Off The Fence’s (OTF) Bristol-based production arm of the factual content company, is restructuring its management team and expanding its production capacity to meet a “surge in demand” following its 2021 Academy Award for Netflix’s My Octopus Teacher.

Karen Meehan, who has been with the company since 2007, has been promoted to chief operating officer from head of production.

In her new role, she will work with OTF’s Amsterdam-based CEO Bo Stehmeier and Bristol-based chief creative officer Allison Bean to set the company’s operational strategy, manage its budget across its four locations in Bristol, London, Amsterdam and Toronto, and help implement “organisation-wide goal-setting, performance management, productivity and secure infrastructure for its new three pillar business model.”

Meehan, whose 30-year career spans the BBC, PBS, Discovery, National Geographic, ITV and Animal Planet, will also oversee the renovation and expansion of OTF Bristol’s facilities. Two new buildings are currently being renovated and, once completed, will increase capacity from six to 14 in-house editing suites, with the possibility of expanding this to 20 suites by repurposing office space. The project will also deliver an additional 13 offices with room to house 68 people, along with new post-production facilities with ingest stations; online, graphics and grading suites.

Meehan said: ‘OTF is a fantastic company, populated with wonderful people, and I am looking forward to helping drive its new operational strategy and to implement ways in which our shared vision can become a reality.’

OTF was founded in 1994 by Ellen Windemuth. In 2019, it was acquired by ZDF Enterprises, the commercial arm of the German public broadcaster.

Allison Bean CCO said: “For the last two decades, our Bristol production base has quietly been making some of the best wildlife programming in the world — a fact that was finally recognised last year with the Oscar for My Octopus Teacher. Karen’s appointment and this investment in our facilities will enable us to bring more, and even better, non-scripted storytelling to the world, produced by a more diverse team in a greener, kinder production environment.”

Jon Creamer

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