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.”
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
OTF CEO, Bo Stehmeier sat down with C21Media to highlight the importance of diversity within...
OTF CEO, Bo Stehmeier sat down with C21Media to highlight the importance of diversity within storytelling and the media industry.
Since it launched in Amsterdam in 1994, Off the Fence has produced more than 700 hours of non-fiction programming, won an Oscar and opened offices in London, Bristol and Toronto. Now, under new CEO Bo Stehmeier, the company is committed to making the same success of positive change.
C21 Media asks:
What does your role involve?
I oversee the delivery of Off the Fence (OTF)’s overall strategy.
Do you have a specific stated mission with regards to the four verticals within The Big Picture Network?
• Inclusivity & diversity
We all know biodiversity is key to safeguarding the future of our planet. At OTF, we believe narrative diversity is vital to the future of storytelling. The traditional mono-mainstream narrative that the West has been exporting to the East is harmful and unhealthy – which is one reason why we recently signed a deal with Korea’s RAPA, under which we’re collaborating on the development of Korean factual IP for the international market.
As both a company and an employer, we’re keen to show, on screen and off, that we’re diverse and inclusive. In practical terms, that means we recruit staff from all backgrounds and liaise with companies like Bristol-based BoomSatsuma on work-experience and other opportunities. We also make sure everyone working at OTF knows we have an equality and diversity policy and that we value people as individuals and respect their different opinions, cultures, lifestyles and circumstances.
• Sustainability & environment
Natural history, the environment and impact have been at the heart of OTF’s content strategy since we launched in the early 90s, long before these issues became fashionable or urgent. Recent examples include My Octopus Teacher, which won us an Oscar for best documentary in 2021, The Letter: A Message to Our Earth, Going Circular, The Future From Above and My Gorilla Dream. Off screen, we attempt to practice what we preach in our programming, so we’re working with an environmental, social and corporate governance consultant and have set up an in-house ‘Green Forum’ to create our mission statement on sustainability.
• Business practice & operations
We’ve been creating sustainability guidelines with the support of Albert, which helps the global film and TV industry to tackle its environmental impact and create content that mobilises positive action for the planet. We use a green energy supplier, recycle where possible, and encourage staff to use our cycle-to-work scheme and be as paperless as possible. But there’s so much more we can do, which is why we’re now working to create a mission statement on sustainability.
We’ve also made mental health and wellbeing a priority. We offer staff mental-health days off, talk openly and without judgement about mental health in meetings, and carry out regular team ‘temperature checks’ to make sure everyone’s coping with what can be a stressful work environment. Added to that, we have several qualified mental-health first-aiders – and are training up more – subscribe to TeamDoctor and circulate useful short films to encourage mindfulness.
• Content & storytelling
This bleeds into the genre for which OTF is best known: programming focused on climate change and its impact on society, the natural world and the future of our planet. But as a content-investment company, we also want our IP to find international homes, so our projects tend to have a wider representation and point of view than the average commercial narrative.
CLICK HERE to read the full interview/article.
The international distribution arm of factual content specialist Off The Fence (OTF) has pre-sold...
The international distribution arm of factual content specialist Off The Fence (OTF) has pre-sold The Future From Above (4 x 60 mins) to TF1-owned French nature broadcaster Ushuaïa TV, which has also acquired an additional 80-hour package of OTF programming. Under the deals, which were brokered by OTF Amsterdam-based sales executive Emmanuel Grinda, the package rights are split for linear and standalone SVOD.
The Future From Above is a co-production between OTF Studios, Sky, EarthxTV and Korean channel ENA (KT Skylife TV) and production company Borderless Lab, with funding from Korean communications agency KCA. The series focuses on how the world could look in 2050 — the defining year for our planet’s future — if we embrace the revolutionary technology and thinking needed to transform every aspect of our lives, from how we communicate, harness energy and travel to how we live, eat and recycle our waste.
Emmanuel Grinda said: “We are unequivocally at a juncture where world audiences are demanding better storytelling on our environment, to better understand what nature is and means to us and what practical things we can all do to help tackle the challenges ahead. I’m proud to say that OTF has a rich history of creating and acquiring content that answers that demand, which allows us to curate packages of programming that deliver not only what today’s audiences want, but that help us understand what our planet needs.”
For Christophe Sommet, CEO of Ushuaïa TV: “It's important for Ushuaïa TV to acquire programs such as The Future From Above, which is in the channel's DNA. To inspire people to take action, the channel raises awareness of environmental issues, with a positive approach, and by proposing concrete solutions. Ushuaïa TV seeks out international catalogs that are benchmarks for our themes, as in our collaboration with Off the Fence (OTF).”
The 80-hour package features several acclaimed titles, including Nature's Ultimate Survivors (5 x 60 mins), produced by OTF Studios and fronted by conservationist, field biologist and rising natural-history star Dan O’Neill. The series combines stunning footage with the latest science to explore the extraordinary abilities that creatures have evolved in order to survive in the animal kingdom.
Also headed for Ushuaïa TV is Greenhouse by Joost (1 x 60/90 mins, produced by Australian indie Good Thing Productions and presented by Dutch sustainability expert and visionary designer Joost Bakker. Recently described by The New York Times as the “poster boy of zero-waste living”, Bakker is on a mission to turn our cities and suburbs into sustainable urban farms. The feature documentary follows his efforts to build a self-sustaining home — an ecosystem that provides its occupants with water, energy, shelter and nourishment.
Other titles in the package include Galapagos: Hope for the Future (1 x 60/90 mins), produced by Amsterdam-based indie NCF. Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands, the cradle of Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking theory of evolution, are particularly threatened by climate change. But the film tells a hopeful story of passionate researchers who are committed to future-proofing this unique, but fragile, ecosystem.
Several titles in OTF’s Wildest… strand, which celebrates the diversity and beauty of a range of global natural habitats, have also been acquired by Ushuaïa TV, including Wildest Islands, Wildest Middle East, Wildest Europe and Wildest Indonesia.