Keep up to date with all you need to know from the Off the Fence, the latest news, plus interviews and Insights from the world of TV and film
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Bo Stehmeier to be part of TV Real Festival's Superpanel

Off the Fence’s Bo Stehmeier, BossaNova’s Paul Heaney, Albatross World Sales’ Anne...

Off the Fence’s Bo Stehmeier, BossaNova’s Paul Heaney, Albatross World Sales’ Anne Olzmann and ZDF Studios’ Nikolas Hülbusch join together to discuss the big-picture issues impacting the factual landscape during the TV Real Festival, taking place from June 18 to 20. 

Read the full article on TV Real and sign up for the event!

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OTF named as a Top 10 Co-Pro Partner from the Realscreen Global 100 Listing!

Since its inception in 2006, our friends at Realscreen have been annually listing OTF in the Global...

Since its inception in 2006, our friends at Realscreen have been annually listing OTF in the Global top 100's, a compilation of the leading production firms within the non-fiction and unscripted screen content industry. This list is meticulously curated by Realscreen's editorial team, in conjunction with significant input from industry stakeholders. It's important to note that the Top 10 lists across diverse production areas are not exhaustive, but they are designed to shine a spotlight on the prodcos that are moving the needle — and the industry — in the right direction.

This year, OTF has been acknowledged in the Global 100 list and recognised as one of the Top 10 Co-Pro Partners. Thank you Realscreen and our industry nominees!

HEADQUARTERS: Amsterdam, Netherlands



RECENT PROJECTS: Giants, Unearthed: Ancient Murder Mysteries, Queens of Ancient Egypt (Curiosity Stream); Silverback (BBC, France Télévisions)

UPCOMING TITLES: 'Rising Phoenix Universe' projects

This Amsterdam-based producer and distributor has been active in the copro space for ages, with the past year seeing the launch of a pair of coproductions with Curiosity Studios, the production arm of streamer Curiosity Stream; the natural history series Giants; the history-crime mashup Unearthed: Ancient Murder Mysteries and the history series Queens of Ancient Egypt, the latter of which was also co-produced with Tile Films. Also released in 2023 was Silverback (pictured), about the efforts of award-winning wildlife cameraman Vianet Djenguet to help "habituate" a notoriously protective silverback gorilla, which was produced by OTF Studios in association with the BBC, France Télévisions, Featuristic Films and The WNET Group. Another recent title is the first season of the supernatural history series Cursed Histories, which OTF produced with Toronto's Go Button Media.

Coming soon from OTF is the 'Rising Phoenix Universe' series of projects focusing on the Paralympic Games, produced in association with Harder Than You Think and based on the latter's 2020 Paralympics doc Rising Phoenix. JA

The rules have changed: According to Off the Fence CEO Bo Stehmeier, the pressures currently facing the screen content industry require new approaches to collaboration.

"We consider any opportunity that presents itself that we believe in, as a Rubik's cube," he offers. "We focus on a collaborative approach to solve the puzzle rather than a strictly traditional co-production model.

"The main motivation for this collaborative approach is that we need to tap into multiple global funding models within and outside of the TV industry," he continues. "This helps alleviate the already stretched budgets of traditional broadcasters and more importantly supports the need to move quickly on projects. Supply chains for the factual business have been broken for a while and there is a real need to bring a rhythm, the heartbeat, back to the business.

"This happens through a combination of possibilities such as physical and financial coproduction, IP and access investment, executive producing, production service deferrals in exchange for rights, hot housing and giving reach through distribution and syndication," he explains. "The playing field has changed and so have all the rules. I truly believe that it is within this new network of relationships and better business thinking that we will be able to rebirth the factual industry and usher in its predicted renaissance."

For more information, the Realscreen Announcement Article provides a detailed overview of the Top 10 Co-Pro Partners. These firms have proven their ability to skillfully navigate the creative and commercial complexities of coproduction.


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Off the Fence sells 300 hours of documentary into Iberian and Hispanic US markets. Deals closed with Discovery, AMC, RTVE, RTP, HITN TV and 2042 Media

The international distribution arm of factual content specialist Off The Fence (OTF) closed a string...

The international distribution arm of factual content specialist Off The Fence (OTF) closed a string of deals with broadcasters in Spain and Portugal, alongside volume deals with two of the largest Spanish-language channels in the US. The deals were brokered by OTF’s sales manager for Iberia, Latin America and Hispanic US, Emilia Gil Villegas.

Sales of OTF’s headline history/mystery strand, which launched internationally at MIPCOM last October, have been growing steadily in Spain. Warner Bros. Discovery in Spain has picked up two Big Media series: Hitler's Secret Missions (6 x 60 mins), which investigates six audacious operations personally commissioned by the German dictator as he sought to conquer Europe; and series one of Truthseekers (12 x 60 mins), co-produced with RMC Story, which uncovers the facts behind the myths and legends that have grown up around certain civilisations, events and phenomena, including the Great Pyramid of Giza, The Holy Grail and The Bermuda Triangle.

In addition, Warner Bros. Discovery has acquired the first season of Cursed Histories (6 x 60 mins), which is the first project to be launched internationally from OTF’s six-series factual partnership, announced last year, with Canada’s Super Channel and Go Button Media to be broadcast on Spanish FTA channel DMAX. The series explores puzzling and unnerving locations, icons and events, from the tomb of Tutankhamun through the Hope Diamond, that are believed to have triggered death, disaster and destruction.

