Dealing with Covid-19: Why global thinking is vital in lockdown

Laura Michalchyshyn

TBI’s extensive coverage around the impact of Covid-19 continues today with Laura Michalchyshyn, chief creative officer and co-president of content at Blue Ant Studios, who explains why global partnerships are becoming even more vital to deal with the fall-out from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Like so many in the production business, we’re adapting to a challenging time during the Covid-19 global pandemic. We’re simultaneously navigating two realities: finding ourselves still in the midst of the recent content boom, with a surge in opportunities to develop and produce high-quality content, while grappling with this time of collective global uncertainty and the worldwide production halts.

While we’re all approaching it in our own way, a common and encouraging throughline that’s become evident over the past several weeks has been the overwhelming sense of unity and coming together across the industry on an international scale. We all love to create. We want to keep creating. And we’re working closely with our partners to be nimble, innovative and supportive as we all adjust to this new workflow.

Picking partners

At Blue Ant Studios, one thing that is bolstering us during these ever-evolving times is our network of creative and business partners across the world. With production companies in five different countries – the US, Canada, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand – global partnerships have always been a core element of our business. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve focused on seeking out partnerships that are not only profitable but people-first, built on a shared vision of mutual goals, talent and values. Building collaborative relationships around the world elevates the quality of the work produced and motivates the entire creative process.

Partnerships on an international scale only stand to become more important as the industry looks ahead to the realities of shifting and safe filming practices

These values-driven international partnerships have been impactful for many reasons:

First, partnerships enable unique access to both new and tested IP. Partnering pushes you to new markets and can unlock access to IP that you may not have previously been familiar with. Our Singapore-based production company Beach House Pictures recently announced an exclusive deal with JumpStart Games to develop the first ever-Neopets animated TV series. Neopets is an iconic brand beloved by multiple generations. Through this partnership, we have the opportunity to scale up and bring added dimension to the brand. Together, we’re developing new characters and storylines, which will leverage a built-in audience of millions of fans, as well as introduce the brand to new audiences on a global scale.

International partnerships open up access to different audiences, different landscapes and deeper talent networks. We’re currently working with the incredible teams at World of Wonder and Bellmedia’s Canadian streaming service, Crave on the first season of Canada’s Drag Race, which will premiere later this year. The format became a cultural phenomenon in the US with RuPaul’s Drag Race, and when World of Wonder was looking for a partner to bring the series to a new audience, it was a great opportunity for both of us to bring this to the Canadian market.

Canada Drag Race judges (LR: Brooke Lynn Hytes; Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman; Stacey McKenzie)

Third, partnerships offer added, and often much-needed, flexibility. On a practical level, there are clear financial benefits to partnering on projects. As streamers and new platforms are continuing to develop, they’ve also made room for more diverse, niche and quirky content that may not have previously been a realistic option for traditional broadcasters. And as these shows find their audiences, the opportunities for creators to partner with more diverse talent from different parts of the world has also increased. Finding partners in new markets only deepens that talent and creative pool. Also, as the effect of the pandemic is different in various parts of the world, these partnerships will allow for unique filming opportunities when countries begin opening up for production at varying times.

And finally, working with people who inspire you is very rewarding. When you put people and talent at the center of your projects and work to create content that you believe in, it’s especially rewarding when you do it together with people that are also trying to change the world for the better. It provides a platform for an array of voices from interesting places to come together to produce something great. It’s also more innovative, which often shows in the finished work.

Partnerships on an international scale only stand to become more important as the industry looks ahead to the realities of shifting and safe filming practices, as buyers and networks look for possible solutions to potential content holes, and producers work to creatively rise up to help fulfill these content needs.

And while the current situation is challenging on many levels, it’s been a clear reminder that great things can happen when people from all backgrounds work together – and put people first.

Laura Michachyschyn is CCO & co-president at Blue Ant Studios, with a remit to bolster strategic growth in unscripted and scripted, notably in the US market. She was previously president of Sundance Productions, which she co-founded with Robert Redford, and has also worked at Alliance Atlantis and Discovery.


Read Next