24 June 2008

"No longer a market for documentaries"

[Ed Note: Reading an interesting article in the Washington Post about documentary awards ceremony Saturday called the Silverdocs awards show in Silver Spring, MD, something surprising, if not shocking, jumped out—apparently Great Britain, once the shining bastion of high-quality documentaries, is no more. Quoting Geoffrey Smith, 49, the director of "Surgeon," the article noted that there is “no longer a market for documentaries on British TV…”

Having spent almost a decade working for the BBC and the occasional commercial British TV network (Granada and Channel 4) in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, I am stunned. The BBC had an entire “Documentary Features” department , along with Panorama, Newsnight and numerous other long-form television programs. Apparently no longer…

With the decline in the US Market for documentaries, both on network television and theatrical releases (although PBS Frontline still rocks), further evidence of the end of era.

Let us pray for YouTube…

US/1; US/12; US/16; Endofhunger.org]

Washington Post, 23 June 2008:

Smith said there's no longer a market for documentaries on British TV, but stories still abound, awaiting a documenter and a festival such as this. "If I told you I had written a script about an English brain surgeon using a Bosch handyman drill to operate on a man who's awake, fully conscious, in the KGB hospital, you'd think I had too many drugs," he said, in nearly one full breath. "But that's literally the truth we see in the film."


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