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Indie outlook for 2011

11 January 2011

Televisual asked five small-to-medium sized independent production companies for their views on business prospects for 2011, and found that few execs are betting on a big pick up in the TV market

Simon Huntley
Finance director, Keo Films

2011 will probably be fine for the "super indies" but it will be tough for everyone else. The "smaller guys" are going to have to diversify or face the prospect of nil or negative growth. Maximum exploitation of content via primary sources (TV) and the full range of ancillary revenues has to be addressed and not merely paid lip-service to. Indies will need to invest in people, systems and processes that enable them to squeeze every last penny from the content they own. These pressures may be too great for some but those that can handle it should emerge into 2012 and beyond as stronger and more competitive.

Charles Thompson
Creative director, DCD Factual

2011 should be the year of change.  We will see how Jay Hunt changes Channel 4 and, for the first time, BBC One has a controller younger than most of its stars. How will he make his mark on Britain's most important channel? Will 2012 see them remembered as a force for good? Meanwhile, the nakedly commercial channels will continue to drive through radical changes to the way in which UK indies have been used to working. Peter Fincham is part of fast-moving populist revolution at ITV, whilst Jeff Ford manfully tries to maintain Channel 5 as a network of value. And, my tip, as the network(s) to watch: UKTV. The changes, they are a blowin' in the wind...

Mike Watts
Md, Novel Entertainment

In recent years independent production has rightly been identified as a success story at home and internationally, but this is largely because producers have found more ways to exploit their creative assets and formats to cover gaps in funding. Fees are down, margins shrinking and the hard fought for terms of trade are under attack. 2011 will be critical as the first effects of the freeze on the BBC's licence fees are felt and producers will need to be even more resourceful to maintain their businesses at current levels.

John Marley
Creative director, Archie Productions

Our biggest challenge in 2011? The same old, same old...Show Me The Money! Finding a broadcaster who doesn't share Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard affliction when it comes to budgets will be the trick....too many of those closets are empty. It would also be nice to find a commissioner who is willing to take creative risks. There are a few but they are the exceptions. Pitching nowadays is a bit like leaving port and cheese out for Santa only to discover the rosy-cheeked git has eaten the lot and not left you any presents.

Nicky Huggett
Head of development, Windfall Films

Throughout 2010, constant accusations were thrown at the channels for not taking risks and for cutting budgets but I believe that indies who are consistently producing high quality programming will continue to be trusted with risky, ambitious and costly projects. It comes down to trust between commissioners and indie producers. But today, projects solely funded by one broadcaster are increasingly rare. In 2011 commissions will be there for those who can make the co-production business work for them. But a word to the wise - it takes lots of time and patience to make these relationships work.

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