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Cordell Jigsaw and Zapruder’s Other Films merge to become ‘super indie’

Two of Australia’s top independent television production companies have merged to become what they describe as a “super indie”.

The merger of Cordell Jigsaw and Zapruder’s Other Films forms the fifth major TV production house in Australia and the biggest privately owned production company.

Separately, Zapruder’s Other Films, founded by Andrew Denton and Anita Jacoby, has produced The Gruen Transfer, Hungry Beast and forthcoming gameshow Randling while Cordell Jigsaw, founded by Michael Cordell and Nick Murray, is best known for SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From and Ten’s Bondi Rescue.

Murray, managing producer at Cordell Jigsaw told Mumbrella: “Talks started  six to eight months ago when myself, Andrew and Julian Morrow of the Chaser’s Giant Dwarf productions were lobbying the ABC for funding.

“The whole idea is to compete with international companies Southern Star Endemol owned by Silvio Berlosconi, Shine owned by News and Rupert Murdoch, Granada, Fremantle owned by German company RTL. It gives us a critical mass to have a seat at the table.”

Murray said it was inefficient to administer a medium sized production company. He said:”It’s better to be bigger or smaller than both companies were.”

The combined group will be called Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder or CJZ but both will initially continue to produce shows under their own banners.

“There are certain kinds of show that each company is specialised in. We’re not trying to change the DNA of the companies. Future productions will come out under separate companies.

The merged company has 14 productions slated for 2012 across ABC, Foxtel, Nine, SBS, with ten in production at the moment. Of the 14, seven are new productions, Murray said.

Zapruder-originated programs include game show Randling, hosted by Andrew Denton for ABC1, observational documentary Country Town Rescue and Dumb, Drunk and Racist, a co-production with the Chaser’s Giant Dwarf productions.

Cordell Jigsaw productions include tele-movies The Great Mint Swindle to air on Nine, and Mega Truckers for Foxtel’s A&E channel. Also slated for 2012 is re-newed versions of Go Back To Where You Came From, Bondi Rescue, The Gruen Transfer and Can of Worms. Murray also said, with his and Denton’s experience in comedy, they’d be looking to nurture the genre back onto TV.

Murray told Mumbrella while the company has optioned some formats, the business is about creating ideas: “It’s about generating exciting new ideas rather than coming in with a tired catalogue of shows from Holland. The shows we make we’re really excited about. The value comes when you export the idea.”

Murray said the production company has sold the Go Back To Where You Came From format into five or six countries in Europe and about to sell in America. Likewise, The Gruen Transfer format was about to sell into the USA.

The recently formed Cordell Jigsaw Distribution will handle the CJZ libraries and formats internationally.

Denton and Jacoby talk to Mumbrella in 2010:

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