The first series of Cursed Histories has also been acquired by AMC Networks International Southern Europe for Spain and Portugal along with two seasons of Truthseekers. Also headed for AMC’s Iberian channels is How to Lose a War (5 x 60 mins), produced by Wildbear Entertainment and Cut2Clock. The series opens in 1941, when the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan look set to conquer the world. So how, within two years, did Hitler and his allies go from victorious to vanquished?

Meanwhile, a second Wildbear/Cut2Clock title — Wild Battleground (4 x 60 mins) — has been sold to Spanish public broadcaster RTVE. The four-part documentary takes viewers into a war zone of a different sort: the animal kingdom, where battles break out over rivers, reefs and watering holes, as predators strive to dominate vital resources.

Over in Portugal, public broadcaster RTP has acquired multi-award-winning travel and adventure documentary Exposure (1 x 90 mins). In the Powderkeg Studios/Blumhouse production, a Muslim chaplain, a French biologist, a Qatari princess and eight other women from the Arab World attempt to ski across the fast-disappearing Arctic sea ice to become the last-ever team to reach climate-change ground zero: the North Pole.

Lastly, OTF has closed volume deals with HITN, the largest Spanish-language, not for profit pay TV network in the US; and 2042 Media, the Latino-owned independent company that owns and controls three pay-TV networks: xPlorer TV, Kids Street and Ingles Para Todos.

HITN has picked up 65 hours of documentary content, including both seasons of Meteorica Cine’s The Great Way (4 x 60 mins), which follows backpackers Alba and Raul along some of the world’s most spectacular hiking routes; and Pernel Media’s Butterflies: Superheroes of Nature (3 x 60 mins or 1 x 60 mins), which explores the ephemeral insects’ astonishing and largely unknown super-powers.

A second US volume deal sees some 195 hours of premium documentary head to 2042 Media’s doc-dedicated Family Central Explorer TV channel. Package highlights include WildEarth TV/otf studios’ A Game of Leopard Thrones (3 x 60 mins), filmed over 10 years in South Africa’s Djuma Private Game Reserve; China Review Studio/Colorful Nature Films’ March of the Elephants (1 x 60 mins), which chronicles the epic, 1,300-mile migration of a herd of elephants across China; and series three of NHNZ Worldwide’s Our Big Blue Backyard (6x 60 mins), which invites viewers into the stunning underwater world off the coast of New Zealand.

Stefanie Fischer, OTF’s managing director of sales, said: “Documentary has traditionally been a difficult sell into the Latin speaking markets, with their love of sport, celebrity and reality. But these sales indicate that today’s documentaries can rival any genre in terms of pace, narrative and drama. All these documentaries, whether focusing on Hitler’s failed plans for European domination or the butterfly’s conquest of the world, share a common quality: they are great stories told brilliantly by filmmakers at the top of their game.”

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During London Screenings week Stefanie Fischer speaks to TBI on the temperature of the global content industry and what's next for OTF in the next 12 months.

As buyers flock to the UK for London TV Screenings and BBC Studios Showcase this week, TBI talks to...

As buyers flock to the UK for London TV Screenings and BBC Studios Showcase this week, TBI talks to the bosses of more than 25 distribution companies to test the temperature of the global content industry and to find out how the next 12 months are shaping up.

Here, TBI talks to Off the Fence’s Stefanie Fischer, MD of distribution.

What three words would you use to describe the state of the TV/streaming industry as a whole right now?

Change, broken, relentless

What three words would you use to describe the state of the distribution sector right now?

Fascinating, fragile, feverish

With fewer shows being commissioned, how are you securing your pipeline?

Through OTF Studios, we are able to be very adaptive to new models that allow us to be involved in the pipeline from every aspect. We still of course wholly acquire programmes but increasingly it’s through partnerships with alternative funders such as foundations and impact campaigns all the way through to co-productions and deficit financing as a distributor.

What is the single biggest difference in the discussions you’re having with buyers today compared with 12 months ago?

They say less is more but there is strong evidence to suggest there’s not more budget, slots or staff…

How do you expect global streamer demands for rights to change in 2024 compared with 2023? 

I expect the trend of becoming a little more flexible about exclusivities to continue and the development and facilitation of more multi partnership projects which naturally opens up more funding routes and reach.

Where does opportunity lie for you in 2024?

Our fully integrated production and distribution model has allowed us to explore some brilliant and unique new avenues such as the Rising Phoenix Universe Paralympics partnership with the Emmy winning Harder Than You Think and an as yet to be revealed fully funded feature with access to latest research on addressing chronic pain. We’ve worked very hard to be incredibly flexible when it comes to business models and adapting to each individual project and its needs.

Tell us in no more than two sentences about the biggest problem facing the distribution industry and what needs to change so it can be overcome?

There are fewer buyers that are able to actually put their money where their mouth is, which is as frustrating for them as it is for us. When they can invest it’s often with smaller budgets whilst slots are simultaneously in decline. We also see a trend where buyers are vying for too many rights than they can pay for which leaves too much deficit to be found for the remaining rights. It’s an unworkable situation and change is clearly needed – buyers will all need to be more flexible with rights and open to collaborate – that’s a clear optimistic path.

It also evident that there is a global expansion of content consumption – audiovisual storytelling in general, funders and advertisers who want to be part of that journey. For classic tv distribution execs there has never been a more creative in facilitating the creative and commercial process for these partners to start building the foundations of a new way of making and selling content.

Tell us about your top show at London Screenings & why we should buy it?

Phenomena and the Paralympics based Rising Phoenix Universe are head-to-head for me in terms of innovation, quality and sheer entertainment value. They’re both incredible, the Paralympics content will sell itself, Phenomena needs more explanation: cutting-edge science that will bring health to the next level and a must watch for society as a whole.

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