A changing of the guard is underway at the production company formerly led by Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff.
The London-based outfit, historically known as Insight TWI (The World Investigates), is rebranding as Insight Films, with producers Clive Patterson and Hugh Davies taking ownership as co-directors of the business, which specializes in hard-hitting documentary fare.
Insight Films’ recent credits include the feature documentary “Sing, Freetown,” in which investigative journalist Sorious Samura travels to Sierra Leone to create a theater production about the nation’s history with playwright Charlie Haffner; and three-part BBC One series “Football’s Darkest Secret,” an in-depth investigation into historical child abuse in English football.
New leadership has been expected for some time, given Ossoff’s election triumph in January. The Atlanta native, who waded into the political ring shortly after Donald Trump was elected president in late 2016, won one of two Georgia Senate seats, alongside Rev. Raphael Warnock, in a nail-biting runoff election that helped the Democrats clinch control of the U.S. Senate. Ossoff, who boarded the U.K. production company as CEO in 2013, had to forgo all other professional ties as a result.
Ossoff is credited as an executive producer on both “Sing, Freetown” and “Football’s Darkest Secret” and was also involved in Insight’s 2018 film “Stacey on the Frontline: Girls, Guns and ISIS.”
The senator tells Variety: “The thing I’m really happy about is that when I took over the company, part of what I set out to do was move towards bigger productions, bring in more clients, add ambition and increase diversity of the company’s client base, and those years of effort really bore fruit.
“Just before I left to enter the Senate, we took the company to even greater heights with our BBC Three productions in Iraq, the BBC One series on child abuse in football, and a successful conclusion to ‘Sing, Freetown’ with [former BBC Storyville boss] Nick Fraser, significant projects that have been in development for a long time and told vital stories. The company is in the strongest position in its history and that’s a great place for me to pass the torch.”
Patterson, who recently produced and directed multi-year project “Sing, Freetown,” which has premiered to plaudits from critics and an extended theatrical run in the U.K., tells Variety that Insight Films is keen to continue Ossoff’s work in diversifying the company’s output.
“Moving forward, we are focusing on making more high-end feature docs and series that combine rigorous journalism with creative storytelling, collaborating with talent from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to push the form of factual filmmaking,” said Patterson.
Investigative fare has been a core pillar in the company’s ethos since its founding in 1991 as Insight News Television by BBC journalist Ron McCullagh.
“We will always be interested in telling revelatory stories that hold power to account,” said Davies. “Quality journalism is in the DNA of the company and has been since its founding 30 years ago by BBC veteran Ron McCullagh. We’re proud of the company’s history in this space, particularly our work supporting investigative filmmaking in Africa. We will continue to collaborate with journalists and filmmakers who are working on important stories around the world.”
Insight Films is currently in the works on a new feature documentary directed by Peter Middleton (“Notes on Blindness,” “The Real Charlie Chaplin”) which has just entered production.
The company is also developing another landmark series with BAFTA-winning director Daniel Gordon, best known for the 2014 documentary “Hillsborough” and “The Trials of Oscar Pistorius.”