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Joel Zimmer Talks AGC Unwritten


Joel Zimmer, president of AGC Unwritten, tells TV Real about the new label’s focus on creating elevated unscripted content that can be produced economically.

This summer, indie producer AGC Studios set up an unscripted and nonfiction unit and tapped Magical Elves alum Zimmer to lead the new label: AGC Unwritten. With the move, AGC built on the success it had already garnered with its non-scripted projects, including The Tinder Swindler, which was a breakout hit, becoming Netflix’s most-watched documentary ever and the first doc to top the streamer’s list of its most popular films worldwide.

“AGC Studios was looking to expand its presence in the non-scripted space in a meaningful way,” Zimmer tells TV Real. “I knew Lourdes Diaz, the chief creative officer, and had partnered with AGC on a previous non-scripted project, so the conversations started organically. Previously, I’d helped build a production company from one series into a powerhouse that would do as many as 14 series a year. It was an incredibly exciting and fulfilling time in my career, and this was an opportunity to do that again. So, I really jumped at the opportunity to do it again with the backing of a best-in-class studio like AGC.”

The focus for AGC Unwritten is on creating elevated unscripted content that can be produced economically, Zimmer says. “Those things don’t always go hand-in-hand. But we’re lucky to be small and nimble and able to move quickly and keep costs down. Yet, we can approach storytelling and our look with the same premium lens our film or scripted units are known for.”

He adds that the company is hyper-focused on content with a unique concept and great characters with elevated storytelling.

Zimmer came to AGC Unwritten with a wealth of experience honed over 20 years as both a content creator and media executive. Most recently, Zimmer had served as executive VP of development for Magical Elves and, prior to this, ran an independent production banner, Snow Day Entertainment. He also was formerly head of current for 495 Productions.

“I was fortunate to spend time at two companies that approached the market from almost polar-opposite perspectives,” says Zimmer. “But both had equally incredible success, and those experiences have really shaped my approach here at AGC.

“I learned to identify great talent and how to shape loud, buzzy comedic narratives at 495 Productions while still being very cost-conscious. 495 was a startup when I joined, so I got to play a key role in its growth. It was a grind, but I really learned how to build a company from scratch and what pitfalls to avoid.

“My past few years at Magical Elves were focused on development and sales. We had a relentless drive to elevate each pitch and ideate new format elements that would break through in a crowded pitch market, and that was invaluable.”

Both were female-led companies, and that point of view has been ingrained in how Zimmer approaches shows, “which is super helpful as the unscripted demo is tilted female.” He adds, “Though, as a big sports fan, I’m currently working on some partnerships in the sports world. We see an opportunity in sports-adjacent shoulder programming, and that’s something that wouldn’t have resonated at my previous companies, so that’s the fun part of sitting in this seat now.”

In terms of the future focus, development and sales will “take up a lot of bandwidth in the near term,” Zimmer says. “We’re building out a world-class development team led by BJ Levin and will be taking some exciting new series and documentary features to market. We already have offers on our first project. Both BJ [executive VP of nonfiction content] and I have produced thousands of hours of content, so we feel confident in establishing AGC as a trusted production services partner to the networks and streamers.”








About Kristin Brzoznowski

Kristin Brzoznowski is the executive editor of World Screen. She can be reached at kbrzoznowski@worldscreen.com.

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