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‘Ground Breakers’ nabs up sales

Docu series profiles Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg

BIARRITZ, France — Upside Distribution, owned by French media conglom Havas, has scored pre-sales on “The Ground Breakers,” a six-part investigative documentary series profiling six entrepreneurs including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

“Ground Breakers” also spotlights Nike’s Philip Knight, Virgin’s Richard Branson and Ikea’s Ingvar Kamprad.

Now in production, the series has pre-sold to ZDF in Germany and Russia’s Channel One.

The first episode, “The Way Steve Jobs has Changed the World,” was delivered and sold to 30 broadcasters, including NHK (Japan), N24 and ZDF (Germany), RAI (Italy), Foxtel (Australia), Globo (Brazil) and Al Arabiya (Middle East).

Upside head of sales and acquisitions Christophe Bochnacki said most of the first episode buyers were negotiating to license the remaining five parts.

Each one-hour episode is based on 90-minute documentaries that recently aired on French commercial net M6 as part of the popular weekly TV mag “Capital.” The original docus were produced by Upside Television, Tac Presse and STP Prods.

Seeing the international potential, Bochnacki said he had the idea of packaging the docus into a series and pitched the concept to the other producers.

“Once the producers greenlit the idea, we asked each filmmaker to review all the rushes and go back to the editing room to come up with shorter versions and a fresh editorial angle.

“In today’s market, the role of sales agent has expanded. We have to be really involved editorially to help shape programs for worldwide audiences and bring added value to the producer,” Bochnacki told Variety.

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