More buyers, more opportunities – but also more challenges in today’s climate. In anticipation of Real live screen, we present the Reality Report, examining the main trends and issues impacting the unscripted production community today across three genres: Reality Competition, Shiny Floor, and Travel. The thread that ties these characteristics together is experimentation. More than ever, producers and buyers are venturing into new territories, mixing genres and taking risks to slice and respond to an ever-growing appetite for the unscripted.
While those working across all unscripted genres faced disruption to varying degrees, the producers of travel programs have gone through some of the most difficult circumstances.
Security measures have resulted in some projects being downsized and scaled down as producers have discovered how to bring travel concepts to the screen, often at an additional cost, says Lydia Tenaglia, founder of Zero Point Zero. – CNN producer. United Shades of America and Netflix Someone feed Phil (photo below).
More than a year after the start of the pandemic, Tenaglia says ZPZ is now at full speed on development and “imagining bigger ideas” for what travel shows look like in a world and a world. changing entertainment landscape.
âThis is going to become our strange new normal. As people get vaccinated and things return to a semblance of normalcy, we are all going to figure out how to cope, âshe adds. âYou see a greater openness to different types of development and to larger concepts. People figured out how to do it, how to do it safely, so we’re just trying to go ahead and do the same.
In 2013, ZPZ and CNN aired the first episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Over 100 episodes, 40 countries, multiple Emmy Awards and a Peabody later, the genre’s flagship series, which ended in 2018 after Bourdain’s death, has passed the torch to more recent programming such as CNN’s. . Stanley Tucci: In Search of Italy (main photo).
The six-part travelogue, produced by Raw, became CNN’s third-best original series among viewers after its February 21 premiere.
“The very strong reaction we have Tucci wasn’t totally surprising, just depending on how much people want warm programming that transports them to a place they’ve never been or a place they feel like going right now, âsaid Lyle Gamm , senior vice president of CNN Original Series. âAs people recover and come out of this horrible pandemic, I think travel programming is going to be something that people want more and moreâ¦ I don’t think it will just be a trip alone. I think it will be a trip mixed with a bigger POV.
Although ZPZ was not involved in the manufacture of In search of Italy, Tenaglia says the series had the basic structure of a “beautifully engaging” travel show, and its success has proven that viewers always seek that particular style of travel programming, even if streamers take a different approach.
“I see streamers turning away from what they call the ‘anthology series’, which is self-contained, hosted travel vanity, as people scramble to try and find eyeballs amid so much content that comes to the table, âshe said. âThe trend we’re all seeing is the push towards an arched narrative series that forces audiences to keep watching from episode to episodeâ¦ We’re trying to adapt. We’re trying to figure out how you take a concept and build it so that it has a guideline that walks you through all the episodes.
âOn the one hand, I see the tendency to move away from autonomous hosted travel, and on this side, I tell myself that there are all indications that there is always an incredible appetite for it. So we will continue to move forward in both directions. “
WORK CLOSER TO HOME
For now, producers are still at the heart of the travel restrictions. Tenaglia says ZPZ is “hyper focused” on finding viable locations without compromising creation.
âIt suddenly becomes the change of your priority – where can we go to execute what we want to accomplish? ” she says.
In March of last year Andrew Zimmern, chief, TV personality and CEO of Intuitive Content (MSNBC’s What eats america), saw an opportunity to delve deeper into local storytelling.
âThe first thing we did was sell our partners regional trips,â he says, noting that some of prodco’s top-rated programs have seen the filmmaker and host explore places such as Boston and the Minnesota State Fair. âWhat matters is not the distance traveled. What matters are the stories.
With this in mind, the company was able to bank a digital series and two different projects – Zoe cooks and Family dinner (photo below) – for Chip and Joanna Gaines soon to be launched Magnolia Network.
âI can’t wait to go and travel 10,000 miles to shoot an episode, but the real thing is being able to quantitatively prove to our buyers that there are a million travel stories that can be told closer to home. Hopefully now that things open up and we look four or five, six months down the line, I think we’re going to be off again soon to tell stories from all over the world.
And as growers travel to faraway destinations, or even neighboring communities over the coming months, they will be faced with an evolving set of responsibilities.
Coming out of last year, during which calls for the unscripted industry to address racial inequality issues escalated, Zimmern says producers have an obligation to pass the mic.
âThe evolution of food and travel programming was already on the table for anyone to see before COVID,â he says. âThe job of experts like me when we are in the field is to help uncover these stories and let these stories be told without a stranger, without an American traveler, giving them a blessing.
âWe now have an obligation to tell these stories, to empower those whose voices have not been heard – not just in our national storytelling, but also in our international storytelling. “
Gamm says this obligation also extends to the team working on the project.
âIt’s really important that we have a diversity of people on the project. We are a large network and it is important for us to be very inclusive and to include many different points of viewâ¦ We are always on the lookout for diverse talent on all of our shows.
OPEN A NEW EARTH
For producers, the past year has been an opportunity to develop new concepts. These projects may soon see the light of day as travel becomes, for some parts of the world, a little easier.
âThere’s so much in the pipeline over the past year that is travel-based,â Zimmern says. âIt’s going to take a while for this to catch upâ¦ I think the buying market is going to increase and I would encourage buyers to remember that this is an explosive category. We have seen that Q4 ’21 trips are already on the verge of overtaking Q4 2019 trip numbers – consumers are booking trips like crazy for this time frame. They will want to see the places they are going.
Gamm says the CNN Original Series team has a few travel shows in development and two series in production.
âThey approach the trip a little differently,â he says. âWe have one which is a natural history travel show that we are reviewing that is in production and has not yet been announced. And then we have another show on food travel that we’re about to start producing from a very different point of view than Stanley Tucci’s. “
As ZPZ approaches two decades of activity, Tenaglia finds ways to reinvent the genre. She says the company’s next CNN series Nomad with Carlton McCoy, run by the sommelier, entrepreneur and CEO and who uses wine as an entry point to examine culture, is one example.
âWe’re still trying to crack the egg we’ve already made,â she says. âWe did it, even in format, with our [PBS] series of The spirit of a chef, where we used a lot of multimedia and we used animation and different ways of telling a storyâ¦ We have a concept called âFood in Fisticuffsâ, it has a scripted element built into a travel concept. It’s actually something that we were working on with Anthony Bourdain years ago that really turned him on.
“It’s like, how do we take the genre and constantly try to redefine it? … We try to play with the visual construction of travel television, and how we as a business are breaking what we are doing. were doing it before and creating something that, once again, feels genre defining. It is always a priority for us. It is an exciting challenge for us. Hope we can surprise the audience in the future.