UK TV producers delegation visits Israel

  (photo credit: ALEX PERGAMENT)
(photo credit: ALEX PERGAMENT)

The UK film and TV industry is one of the world’s best creators of TV content. UK TV exports accounted for £1.6bn of revenue in 2020. Yet despite the huge successes, and the fact that both Israel and the UK internationally punch well above their weight, very little of this trade is done with Israel.

The British Embassy in Israel wanted to change that.

That is why, back in January 2021, when both countries were still in the throes of dealing with Covid, Ronee Isaacson from the International Trade Team at the British Embassy contacted Pact, the TV producers’ association in the UK, to spearhead a new collaborative initiative focused on TV, which was particularly pertinent given how badly the TV production industry was impacted by Covid. This first step led them to Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE, from Pact, Danny Fenton CEO of Zig-Zag Productions and Israeli industry TV format heavyweight Avi Armoza who were all equally excited  to discuss the best way for collaboration between the two countries. 

The initiative started taking shape in 2021, with its launch scheduled to take place on the  HMS Richmond, part of the UK’s Naval Carrier Strike Group, which docked in Haifa back in July 2021. Unfortunately, the UK side could not attend due to Covid restrictions. Finally, in March 2022, the idea came to life. Fourteen producers from the UK arrived in Israel for a 3-day trip to explore the landscape of the film and TV industry in Israel. With the significant help of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their cultural lead, Nurit Tinari, and in partnership with the Israeli Producers’ (Film & Television) Association ‘Mefikim,’ they met with Kan 11, Reshet, Keshet and i24 News, the latter showcasing the delegation as a news feature on their channel!

UK TV producers in Israel (Credit: Alex Pergament)UK TV producers in Israel (Credit: Alex Pergament)

 The British visitors even met with the producers of the amazing “Shtisel” Netflix hit show in Jerusalem. Panel discussions were held on important topics such as disability on screen and how the government can support locally produced content.

The ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the event was the co-production competition for the best new joint idea for a UK/Israeli TV show. The final event took place at the British Ambassador’s residence in Israel and the winner was awarded a £12,000 grant to develop their new TV idea. The grant essentially provided a financial incentive for the producers to come together and bring their production to the screen. The judging panel consisted of senior commissioners from Hot, Kan, Keshet and the British Ambassador, Neil Wigan OBE.

After an hour of pitching six  amazing ideas for co-production and a very close result, one winner was announced - “The Boy Who Cried miBot” – a dystopian animation project created by Gareth Strachan from Blisstopia Productions and Michael Kallner from MK Productions.

“Understanding both the possibilities and limitations of what we as Brits could bring to the Israeli film and TV industry – and vice-versa – was a learning curve for all. They say positive things happen when opportunity meets preparation – and I would say that we had both of those elements in our favor,” said Gareth.

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