YouTube Originals is planning to stay focused on the U.K. market for the present and will release documentaries featuring British personalities, bestselling pop star Anne-Marie, music entrepreneur Posty and gamer Behzinga this fall.
“Currently we are keeping firmly planted in the U.K.,” Luke Hyams, head of YouTube Originals EMEA, told Variety. “We are reviewing plans of expansion into other territories, but right now, for this year and the beginning of next year, we really are focusing on the U.K.”
The fall documentary season begins with four-parter “Together We Rise: The Uncompromised Story of GRM Daily.” Launching Sept. 28, it tells the story of YouTube channel GRM Daily, a leading platform for various U.K. rap genres, and its founder Posty, the young, Black, British entrepreneur. It is produced by Warner Music Entertainment and directed by Theo Williams.
Posty said: “The doc showcases the passion and hard work that has been collectively put into U.K. rap music to help build it to being at the forefront of British music; it’s a story filled with inspiration and hope for the next generation.”
The cast includes Skepta, Giggs, Stormzy, Julie Adenuga, Kano, Ghetts, Aitch, Ms Banks, JME, D Double E, Zane Lowe and Dizzee Rascal.
“We always try and make sure that we have a slate that is reflective of what’s going on in the U.K.,” says Hyams. “When we were approached with this idea over a year ago, we recognized the merit of it as a brilliant story of Black entrepreneurial excellence that begins on YouTube, and we thought it’s a good opportunity to make a piece that gave a voice to this one story which is kind of an everyman story, no matter what color you are.”
“In terms of the BLM movement, obviously, right now it feels timely to be releasing this piece, but this is always the type of stuff we are working on,” says Hyams.
The U.K. plans also include a documentary series labeled “How To Be,” that looks at the personal lives, struggles and challenges of their subjects and exploring their impact on U.K. society. Feature-length film “How To Be: Anne-Marie,” releasing later this fall, produced by Renowned Films and directed by Sally Freeman, is told by Anne-Marie, her family, friends and collaborators, and will explore how she’s emerging from the coronavirus period.
“Doing what I do can be pretty fast-paced, so to have a bit more time during the lockdown to think, digest and reflect on some of my favorite moments from career to date has been both emotional and cathartic,” said Anne-Marie.
Three-parter “How To Be: Behzinga,” that launches Oct. 5, is produced by Electric Robin and directed by Kevin Batchelor. Born Ethan Payne, Behzinga is one of the U.K.’s most popular YouTubers with over five million subscribers, and is a part of YouTube group Sidemen. The documentary follows his journey from overweight gamer to endurance athlete with an ultimate goal of running the London marathon.
“We saw a great opportunity to get talent talking and provide an educational blueprint to others who are ambitious, because you know the old adage, ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.’ That’s really the heart of this project for us,” says Hyams.