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Notes from the Reel World: The President's Column, June 2005

By Richard Propper

Dear IDA Members,

Just off the plane from Cannes, back from MIPDOC and MIP-TV. These were two successive markets that served up many, many buyers and sellers in one place. This year MIPDOC was different in a couple of ways. There were more than 300 screening booths and more activities for the documentary filmmakers in attendance. These screenings were digitized for the first time. What does that mean? It used to be that distributors or producers sent off six copies of their film on VHS. A library of sorts was installed and the buyers could "check-out" your show at their own private viewing station. This time, they were able to review a guidebook of 1,057 documentary programs, read the summary, enter in the multi-digit show number and the program appeared on their screen. More programs were screened overall as buyers didn't have to wait in line for tapes.

Curious to know what the top five requested programs were? The Story of 1, The Real Da Vinci Code, Beyond The Da Vinci Code, Miracle Planet II and 5th Dimension. Haven't heard of some of these titles? Neither had I, but that is a good sign for independent filmmakers. The buyers actually look at a show based on its description. Pretty fair approach, as it doesn't take a yacht or shiny catalog to get the buyer's attention--just the strength of the topic. Some of these titles were, in fact, broadcaster-produced programs out on the open market, and others were titles produced by the readers of this magazine.

The IDA is moving through 2005 with a number of great events this year. The Board of Directors is working to bring forth a better and more vital IDA. We have two platforms of communication to reach our members: the website and this magazine. Both are being reformulated to serve you better. Is there anything you would like to see more of? Less of? What could we do better? Please e-mail your suggestions to me at or to Michael Rose, chair of the Communications Committee, at

One last thing: There has been some new talent showing up at the major news networks in the past couple of months. Does anyone care? The slick presentation of news has gotten so far out of hand. Changing the person delivering the news doesn't change the apparatus from which the news is formed. Independent documentaries are a catalyst for change and the only independent means of getting a story without boundaries. The world is waiting for the next installment of change.


Until next time,

Richard Propper
IDA President