Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

How to Build a Bridgehead to U.S. Buyers. A PACT Webinar with Roy Ackerman and Patrick Feldman

Industry veteran Roy Ackerman is working in New York, backed by his long list of enviable credits for U.K. and U.S. factual productions.

Roy proposed that we create with PACT, the U.K. Producers’ Association, a webinar to inform smaller and newer indies of the different ways to crack the U.S. unscripted market.

We assumed that bigger indies who have shows being made in the U.S. already have their plans.

He hoped to talk to producers who are facing the downturn in U.K. commissioning at C4, Five, BBC and ITV but who have content — formats and factual/documentary ideas — that they think might appeal to either a U.S. audience or a combined U.K./U.S. audience via coproduction/co-financing.

Roy invited London-based Range Media Partners’ Patrick Feldman to join the conversation.

TOPICS

Roy’s target list of questions to explore included:

  • What is different about U.K. producers, what do U.S. buyers like about Brits and what concerns might they have?
  • What are the main hurdles for a U.K. indie without U.S. experience in getting commissions from streamers and (what remains of) the cable/TV networks?
  • What are the ways of getting over those hurdles?
    • Attending conferences?
    • Creating a U.S. division by sending a U.K. exec out to set up an office and build a revenue stream?
    • Hiring an American developer or Showrunner?
    • Selling versions of U.K. hits, working with a distributor/sales agent?
    • Doing everything through an agent?
    • Securing major U.K. talent?
    • Partnering with U.S. prod cos?
  • What agents and managers actually do — does it work? Ditto for distributors and sales agents.
  • How can you partner with a production company in the U.S.? How to divide the roles and revenues?
  • What are the pros and cons of setting up a U.S. operation, i.e., hiring someone like Patrick or Roy, or both?

We managed to cover a lot of this territory in our webinar. Roy and Patrick shared their deep experience and market knowledge.

Watch & Learn Here (22 min)



Highlights

  • [1:00] Introductions: Meet NY-based EP Roy Ackerman and London-based Manager Patrick Feldman of Range Media Partners.
  • [1:50] Is working with an AGENT the best way for independent producers to establish a foothold in the United States?
  • [3:30] What’s more important to an agent: a strong reputation? Or a stellar pitch?
  • [7:30] In the U.S., it’s not who you are, it’s what you’ve got.
  • [10:00] Crime: The entry point for Factual in the U.K.
  • [12:00] Study the schedule of U.S. networks — realistically, will they program what you’re pitching?
  • [13:30] The development process: Key differences between U.K. and U.S.
  • [14:30] Is a sizzle still necessary for a pitch? Balancing the cost of sizzle production versus expected success.
  • [18:00] Final thoughts: What to do and what to avoid when approaching an American buyer. And be humble!

About

Patrick Feldman is an unscripted television representative at Range Media Partners, with a focus on packaging and selling international development and formats. Previously he was an unscripted agent at ICM for 13 years.

 

 

Roy Ackerman is a New York-based EP and strategy consultant. He has built a series of award-winning creative production companies in the U.K. and U.S. including Jamie Oliver’s Fresh One, and Diverse Productions, which was sold to Banijay.

He’s been creative director at Pulse Films and Zinc Media and, after seeing premium indie doc company The Othrs through the delivery of The Vow for HBO, The Lincoln Project for Showtime and other projects, he is now overseeing a premium investigative music documentary series with Idris Elba, and a slate of talent-led, formatted and feature documentary projects.

He has an appetite to EP ambitious docs and shows, and help other companies grow and thrive in the U.S.

 


U.S. Channels: What Are They Buying?

Catch my 2023 Pact webinars with Dan Salerno where we cover U.S. channels’ programming strategies:

Thanks

  • Aimee Shimmin produces our webinar series for Pact.
  • Caitlin Cooper is associate editor for Documentary Business.