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Knickerbockerglory puts staff on freelance contracts

Staff at GPs: Behind Close Doors indie Knickerbockerglory have all switched to freelance contracts as managing director Jonathan Stadlen sets out plans to “avoid re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” due to the hit that coronavirus has had on the business.

The indie, which is free from third-party investors, has asked most of its 11-member team to give up their full-time staff roles and work remotely as it strives to weather the Covid storm.

Stadlen said the company is “guaranteed to lose money on each show” as PSBs “race to the bottom” on budgets, with the future of its Channel 5 fixed-rig medical ob-doc currently uncertain. He also plans to look further beyond the PSBs, building on the impact of its Netflix feature doc American Murder: the Family Next Door.

The restructure is intended as a cautionary measure rather than a long-term model of the indie, which allows all staff, including freelancers, to take a share of its profits. Stadlen extended his Titanic metaphor by saying he wanted to be “building a more fit-for-purpose boat”.

Zinc secures £4m growth fund

Zinc Media group, the owner of factual indie labels Blakeway, Brook Lapping,Tern Television, Films of Record and Red Sauce, has secured £4m from a fundraising round in the City.

Chief executive Mark Browning said the investment would provide a "bulwark" against further disruption from Covid-19, which pushed Zinc into the red in September after revenues fell by 50%.

Zinc used its previous £3.5m investment in January to launch the Red Sauce label and a branded content arm, as well as new post facilities and a new London office.

BBC Studios ties with Putin doc indie Rogan

BBC Studios has struck a three-year first-look deal with Rogan Productions, the indie behind last year’s Channel 4 documentary series Putin: A Russian Spy Story.

BBCS will have first refusal on distributing Rogan’s premium documentaries and series and will offer the indie development funding.

Rogan, founded by husband and wife James and Soleta Rogan in 2013, also made Channel 5 single Diana: The Interview That Shocked the World and is currently working on a Channel 4 three-parter about ex-Daily Mail editor Paul Acre.

BBCS previously signed a similar agreement in April, with Louis Theroux’s burgeoning indie Mindhouse Productions.

Tiger Aspect chief stands down 

Banijay UK is “considering the next phase of leadership” for Tiger Aspect after the indie label’s chief executive Damian Kavanagh stood down after two years.

Banijay UK executive chair Peter Salmon is working with the company’s UK chief executive Lucinda Hicks to establish a succession plan for the former BBC3 controller, who oversaw Tiger Aspect shows such as BBC3’s Man Like Mobeen, BBC1 comedy The Other One and Jack Whitehall’s Netflix series Travels With My Father.

Netflix eyes more reality game shows

Studio Lambert has landed its third Netflix show as the SVoD ups its commitment to reality game shows.

It is casting on both sides of the Atlantic for Jet Set (working title), in which contestants will be flown to a tropical location, where they will compete in a series of challenges with a big cash prize at stake.

The All3Media-owned indie is also working on All The Right Moves (working title) which aims to uncover a superstar choreographer, and the US version of Channel 4 show The Circle.

Fellow All3Media indie Lion Television is also producing a Netflix format, working title The Date, which promises a ‘unique’ experience for the singletons that take part.

Anthony Joshua forms content company

Boxer Anthony Joshua has teamed up with sports PR and producer SoapBox London to launch a content studio and production house.

SBX Studios, which looks after Joshua’s archive of behind-the-scenes material since his 2013 professional debut, will develop and produce long-form sports and entertainment documentaries as well as brand campaigns, podcasts, YouTube channels and live event content creation.

The company is an extension of the production services SoapBox London already offers for brands including DAZN, Hugo Boss, Turkish Airlines and Matchroom.

SoapBox London also runs YouTube channels for many high-profile athletes, including one for Raheem Sterling that has amassed 350,000 followers.

Firecracker beats rival indies to top prize

Firecracker Films has been crowned multichannel production company of the year at this year’s Broadcast Digital Awards.

The Tinopolis-owned indie, which is based in Glasgow and London, beat Merman, Strawberry Blonde, Fulwell 73 Productions, CTVC and Workerbee to the award.

Recent output has included three shows for UKTV channel W: Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over, Emma Willis: Delivering Babies and Emily Atack-fronted Adulting. It is also behind BBC Scotland’s Rogue to Wrestler and E4’s The Sex Clinic and has shows in advanced development at Sky, Viacom CBS and Discovery.

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