Japan’s NHK seeks to diversify co-pro partners with independent filmmakers

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NHK wants to further diversify its international co-production partners towards more independent filmmakers, it revealed to Sunny Side of the Doc in France.

Producer Yuko Fukuyama and Senior Producer Shin Yassuda managed to make the trip from Japan – where travel is still restricted – and discussed the Japanese broadcaster’s strategy in international documentary co-productions, which they oversee.

The broadcaster began working in co-productions in the 1980s with CCTV in China on The Silk Roadbefore teaming up with European pubcasters with The Miracle Planet in 1987, before gradually working with others during the 2000s.

“We have diverse partners and are increasingly working with independent filmmakers,” they said. Producers should be patient, however, as the process can be lengthy, they said.

NHK is interested in both third-party projects and seeking co-producers for its own projects. In 2021, he is involved in 42 international copros, including I am Wolverine with the American company Red Rock Films, The life of a rhinoceros with German Doclights and hidden india with Seance Entertainment in India.

It has also concluded agreements with many French partners, including on programs such as Climate justice with Yami2, Rivers above the canopy with ZED, The Mystery of the Cave of Casquer with the Gédéon Programs, science and sports with Good Pickaxe.

The different strands for which NHK is seeking pre-purchases or co-productions include World Documentaries (15 documentaries per year), Cosmic Front (about five documentaries per year) and The Wildlife. He seeks exclusive access, news discoveries, well-researched and innovative styles and relevance.

Among the documentaries initiated by NHK, the duo highlighted Satoyama, living with snow and The volcanowith Arte France, as well as Radioactive forest ten years laterabout the Fukushima nuclear disaster which was created with CuriosityStream for which two additional versions were produced – a 65-minute cut for Curiosity and a 52-minute cut for International.

“The goal is really co-creation,” the duo said, with the ambition to get involved, or involve partners, as soon as possible for better creative input. “The sooner the better,” the NHK pair added.

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