Dancers, pyramids, Pompeii, chefs, landscapes from the north and the south, minerals and animals… The documentaries promoted by Terranoa make it to every screen. The variety of their catalog and the strategy they have implemented have enabled Terranoa to avoid the many pitfalls of 2020 and announce a particularly vibrant 2021. Isabelle Graziadey, Terranoa’s Executive Director International Copro, Sales & Acquisitions, presents the company’s current and upcoming hits.

The interview

TV France: Your numerous recent sales seem to show a trend emerging…

Isabelle GRAZIADEY: Yes, indeed, since the beginning of the pandemic we have tried to build our offer around themes that seem relevant: Travel, Knowledge, History, Animals, the Arts and Biopics.

So work like The Last Hours of Pompeii, Pyramid Builders: New Clues and The Untold Story of The Vatican,  that bring together Heritage and History have had great success (sold to VRT, RAI, Viasat, TVP, Kultura, RTBF, Sky Italie, RTP, RTV Slovénie, RTV Slovaquie, Ceska and RTVE).

Older Modern History series like The Day When…  (5×52’) have been bought by CCTV and rights have been renewed by ZDF info.

Travel series like Wonders of Northern Europe (5×52’) filmed in 4K have also been sold in more than a dozen countries.  

Very recently, a new animal documentary filmed in 4K, Maasai Mara, Wildlife Crossover (2×52’), found takers very quickly (RTS, 3Sat, NC+, First HD Russia, Odisea…). This just shows that channels need to fill the air with new content due to delays on a certain number of internal productions.

Subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms have also grown stronger in 2020 with a total of more than 150 multi-themed hours purchased (Curiosity, Alliant, Cinephil). For series like Planet Chef (12×52’), which never really found its slot on foreign TV channels, particularly in the USA – we took the initiative of launching on Amazon, and we are currently working on a dedicated marketing plan. You have to experiment with this kind of structure for online content.    

We also have high hopes for pre-purchases and purchases of our 5×52’Travel and Discovery series:   Top of the Rocks, for which filming stopped during six months because of COVID-related restrictions. It’s starting up again soon ready for delivery in January 2022. This series was pre-bought by Servus, NC+ Pologne and Ceska a year ago, and we have noticed a growing interest in this kind of major Discovery series, which should sell well.

TV France: And we haven’t even mentioned Ressaca, for which you have had some excellent sales.

Isabelle GRAZIADEY: The example of Ressaca is interesting and demonstrates the importance of participating in festivals and in prizes, which offer films exposure and accelerate sales. The film’s Best Documentary nomination at the Emmy Awards in the Arts category in late November 2020 really gave it a boost. It was bought by NHK, SVT, Sky Arts New Zealand, RTP, Brut, and several SVOD platforms in Brazil.  

TV France: Nature, current affairs, history… what are your criteria for choosing the documentaries that you promote internationally?

Isabelle GRAZIADEY: Our acquisition policy takes into account several elements. For single programs, the quality and newness of the program, plus its event potential, along with an experienced team and brand new access are all things that help create a strong marketing strategy. That was the case with Children of Chaos, what became of WW2 orphans (2X52’) produced by Elephant & Cie for prime time on France 2. For series, on the other hand, we look at the longevity of the format and the originality of its approach – these things will help it sell internationally. It is with this in mind that we got on board early with two nature series, Animal Democracy (2×52’ – Cocotte Minute) and Animal Construction (3×52’ – Docland Yard), both of which take a fresh look at the animal kingdom. And, even more recently, a series called After Chaos (3×52’ – Docland Yard), which casts a new eye over the history of World War II by looking at the reconstruction of four emblematic cities destroyed by bombings in 1945 – Le Havre, London, Berlin, Warsaw, and which features an innovative use of archive footage. The series should be delivered at the end of the year.

TV France: You are often called to go beyond your role as an exporter…

Isabelle GRAZIADEY: Yes, the role of distributors has changed a lot, and our early-stage involvement in certain projects can lead us to play the role of agent. That was the case on the series

Moochie (6×45’), a long-term legal investigation filmed in Florida over more than four years and coproduced by Canal+. The project was first noticed by colleagues in our Washington office (Laetitia Giansily Doyle) during a pitching session in New York in 2019. We were impressed by the quality of the six episodes, and we worked on creating the proposal and the promotional tools in English alongside the producers (Geko Films and Empreintes Digitales) before hitting the American market. We are currently in talks with a major US network.

TV France: And 2021 looks to be a full year with plenty of documentaries…

Isabelle GRAZIADEY: Yes, while the pandemic had a significant impact on filming, it did allow producers to work on writing and developing new projects.

And it also led us to look at foreign content and catalogs for programs – like Immersive World (10×26’), a very original series produced for WNET Arts that takes us on a journey through all the forms of art that use new immersive technologies – from museums and galleries to new collective cinema and musical experiences. There is a real revolution underway in this field, which turns the spectator into a player and offers new, more participative aesthetic styles.

TV France: We’ll be seeing each other soon, online at least.

Isabelle GRAZIADEY: Yes we are counting on Le Rendez-Vous Docs in March to engage and federate foreign documentary buyers and expose them to a selection of the year’s most promising French projects. During this period, when many of us are working from home, without the chance to meet up at markets, these kinds of Rendez-Vous help rally the troops from both sides and create a time for meetings and exchange online, which rebuilds and strengthens the links among our community. The documentary Made in France is still an attractive brand.  

ITALY. Pompeii. October 2018. New excavations. Here Venus with a masculine figure and Eros.