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Cooking approach helps set the world TV market alight

WHILE it seems that the whole world is enamoured with cooking shows, Mago Films executive producer Marion Bartsch (pictured) is not shy of the challenge to make her product stand out in a crowd and is trying her hand at producing a cooking series with a unique Australian flavour.

The series, Surfing the Menu, throws the elements of food, travel and adventure into the mix and follows leading London-based Australian chefs, Ben O’Donoghue and Curtis Stone on their whirlwind cooking tour around their home nation.

The production has been pre-sold to both the ABC and the BBC and the series is expected to appear on Australian and UK TVs by the end of the year.

Ms Bartsch said it was a real bonus for the series getting O’Donohgue and Stone – both have been big hits on British TV screens with their respective cooking shows.

Western Australian-born, O’Donohgue worked with cooking show guru Jamie Oliver and presents the BBC series The Best while Victorian-born Curtis has his own series on the UK Food channel.

Thrown into the production agreement is a cookbook merchandising deal, which will be widely distributed throughout Australia and overseas. Half of the locations were set in WA.  

Ms Bartsch said that she chose to film in WA because the locations were fresh.

She said food travel type shows had a fabulous appeal in the international market and shows such as Surfing the Menu would have a lifespan of at least seven years.

The commercial nature of the series leant itself towards being an attractive investment opportunity for private investors.  Indeed, Ms Bartsch was able to raise a third of the required funds from private investors.

She said the merchandising deal, the ABC and BBC presales and the international appeal of the show helped the figures stack up for investors.

“In the past a lot of people got their fingers burnt with people putting their money into the wrong film projects,” Ms Bartsch said.

“Today, rather than being driven by the tax credit, investors are being driven by the real potential to get their money back and get real returns.”

Ms Bartsch said that for private investors to get the returns on their investment the film or TV series would have to have a wider market than Australia.

The series will be taken to the October Cannes Mipcom TV market, she said, and  the series was already generating market interest.

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