Briefing Notes: Networking breakfast with Unreported World
For our first breakfast briefing, we invited the new team behind Channel 4’s Unreported World to talk about the documentaries they produce and how to pitch stories to them.
Unreported World is Channel 4’s international current affairs strand. It now appears twice a year with each run consisting of six programmes. Their brief is to cover international stories that are not being covered by mainstream news. Marta Shaw, the series producer says it’s a challenging brief. Often they have good stories but, when they start looking into them in more detail, they just don’t feel there is enough for a 24 minute film. The key is actuality – viewers want to see events unfolding on the screen – or some sort of narrative. Finding a good character to access a story is also important but that often comes later.
Marta showed clips of three recent Unreported World films (all available on their YouTube channel):
- Krishnan Guru-Murthy reporting on the violence in Cancun
- Seyi Rhodes on the mudslide in Sierra Leone
- Marcel Theroux on rappers in China
Each series of six has a mix – travelling to different parts of the world and a featuring some hard hitting stories with others that are more like features. Marta said the strand has moved on from its current affairs origins and now has more of a documentary feel.
Documentary ideas and subject areas considered
The current series is now underway and will be shown in April. But there are still slots to fill. So Marta and her colleagues are especially keen to receive pitches for stories that could be filmed in March. Failing that, the next filming will take place in June-August. Each film needs to be shot in a 15 day period in one country, in one or two locations. Access is also key as this often proves a stumbling block. In the current run, they are already committed to films in Mongolia, Brazil and India, but they are keen to find a middle east story and one in Africa. The Middle East one can have more of a geo-political feel. They’ve been looking at Congo, DRC, Lake Chad, Indonesia. Probably not Iraq as this has featured a lot on Channel 4 recently. They are committed to stories about the environment and climate change, and disability too.
Eamonn Matthews, Managing Director, also spoke about other films being made by Quicksilver – they do big single current affairs films for the BBC, Channel 4 and Discovery. Recent films have been in Syria, Iraq, Japan, India and also on Ebola. He’s keen to hear from anyone with suggestions for longer pieces.
How to pitch to the Unreported World team
The whole team at Unreported World are happy to receive pitches by email so feel free to contact them. Pitches don’t need to be long and detailed, just a few lines to start with, and they will respond if they are interested. It’s unlikely that the initial pitch will be exactly what they want but they will work with you to flesh out the idea.
- Marta Shaw, Series Producer firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Eamonn Matthews, Executive Producer and Managing Director firstname.lastname@example.org
- Alice McShane, Associate Producer email@example.com
- Cassie Charlton, Associate Producer firstname.lastname@example.org