Chris Sanders

Chris Sanders – The Journey Begins

Written by Chris Sanders

Well, this has come around quickly…

Here I am at the start of my year, and I still haven’t fully registered that I’m now in the Sunshine State, where after a quick morning dip in the Atlantic, I’ll be diving headfirst into NATPE, before catching a quick flight to New Orleans for Realscreen.

This year I’m going to work on improving my understanding of the international formats industry, and, in turn, honing my development skills.

Throughout 2020 (and beginning with this big trip to the States) I want to uncover what the latest aesthetic and thematic trends in TV are from a global perspective. Namely, I want to know what effect the rapidly evolving relationship viewers have with the medium of TV—be it free-to-air, streaming sites or catch-up—is having upon the programmes we make. When you work in TV it can be easy to lose sight of your naivety, and the intuitive decisions viewers make. Meeting producers from around the world and picking their brains on the subject will, I hope, further my understanding of where our industry is headed, and what shows we should be developing right now.

My first stop is NATPE. Here I’m especially looking forward to the FRAPA led ‘What The World Is Watching: Global Formats’ session, as it brings together some of the biggest names in TV from around the world to discuss the latest trends in our ever evolving industry.

As someone who works in development and has only worked at one company as a researcher, I think the most exciting thing for me to will be to hear first-hand what’s working for US commissioners and what’s not; the kinds of shows they’re looking for, and what no longer works for their channels. The chance to meet them and ask questions will really help me broaden my understanding of these current trends, and types of shows the industry is moving towards.

After the excitement of NATPE I’ll only have time for a quick breather before hitting New Orleans for the 2020 Realscreen Summit. For me, the standout feature here has to be the ’30 Minutes With’ sessions. In these intimate, interactive talks, commissioners will outline their programming strategies, future plans and priorities, which will really give me some direction in the continual development of our slate here at Zig Zag.

I’m very keen to expand my horizons in this regard, in order to move past some of those aspects of TV which, in my opinion, just aren’t working right now. I feel much what’s produced by the likes of the BBC and Channel 4 aimed at 16-25s is so often what commissioners think we want, rather than what we actually want.

Getting an international perspective will help me formulate my own ideas of how producers from across the world see the future of youth programming developing. We have a responsibility in television to produce programmes which address the vital issues of our immediate future, so it’s distressing, for instance, that so little time is spent addressing issues fundamental to our time – such as the climate crisis – in creative, urgent, and purposeful ways.

I also know my big trip to the USA is really going to help me improve upon skills associated with my job that I know I need to work on – most importantly the art of pitching. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to head to the US with some of my Zig Zag colleagues for a series of pitch meetings. There’s a knack to pitching that can only be acquired through practice. Previously I’ve found myself nervous and tended to waffle, but I can think of no better opportunity than this to continue building my pitch abilities and confidence. The chance to meet and listen to leading experts and commissioners and pitch to them will, I’m sure, help me gather the necessary skills I need to make the transition from Senior Researcher to AP, one of my principal goals for the coming year.

I’ve never even been to America and the scale of the adventure I’m about to embark on has me nervous and excited in equal measure. BUT it’s currently 30 degrees and really sunny in Miami, so something tells me I’m going to be just fine…

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Chris Sanders

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