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November 2018
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Production 100 2009 Back to Reports & survey Listing

Indie challenges and concerns

A snapshot of feedback from indies asked in the Production 100 survey about their challenges and concerns for the coming year


Falling Budgets
The number one concern of indies responding to the Production 100 survey is, by a long way, falling budgets. “Budgets have been cut for commissions,” notes Attaboy TV. “Budgets are tightening to unsustainably low levels to maintain quality,” says True Vision. It’s a point echoed by Hardcash Productions, which speaks of the difficulty of “maintaining our same high quality on lower budgets.” Twofour is concerned about “maintaining profitability in the face of falling budgets,” while Raw Cut says “the slowdown in the commissioning process and reduced budgets are going to make any investment in the company’s future expansion very difficult.” Optomen adds: “The challenge has always been, and remains, to deliver high quality must-see shows that viewers love. The new challenge is to continue to do this on reduced budgets from broadcasters.”

Survival
Many indies don’t beat around the bush – in such a difficult climate, survival is the main objective. Asked about its challenges and concerns for the year ahead, Televisionary says simply: “Survival!” For So Television, it’s about “survival and prosperity – in that order.” Even for a superindie like Talkback Thames, “maintaining a viable business” is one of its key focuses.

Commissions
Securing commissions from broadcasters in such a challenging environment is, naturally, a key priority for indies. For World’s End, it’s about “getting commissions in tough times.” At True North, the focus is on, “Ensuring that we secure a good number of commissions – and manage to extract sufficient profit from them. Our key aim is to deal with a growing number of commissioning editors, in the terrestrial, non-terrestrial and international markets.”

Diversification
The tough home broadcasting market means that diversification is of growing importance to traditional indies. Reef Television highlights the need to “win more work in different genres and with different broadcasters to ensure we become more secure and less reliant on one or two commissioning departments / broadcasters.” Touch Production’s aim is to “keep a healthy UK/US balance in our commissions and output.” Indies are also branching out to find new sources of financing. A key challenge for Rondo is “ensuring gap financing for international co-productions,” while Topical is looking to “to gain more value from international rights.”

Development
Icon Films is one of many indies to flag up “the difficulties of maintaining a large development spend without external funding.” Lambent says that “financing development” is a key challenge, while Touch’s concern is “to reconcile our development spend with the very long periods it takes to get a response.” Blink Films stresses the importance of “keeping our development slate as varied as possible to allow for a broad range of commissions.”

Cost Control
Cost control, naturally, is top of many indies agendas in a recession year. For DLT Entertainment, the challenge is “to reduce costs while continuing to invest in project development.” Steadfast stresses the need to “get the returning series we have in production recommissioned and to control production costs and maintain budgets from broadcasters at the same levels as 2008.”

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