The paper stems from research undertaken as part of SiFTI (Success in the Film and Television Industries), a research project analysing the production cultures of several small-to-medium sized critically and commercially successful film and television companies across four European countries. The UK-component includes case-studies of companies including Icon Films (Sandhurst; Africa’s Giant Killers), Origin Pictures (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Death Comes to Pemberley), Number 9 Films (Made in Dagenham; Great Expectations), RED Production (Happy Valley; Scott and Bailey), Rook Films (Kill List; A Field in England) and Warp Films (Dead Man’s Shoes; ‘71).
Drawing on original interviews conducted with senior company personnel, we will explore the extent to which engagement forms a key component of these companies’ strategies for success and survival in contemporary, converging and transnational film and television industries. Contrary to the emphasis on audience engagement that one might expect from companies which depend on audiences paying to view their work, many companies focus their efforts on engaging other industry actors. From public broadcasters such as the BBC to multinational cable channels and media corporations such as The Discovery Channel and Studio Canal, the ability to create and sustain relationships with other industry players is a form of media engagement upon which these companies depend. This paper examines the causes and consequences of these engagements and their relationship to the companies’ continued critical and commercial success.