Sarah Hammond, chief creative officer at Jack and Harry Williams’ Two Brothers Pictures, told TV Drama Festival viewers about the outfit’s unique approach to storytelling that has resulted in global hits like The Tourist.
Hammond, an Emmy-, PGA- and Golden Globe Award-winning television producer, shared her insights in a keynote session with World Screen’s Anna Carugati that you can watch here.
Two Brothers Pictures is a writer-led company, Hammond stressed. “Harry and Jack are uniquely placed to identify quite quickly which stories have the legs for serialized storytelling, which ideas have that depth and projection.”
As for her own tastes, Hammond is always drawn to “stories with a point of view and a lead character with something compelling and different. In a crowded marketplace, those perspectives are key.”
She continued: “Why now is a really important question to ask yourself. When you look at Harry and Jack’s writing, shows like Angela Black have a certain kind of timely nature to them. On the other side, shows that were big hits like The Tourist, tonally just felt so different and so exciting. That’s something that we’re always looking out for.”
As for what other factors weigh in on crafting a development slate, Hammond noted, “We’ve got really intelligent TV-literate viewers now. They change their minds often; the new becomes the old pretty quickly in television nowadays. A broadcaster can tell you what they’re looking for, and then six months later, it changes. I f you’re looking at streamers, the algorithm plays a big part. One of the things that we always look out for is, is it crowded territory? That’s one of the things that often informs a decision, especially if it’s a genre show.”
Two Brothers Pictures has a wealth of partners across broadcast and streaming, and the differences between those two types of clients have diminished over the years, Hammond said. Indeed, streamers are starting to commission projects “that feel a bit more mainstream” and could just as easily be seen on a BBC or ITV.
The conversation then moved to managing costs amid inflation and talent shortages. “On the drama side, we have pretty healthy budgets,” Hammond said. “They certainly reflect the content that we want to make. It’s always a challenge, and you have to make editorial adjustments to ensure that you deliver it on budget.”
The session wrapped with Carugati asking Hammond about the challenges and opportunities in scripted today. “It’s a very crowded marketplace,” she said. “How do you stand out from all of the things that are being read by the commissioners all of the time? How do you grab the viewers once you get something greenlit? That’s always a consideration. And it is a challenge because it is getting harder and harder to get those greenlights. On the flip side, there are so many places to pitch things to now.”