Natalie Lawley, the managing director of Escapade Media, tells TV Real about how the company has seen a rise in content that appeals to family audiences, the type that provides entertainment but is also informative.
“The travel and lifestyle genres have also risen in demand, allowing audiences to travel vicariously within the Covid-19 world we are currently living in,” says Lawley. “This genre also inspires future planning, invites viewers to cook new recipes and try other activities within this restricted world.”
Escapade’s 2021 slate was impacted by the production shutdowns last year, Lawley explains, “although we did not experience any cancellations, but later delivery timelines. We are incredibly fortunate to be located in Australia, where the virus has been relatively contained. Our production partners have been able to restart production for some months now, creating an attractive and safer location to produce.”
Escapade has experienced a significant increase in interest across development titles, especially those going into production and delivering in 2021. “Escapade’s focus has always been to offer very globally appealing content, so we anticipate the combination of these two factors will provide very positive results for the company throughout 2021,” Lawley says.
The company’s factual slate infuses internationally relatable concepts while retaining the soul of the Australian creative industry. “This has been at the very heart of our intention since the inception of the company,” Lawley points out. “We look to take stories from Australia, or wherever the origin of the story may come from, and present these stories in such a way that they relate to global audiences and are produced for both local and global markets.”
Heading into production, the 6×1-hour Chasing Chaos: The Story of Dr Ian Norton has a vision to steer global emergency responses. Dr. Norton is a medical lynchpin in apocalyptic zones of disaster and crisis. In this series, he opens up for the first time about his mission to find a new way to combat disaster by drafting a set of international protocols titled The Blue Book. “This is a story of hope,” says Lawley. “The series offers a rare and exclusive look into the fight to provide the best standard of emergency medical response in the world’s worst situations, the scale of which can only be realized by looking back at the most horrific tragedies and witnessing the evolution of these practices in action. Natural disasters are increasing, global pandemics are evolving into the ‘new normal’ and our ability to respond is crucial. Our need to understand is paramount. Preparedness and partnerships are crucial.”
The 8×30-minute Back to Nature explores the need to reconnect with the land around us for physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. The series looks at nature through mythology, geology, unknown and unexpected stories, traditional Indigenous knowledge and new scientific understandings, underlining how each of these supports and carries the world we live in. “This project faced the bushfires in Australia and then was affected by Covid, but this fabulous team, Rebecca Barry from Media Stockade and Jane Manning of Threshold Pictures, are now delivering this fantastic series,” Lawley explains.
The documentary Big vs Small hit the festival circuit, and Escapade is now closing deals for the title, which is about elite big wave champion surfer Joana Andrade (known as the tiny fighter). “Big vs Small is a modern-day fairytale stretching from the raging monster waves in the south to the dark stillness of a far north frozen Finnish lake; it’s about power and strength on top of the water, and facing demons under it,” says Lawley. “It’s about trust, it’s about letting go, and it’s about what happens when two elite female champions share their extraordinary talent with each other—the battle isn’t on the wave.”
Looking out at buying trends for 2021, Lawley says that one of the main needs will be around completed content. “We saw this demand increase towards the end of 2020 and anticipate this to continue in 2021. Escapade has also seen an increase in interest in our development titles that are about to enter production in 2021. Not only can clients have comfort around delivery of the content in a Covid-safe environment, but they are also able to secure new content for their schedule.”
The focus for Escapade in the year ahead is twofold, she adds. The company will be focusing on supporting the production of two non-scripted series and three scripted series. It is also in the process of finalizing agreements with consultants for selected regions “so that we have greater on-the-ground coverage in this Covid world,” says Lawley.