Some 80 British production companies and distributors are in Washington this week trying to drum up business at the Realscreen Summit. 

It’s the highest number of British producers that have ever attended the factual TV market.

Realscreen has emerged as an important market for British factual producers looking to win business from the 70 or so US broadcasters in attendance who commission original content.

The Summit has 2,500 attendees this year, and has taken over the entire Washington Hilton Hotel for the three day event. 

The hotel acts as huge market place, with several large rooms set aside as meeting spaces where projects can be pitched, ideas exchanged and relationships built. 

British indies here say that Realscreen is now like a mini-Mip and is a good place to do business – one that is worth the minimum £2,000 per person that it costs to cover the flight, hotel and delegate pass. Indeed, the weekend flights from London to Washington were full of British producers making the journey to the US capital. 

Many of them spent most of Monday locked in a procession of 30 minute meetings with US buyers in the delegates lounge or at the British Pub on the first floor.

The British pub is hosted by Pact, which has 50 British indies here under its banner. They include Wag TV, Reef, True North, Testimony Films, Icon, Keo, October, Shed, Tern and Raw Cut.

On Sunday night, the British ambassador – keen to show government support for the UK creative industries – hosted a reception at the Embassy for British companies attending Real Screen.

Meanwhile, US commissioners from AMC and Animal Planet right through to VH1 and WE tv are giving talks about their commissioning needs for the year ahead. 

And they are certainly open to working with UK producers, who have a strong reputation for making non-scripted and reality shows – like Gold Rush and Undercover Boss. The US, after all, is the UK’s largest television export market according to Pact figures – worth £475m in 2012, a 11% rise. Indies like Zig Zag and Firecracker now earn over 50% of their total revenues from the US.

Certainly, Realscreen seems more focused and personable for producers than the giant Mip markets. The Cannes markets are more distributor led and factual producers can get crowded out by their scripted and entertainment cousins. 

Prospects are already looking positive, say the producers that Televisual has spoken with here – and that’s only at the end of day one. 





Tim Dams

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