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Harder Than You Think Appoints otf as distribution agent for ground breaking Rising Phoenix Paralympic content

Emmy award winning Harder Than You Think (HTYT) and Off The Fence (OTF) have announced today that...

Emmy award winning Harder Than You Think (HTYT) and Off The Fence (OTF) have announced today that OTF has been appointed to find partners for the next four projects from Harder Than You Think’s  ‘Rising Phoenix Universe’ - a catalogue of trailblazing content which charts the story of the Paralympic Games. OTF will also co-produce additional content commissioned outside of these core projects.

The ‘Rising Phoenix Universe’ was born out of the success of Harder Than You Think’s debut film Rising Phoenix, a four-time nominated and double Emmy winning feature documentary about the history of the Paralympic Movement which debuted in 2020 on Netflix and Bytedance.

Now, Harder Than You Think, founded by London 2012 CMO Greg Nugent and chaired by ex-BBC director general Tony Hall, is set to produce a collection of documentaries and docu series as part of the Rising Phoenix Universe which aims to connect global audiences to the Paralympics and in so doing create a shift in attitudes towards disability. Under the deal announced today, OTF will oversee the distribution strategy for all Rising Phoenix productions: Road To Tokyo (2022) and Paris 2024: A New Revolution w/t (2024). As part of the deal, OTF will act for Harder Than You Think on selling the rights to the 2025-2028 Road To LA which will chart the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games and LA 2028 Paralympic Games.

The Productions:

Road to Tokyo - a 3 part docu series following 12 Paralympians preparing to compete in the delayed Tokyo 2020 Paralympics through the Covid-19 pandemic. Co-directed by Mat Whitecross and pioneering deaf director Bim Ajadi, the series is also produced by Academy Award winning John Battsek at Ventureland and Exec Produced by Jack Thorne. One in four of those who worked on the production identify as disabled.

Paris 2024: A New Revolution (w/t) - a 90-minute feature in post production and slated for release this summer. Co-produced with Ventureland, investors include P&G Studios, in a partnership that dates back to the highly successful Equal Too podcast. Directed by Sheridan O’Donnell, the film aims to use the platform of the Paris 2024 Paralympics to ignite a global conversation on disability equality. Throughout the film, Sheridan will chronicle his own story as a low vision filmmaker as he grows to embrace life with a disability. Produced by Barnaby Spurrier (Rising Phoenix) and Exec Produced by Jim LeBrecht (Crip Camp), Harder Than You Think founder Greg Nugent and Ventureland’s John Battsek and Sarah Thompson. The production is currently on course to achieve its target of half of the production team to identify as disabled.

The Road To LA (w/t) production will continue beyond the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, with documentary content planned around the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games, culminating in a unique offering around the LA 2028 Paralympic Games.

In 2022, Harder Than You Think was granted worldwide exclusive rights by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to tell the story of the Paralympics through to the LA 2028 Paralympic Games. This deal gives HTYT worldwide exclusive access to the IPC’s archive for every edition of the Winter and Summer Paralympic Games to the LA 2028 Paralympic Games. The deal gives Harder Than You Think global AVOD, SVOD and TVOD rights and unique access, including field of play and trackside filming rights.

Television audiences for the Paralympic Games are growing rapidly with its cumulative audience more than doubling in the last decade. The IPC projects a cumulative five billion-strong global audience for the LA 2028 Paralympic Games. According to the United Nations, more than 1 billion people, or around 15% of the world’s population, have a disability. However, they represent only a very small fraction of those working in the entertainment industry today. Harder Than You Think’s mission is to change this and increase diverse representation for people with disabilities in front of and behind the camera. The team has set a groundbreaking target for representation of disabled talent with a goal to have at least 50% of the production team identifying as disabled on all future productions.

Andrew Parsons, President of the IPC, said: “We want to open up the Paralympics to the world’s greatest storytellers to help bring the world’s greatest sporting and social stories to every corner of the globe.”

Bo Stehmeier, CEO of Off The Fence, said: “The IPC chose wisely when it granted Harder Than You Think unprecedented access to the Paralympics — and not just because Greg and his team produce glorious, award-winning work, but also because their commercial instincts are as sound as their creative talent. We’re honoured to have been entrusted with maximising the reach and impact of the Rising Phoenix. The power, glory and heroism of the Paralympics deserve to be seen by the widest possible global audience — and we’re only too pleased to help make that happen.”

Greg Nugent, Creator Of Rising Phoenix said: “We have something very special and unique in Rising Phoenix and its storyline. Our desire is to find a partner who shares our passion not only for extraordinary content but also more inclusive and representative production standards that can hopefully inspire others in the industry."’

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otf books first orders for Silverback - String of pre-release deals closed for award-winning feature documentary

Factual content specialist Off the Fence (otf) has announced the first sales for its latest...

Factual content specialist Off the Fence (otf) has announced the first sales for its latest feature-length documentary, Silverback, produced by OTF Studios in association with the BBC, France Televisions, Featuristic Films and The WNET Group.

Pre-premiere deals for the epic 90-minute film, which will debut on the BBC and France Televisions on the 7h and 8th of January respectively have been closed with US streamer Xumo and three European public broadcasters: Austria’s ORF, Sweden’s UR and Finland’s YLE.

