MIPFormats Session Explores Paper Formats


Global Agency’s Izzet Pinto, BBC Studios’ Sumi Connock, The Story Lab’s Fotini Paraskakis and Ascendo TV’s Nathalie Wogue discussed their experiences working with paper formats at a MIPFormats session this morning moderated by ZigZag Productions’ Danny Fenton.

Pinto, founder and CEO of Global Agency, said opportunities to sell paper formats can be found everywhere. He referenced Keep Your Light Shining, which was a paper format with an animated promo. “ProSieben picked it up, and it was on air after six months. Germany is not an easy territory. You never know; it can be small territories or big territories. You need to find one key person. When you take a risk, you can be lucky. I think we have to find entrepreneurial spirits who we can convince and it can be a win-win for everyone.”

Connock, creative director of formats at BBC Studios, noted that Korea has emerged as a hot territory recently. In the U.K., there were four entertainment paper formats that landed on BBC One in 2017; in 2018 there were 13, Connock noted. “The U.K. has opened up and started taking a few more risks. That risk-taking is so important. Our two most successful formats are in ballroom and baking, things you would not think would be globally interesting. Taking risks is massive.”

Paraskakis, executive VP of entertainment at The Story Lab, stressed that the company is “platform agnostic and client agnostic. So it’s really just about the idea and where it could sit. You can get a paper format faster to air in emerging markets, although the U.K. and the U.S. are changing. There’s more of a move to getting international ideas. But it’s faster getting paper formats to air in other territories; they are more entrepreneurial and probably have less money. So they have holes to fill, and if they see a good idea, and it’s extremely competitive, then they are prepared to back it.”

Wogue, partner at Ascendo TV, said that even more “conservative” markets like France are now more open to taking risks on paper formats.

Pinto said he has always believed in paper formats. “One of every three paper formats we present sells, which is a good number.” They can sometimes be a slow burn though—Joker has become one of Global Agency’s top sellers, six years since the company started selling it. Similarly, The Remix started as a paper format, with Global Agency funding the pilot. It was commissioned as an original by Amazon India, seven years after its creation.

BBC Studios has found that broadcasters want to see something beyond a paper pitch, Connock said. “With our paper-to-pitch fund, that is all about us working with new creatives. It’s a fund we can use to get something over the line.”

Pitches come to The Story Lab in all forms, Paraskakis noted. “They come with bits of paper, they come with nothing, they come with a tape. We try to establish a relationship and see what’s there and either we put resources forward or tie them up with another production company.”