven vehicles with a strong sense of purpose, but we are opening up new areas and territories for ideas which deepen our understanding of the world and our place in it.

We will be commissioning Series & Specials in episode counts that deliver the most impactful and the most memorable experiences for our audience.

We are especially interested in ideas which can be the beginnings of returning franchises – much in the way that Genius has become a scripted franchise and Secrets Of… is becoming a Natural History franchise.

We are committed to telling stories from diverse voices and want to partner with storytellers who have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.

We make no distinction between platforms.

  • Every project is designed for Disney+ even if it premiers on Linear.
  • Every project will be best in class and simply be heralded as a National Geographic Original

KEY STORYTELLING ATTRIBUTES

Story above all else.

We need to be able to answer this question: what are the stakes?

Stories that speak to the head and the heart, stories that provide insight but also engage on a strong emotional level, stories that are gripping and entertaining.

Projects that are bingeable, so viewers have no choice but to keep watching.

Headline grabbing storylines. This speaks to exclusivity, access, innovation or breaking new ground journalistically.

Subject matters, the location of our privileged access, and our talent on both sides of the camera should possess name recognition. Then tell us something we didn’t know before.

Audacity – we want to take risks and deploy new storytelling devices and use technology in exciting and innovative ways.

KEY GENRES

  • ANCIENT HISTORY
    PRE-1970’s HISTORY
  • CONTEMPORARY HISTORY
    CULTURE
  • CRIME & INVESTIGATION
    PRIVILEGED ACCESS
  • FORMATTED DOCUMENTARY & EMOTION-DRIVEN FORMATS
    UNSCRIPTED THEATER
  • SCIENCE
    TRAVEL & ADVENTURE

HISTORY

ANCIENT HISTORY / ARCHAEOLOGY / DINOSAURS

  • Let’s break from traditional storytelling techniques and rhythms and deliver more drama and emotion.
  • Deliver global headlines due to new discoveries.
  • How do we expand and innovate our storytelling toolkit?

PRE-1970’s HISTORY

  • Let’s make these as gripping as a thriller.
  • What is the new lens, new evidence, new approach that can make these stories irresistible to a broad, global audience?

SOCIAL HISTORY / IMMERSIVE / EXPERIENTIAL

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY

  • We are actively seeking formats which use immersive or experiential storytelling, or celebrity-driven formats, to explore recent history and social movements.
  • Our 9/11 One Day In America is the bar for a gripping contemporary history limited series.
  • Let’s reinvent biography as a closed episode format, or as larger anthologies.

CULTURE

  • While a subcategory of the history genre, we see it as a distinct and separate opportunity.
  • How do we use major cultural movements: music, film, societal, etc. to tell stories of significant social change with depth and humanity?
  • This is an area especially ripe for unseen archive.

CRIME & INVESTIGATION

IMMERSIVE INVESTIGATION

  • Seeking companion series that complement, and do not duplicate, our hit series Trafficked. What are other areas to investigate beyond guns, drugs and cartels, etc.?
  • Seeking present tense kinetic investigations but also non-presenter, past-tense, immersive approaches to big stories or scandals which can only now be told.
  • Also think about journalists or filmmakers investigating institutions or organizations to get to the truth. Fearless reporting on important global, societal, environmental, tech or other on-brand topics.

TRUE CRIME

  • We view true crime as the lens through which we deepen our understanding of the world.
  • Precincts need a strong NatGeo backdrop, such as environmental, historical, archaeological, medical, forensics and psychology.

DOCUMENTARY ACCESS & EMOTION-DRIVEN FORMATS

INSTITUTIONAL ACCESS

  • Privileged access to world class, globally recognized institutions.
  • Embed for fly-on-the-wall coverage celebrating great global endeavors and events in Nat Geo precincts.
  • Drama, tension, headlines.

CHARACTER-DRIVEN ACCESS

We are seeking brand-appropriate precincts that allow us to shine a light on how our world works, and to root for and connect with real life heroes.

Some examples are front-line responders, forensic scientists, investigative journalists, people who bring people to justice, or pioneers in their field. Come up with others.

LIGHTLY STRUCTURED FORMATS

Concepts must maintain emotional authenticity, deliver strong factual content and have the potential to return. The construct, as much as possible, is hidden.

UNSCRIPTED THEATER
We want to make noise.

What’s the loudest way to share something extraordinary with the world and grab headlines for it?

This is all about information-rich stunts with audacity but with a strong sense of purpose.

There’s a rich legacy of audacious factual events, from plane crashes to modern mummification to televised animal and human autopsies:

  • What does a 21st century iteration of this type of programming look like?
  • And what are the most pressing globally relevant questions we could set out to answer?

SCIENCE
Smart, relatable science with scale.

Our upcoming series Limitless With Chris Helmsworth is our prime example.

  • What are the science topics that the global audience care about the most?
  • How can we cover familiar topics In surprising ways?
  • What are the innovations or world firsts we can use to refresh big blue chip science?

We are open to highly original and entertaining, noisy social experiments.

TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE
Personality led travel and adventure will always be part of our strategy.

ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS

  • Credentialed protagonists or topic appropriate A-listers with a clear point of view
  • Inclusive perspectives and diverse narratives
  • Obvious missions with a clear beginning, middle and end
  • Measurable and highly visual goals
  • Gripping stakes
  • Brand appropriate adventures that deliver insights into our world

WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE A LOT OF…

  • Guns, Cartels & Drugs and Travel & Adventure
  • The bar to find new ways into these areas is high, but our door is open.

WHAT WE DON’T WANT…

  • Projects that are overly earnest
  • Inauthentic or artificial content
  • Paranormal
  • Ideas that feel niche or small
  • Overtly political programming