Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

History Makers Panel (1 / 2). H2: The Brand, Mission & Pipeline. How Open to Pitches? Rai Educational

Our opening session at the recent, vibrant History Makers Conference in New York explored the path between Entertainment-driven and Content-driven History programming.

Thanks to the conference organizers for the invitation to participate (as well as for the warm welcome extended to our Singapore delegation), and to Santa Fe Productions for recording the session.

Following are my brief notes and links to the videos.

The Panelists

  • Peter Gaffney, Senior Vice President, Programming Strategy, Scheduling & Acquisitions: History & H2
  • Dirk Hoogstra, Senior Vice President, Development & Programming: History & H2
  • Piero A. Corsini, Series Producer, Rai Educational

1. The ‘New’ H2. Branding. Sizzle Reel

History’s Dirk Hoogstra and Peter Gaffney:

  • The H2 mandate is to be entertaining and relevant
  • “Information and entertainment”
  • Pipeline: 180 hours
  • See the H2 sizzle reel
  • View Part 1 here…

2. H2: Entertainment- or Content-driven?

  • Information is the star, but it must be entertaining.
  • What keeps people engaged? The “WOW! Factor”.
  • Rebranding isn’t a slam dunk. Ice Road Truckers was a lucky break in the risky process of introducing character-driven series to History.
  • Failure is an opportunity to learn.
  • History’s misses can be pluses.
  • H2 is open to new genres, even Comedy.
  • The development structure at History and H2:
    • 15 developers.
    • And everyone both develops and oversees programs.”
    • How open is History to pitches from new producers?
  • How do History’s classic signature series, like America The Story of US fit into the programming strategy?
    • Which series are coming up next?
  • View Part 2 here…


  • Our Pawn Stars panel analyzes the explosive rise of Leftfield Pictures.
  • The panel was produced for the NY State Bar Association, with Brent Montgomery (Leftfield), Robert Miller (Peleton Entertainment / agent) and Mary Donahue (EP, History).
  • Mary described the environment at History at the time of the Pawn Stars pitch
  • See our Pawn Stars Panel coverage here and the video here:


Speaking Engagements

Asian Side of the Doc
Tokyo, March 19-22
The U.S. Feature Doc Slot / Workshops

Cannes, March 30
Panel: How to Get the Funds


Independent Filmmaker Labs Open for Submissions

Deadlines to Apply:
March 9 (Documentary) / April 6 (Narrative)

IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs are a year-long fellowship supporting independent filmmakers when they need it most: through the completion, marketing, and distribution of their first features. Lab submission is open to all first-time documentary and narrative feature directors with films in post-production. Structured in three week-long components held over the year, the Labs offer personalized attention on post-production, audience building, and distribution strategies in the digital age, followed by continued support from IFP as the project premieres in the marketplace.

Recent Lab Project alumni now in theaters include Dee ReesPariah (Focus Features), Alrick Brown’s Kinyarwanda (AFFRM), and Victoria Mahoney’s Yelling to the Sky (MPI), being released this spring.

Premieres at 2012 festivals have included An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Sundance)Welcome to Pine Hill (Slamdance, Grand Jury Award), Una Noche (Berlin), and The Light in Her Eyes and Smokin’ Fish (IDFA 2011) – with more Lab alumni set for upcoming festivals and broadcast.

To apply or for more information, please visit