The six projects that were presented at the recent TV documentary pitch session at the Unifrance Rendez-Vous, Paris have very few stylistic or thematic similarities. However, taken together, they relay two truths: Although filmmaking technology has given filmmakers unprecedented creative freedoms, storytelling is still the best way to connect with an audience.
Three of the six projects presented at the Rendez-Vous forum reflect the format’s growing technological trends. To offer competing visions of the future, Mad Films/Camera Subjective’s speculative science-fiction project “2080” will use CGI, motion capture and some of the digital production techniques pioneered by Disney’s “The Mandalorian,” whereas to open a window into the past, France Televisions/Program33’s historical doc “The Joan of Arc Case”Digital recreations of France 15th-century will be used.
Similar to the previous front, there is also the 4-episode educational project “Science in Archeology 3.0,” directed by Alexandra Barbot and Stéphane Jacques, produced by Roche Productions, and handled internationally by Lucky You, looks to employ recent advances in digital mapping, photogrammetry, and scanning techniques to recreate digital models of the ancient world. Alexandra Barbot, co-director of the pitch presentation, described the digital recreations as “likened to” the movie. “entering Ali Baba’s cave,”Arguments are made that the new model could revive that spark of discovery that ignited so many young imaginations.
Due for delivery in 2023, the four-part series will use these new technological assets to track shipwrecks embedded deep on the ocean’s floor, recreate the Cro-Magnon diet and explore daily life in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The next pitch project is the dual-installation doc. “For the Love of Sharks” (pictured up top), France TV sales chief Julia Schulte argued that in some cases, spectacle wasn’t enough. “More than ever we need emotional stories [alongside] fantastic images to make people aware of environmental issues,” Schulte said.
As the project’s title would suggest, the two-part wildlife doc, produced by Bonne Pioche (“March of the Penguins”), directed by Pauline Lietar and Frédéric Febvre, and sold by France TV, aims to break the global indifference to the 100,000 sharks killed every year. Alexadre soullier, Bonne Pioche producer had one thought when she tried to determine who was responsible.
“In 1975 a single film changed everything in our relationship with this animal,”Soullier. “Since [‘Jaws’], we’ve been taught to fear sharks. So our idea with this film is to use the same weapon, to use the great power and emotion of cinema to destroy this misunderstanding between two species and to build a new relationship for the future.”
Three specific themes will be the focus of the film. “characters” – one a hammerhead, one a great white, and one a whale shark – emphasizing their roles as mothers and caregivers as they migrate across the Galapagos. “These ladies are not killing machines,”Soullier. “We think that maternity is the most powerful tool, the most universal, to create bonds and emotions with the viewers.”
Eric Michel directs, Climage Audiovisual produces and Climage Films sells the historical doc. “The Roessler Mystery” will also employ certain Hollywood tools, charging forward as a slick and fast paced spy thriller that tells the story of the Red Three – a Switzerland-based Soviet intelligence ring that helped topple the Third Reich.
As the film tracks the various players – including a devout German Christian, a Jewish-Hungarian Communist, two Nazi secretaries and a Milanese train conductor – that helped supply Moscow with a steady stream of classified Wehrmacht intelligence, it will do so with a “modern visual style and fast paced storyline”To appeal to younger sensibilities.
“It’s a suspenseful, emotional story,” said French Connection’s Jake Day, who touted the project’s access to “incredible archives”And “the best graphic artists capable of creating the most incredible maps and designs, which we will dutifully illustrate and animate.”
Last, but certainly not least: “Nature’s Table,”A series of eight episodes created by Candice Odgers, Benjamin G. Hewett, and Trace Studios. It will feature eight African chefs who live and work in remote areas.
The program will feature chefs Jan Hendrik Van Der Westhuizen (Siya Kobo) and Kobus van den Merwe as they explore modern gastronomy. Locations that are proposed include the coast and the desert, the Savannah, the wetlands, and the jungle.
The following are some of the ways you can help: “magnificent wildlife, world-class cuisine and cultural diversity” that inspire each episode, Trace’s Solene Mbango underscored the project’s narrative ambitions. “Viewers will have the opportunity to travel,” Mbango said. “Whether elephants wade into food stores or annual rains flood the camp or restaurant site, guests expect a five-star service. So these chefs have learned to adapt and to live off the land – all while protecting nature.”