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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

CONVERGENCE Working Title TV

IN THIS POST: This links into several posts on convergence and ownership issues, and explores just how converged a company WT really is ... and the influence of ownership on this. I briefly raise points discussed in detail in previous posts.

Screenshot of the Wiki.

WHAT THIS WIKI SCREENSHOT TELLS US...
Great academic research, eh?!
This tells us three key things before we consider more recent developments:

  1. WT had ambitions to break into TV very early on
  2. Their original attempt came in the same year (1991) they established a US office - an aggressively expansive company
  3. Like so many initially small UK Indies, their early releases were co-produced with one of the two big UK TV companies involved in film investment: C4/Film4 and BBC (just look at Warp and This is England 25 years later!) 
JUST HOW INVOLVED IN TV ARE WT?
Very...

They're about to hit the landmark of 100 episodes of TV programmes produced!
As of May 2015, they had 97 programme episodes listed on IMDB.

WHAT TV HAVE THEY PRODUCED?
A range of US and TV series. The most notable one, in the context of convergence, is About a Boy, an adaptation from the film ... which was an adaptation of Nick Hornby's global hit novel ... but with a much younger chap than the Hugh Grant of today to ensure the audience isn't skewed too old.
About a Boy is an American single-camera television sitcom developed by Jason Katims that premiered midseason on February 22, 2014, following the 2014 Winter Olympics on NBC. It is the second adaptation based on the 1998 novel of the same title by Nick Hornby, preceded by the 2002 theatrical film.The series stars David Walton, Minnie Driver and Benjamin Stockham.Successful songwriter and bachelor Will Freeman lives a carefree life as the "ultimate man-child". His perfect world is turned upside down when single mother Fiona and her 11-year-old son Marcus move in next door. Takes place in San Francisco, CA. [Wiki]

It ran for two seasons on NBC, being cancelled just this month (8th May 2015)! The setting was of course American.
scroll further down for more on About a Boy , including a gallery
Below are the shows currently highlighted on WT's website:

From the WT website.




HOW DOES WTTV DESCRIBE ITSELF?

The blurb on their website's TV link.
Notice any familiar terms?
- first-look deal: corporate parent NBC-Universal can pick up any of their productions, but are not committed to distributing (and exhibiting) any. This is the same basis on which WT's films have recently been downgraded to
- joint venture: not quite the same as the film setup, wherein NBC-Universal owns 67% of WT, but the TV production is a straight 50/50 deal between the two; joint ownership

Back in 2011, here was an analysis of WTTV's first six series:
Four of Working Title TV’s six projects are at NBC and Universal Television, which have a first-look deal with the company through the joint venture arrangement ... Universal TV also produces The Outside Man, a light drama Working Title TV has in the works at NBCU’s flagship cable network USA with Matt Johnson and John Turman writing. The company’s remaining project, thriller drama Off The Grid, was set up at ABC before the recent relaunch of the former NBC production arm as a full-fledged studio producing for all networks, so it will be shepherded through ABC Studios.
So, NBCU is of course their primary US outlet. They have also, more recently, produced several series for the BBC which have been sold internationally.

BLURRING (CONVERGING) THE FILM/TV DIVIDE?
From the same Deadline article back in 2011:
Working Title Television’s goal is to take the company’s sensitivity on the feature side and “put it into television and make programs and series that carry the Working Title brand to a different level,” Bevan said. Along with its brand, Working Title is transitioning to TV many of the writers it works with in features.
So, they're explicitly trying to bridge the film/TV divide. This is of course reflective of a wider trend, with a huge number of big Hollywood names - actors, directors, screenwriters etc - increasingly working in both or even abandoning cinema for TV, and the long-form narrative it offers.

MORE ON ABOUT A BOY
There are two key examples from Warp and Working Title; This is England (Warp) and About a Boy (WT), though Fargo (produced by NBCU, not WT [originally a Coens movie from WT]) is also linked in.
We can easily see how ABoy demonstrates convergence ...
The About a Boy Facebook page; 1st of 3 screenshots... 'Liked' by 157k people!!! Thats a lot of free publicity (putting aside the cost of creating, updating and crucially updating/interacting on such pages, something Warp generally struggle to do), as every Like means the updates are viewable by the Friends of the Likers!


Remember, Veronica Mars happened as a movie because so many fans of the TV kept posting on social media about their desire to see more. Here we can see possible signs of a clamour for more of About a Boy - a nice example of 'exchange'

NBC's promotion extends to multiple social media, all prominently linked on the FB page
That the Facebook page is the 5th hit on the Google search indicates the success of NBC's to engage with the audience.


Here we can see both proliferation and convergence (or, if you like, spread of new technologies) - a search engine and an online retailer (originally of physical media) both offering downloadable episodes.

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