Global interest in Silverback has been building since the Jackson Wild natural-history filmmaking festival in September, where it scooped three honours, including the Grand Teton Award for best-in-show documentary. It is the first major wildlife feature documentary to come out of OTF Studios since Netflix’s My Octopus Teacher, which won the 2021 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Silverback follows Congo-born wildlife cameraman Vianet Djenguet as he joins the effort to protect his country’s critically endangered eastern lowland gorillas. OTF’s small film crew was granted unprecedented access to the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to document the ‘habituation’ of a gorilla family. This challenging conservation process, which acclimatises gorillas to the presence of humans, is vital to eco-tourism, which generates the income needed to protect the world’s biggest primates from poaching, habitat encroachment and, ultimately, extinction.

Although primarily focused on the habituation of Mpungwe, a 250kg alpha-male gorilla, Silverback also documents Djenguet’s own family dynamic as he re-examines the role of the ‘silverback’ in his own life — his grandfather.

Andrew Zikking, managing director of Off The Fence Studios, said: ‘Silverback started as a film about trying to save a species from extinction, but the director’s obs-doc approach allowed it to evolve into many unexpected directions, including the impact of poverty, ideas around identity, family and masculinity. However, it is first and foremost a natural-history film documenting the dangerous and at times distressing habituation of Mpungwe and his family.”

Stefanie Fischer added: “We are proud to be recognised for our work in the natural history community at Jackson winning the Great Teton andthese pre-premiere sales indicate that Silverback will certainly win buyers and audiences around the world — and, in the process, help to raise awareness of the plight of these magnificent, critically endangered creatures.” 

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otf Partners with Boomsatsuma on Series 2 of Ocean wonders to be shot in Earth X TV's new Bristol-based studio

Off The Fence (OTF) and boomsatsuma, the award-winning specialist in education for the next...

Off The Fence (OTF) and boomsatsuma, the award-winning specialist in education for the next generation of talent for the creative industries, have entered into a partnership under which OTF will be the first TV production company to shoot a series in boomsatsuma’s new Bristol-based studio facility. 

OTF announced in early August that sustainability network EarthxTV has commissioned a second season of Ocean Wonders (8 x 60 min), which explores the science behind the intriguing mysteries of the underwater world. The decision to film parts of the series at boomsatsuma’s new studio in the Brislington area of Bristol will enable students to gain invaluable real-world experience of the creative and commercial processes involved in producing a premium documentary series.

Ocean Wonders, fronted by heavy-metal marine biologist Tom ‘The Blowfish’ Hird, is produced for OTF by Luke Lovell and exec produced by managing director Andrew Zikking. Set to premiere in early 2024 in the US, the new series will investigate the survival superpowers of some of the ocean’s wildest and weirdest creatures. Leading the audiences from the shallows of the shoreline to the deepest ocean trench, The Blowfish will conduct his signature experiments and stunts to test theories, bust common misconceptions and explain the baffling behaviour of our planet’s most mysterious creatures.

These stunts will take place in The Blowfish’s ‘lab’, which has already been installed in boomsatuma’s new TV, film and game-production studio. This new studio-training facility, which opened its doors in October last year, offers Bristol’s next generation of creative talent access to experiential learning, alongside fully equipped and cost-effective studio space, a games lab, a green room, and post-production and audio/grading suites.

OTF’s Andrew Zikking said: “We specialise in films and content that have sustainability and the natural world at their core. These values extend to supporting and celebrating our local community, so we’re especially proud to be able to shoot parts of a very global series in our hometown of Bristol. It’s also clear that we’re working with some of the stars of tomorrow — talent that we hope will want to work with OTF again as their careers develop. It’s a win-win.”

Award-winning TV producer and director Dr Susan McMillan, Executive Dean of boomsatsuma, said: “This is the first big booking for the studio and one that we hope will herald a new era of investment in and commitment to studio training for our students. This first partnership with OTF is exactly what our students need to gain on set experience that’s so essential to their professional development. We all know how hard it is for fresh and diverse talent to break into the creative industries — and how hard it is for the creative industries to access the fresh ideas and talent they need to survive. This collaborative approach to creating opportunity is exactly what we need to ensure that our regional production community is sustainable.” 

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otf's Silverback takes top award at Jackson Wild Media Awards

THE NEWS IS OUT!! We are over the moon (and beyond!) that otf original ‘Silverback’ was...

THE NEWS IS OUT!! We are over the moon (and beyond!) that otf original ‘Silverback’ was a three-time winner at last night’s Jackson Wild Media Awards. Most of all we are ecstatic that the film won the Grand Teton Award, awarded to the overall best film of the competition. Thank you to all the talented people who worked hard to make the film, and to all our amazing partners, BBC France Télévisions and Featuristic Group who supported us. A pat on the back to team and we’re excited to celebrate even more at MIPCOM in a couple of weeks! Bring on the champagne! 🍾 🎉

Full list of 'Silverback' Awards:
🏆 Grand Teton Award
🏆 People & Nature - Long Form
🏆 On Screen Personality (Vianet Djenguet)

To find out more about 'Silverback', click here

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