Two of Australia’s independent TV production houses have merged to form a “super indie,” it has been announced today.
The merger sees Zapruder’s Other Films, founded by Andrew Denton and Anita Jacoby combine with Cordell Jigsaw, founded by Nick Murray and Michael Cordell, to be titled Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder (CJZ).
The talks began six to eight months ago, as Murray and Denton worked together lobbying the ABC for funding, but a deal wasn’t inked until last week.
As a merged production company it makes Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder the most prolific producer of Australian created shows with 14 shows slated for 2012 across free to air and subscription TV, including seven new productions such as tele-movie The Great Mint Swindle and Randling as well as seven re-commissioned productions such as Go Back To Where You Came From, The Gruen Transfer, Bondi Rescue and Can of Worms.
Murray, managing producer of Cordell Jigsaw told Encore: “Both companies have core creative teams and part of the reason is to get them working together to enhance our development capabilities. 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.”
This was backed by a comment from Denton: “We have long seen ourselves, separately, as local corner shops, up against multinational supermarket chains importing overseas formats by the container-load. Combined, we will have greater strength to continue championing lovingly made, original, Australian television. We remain the fresh food-for-thought people… only bigger”.
Both companies will continue to produce their shows under their original banners, as Murray said: “There are certain kinds of show that each company is specialised in. We’re not trying to change the DNA and future productions. It’s about having the structure around the creative people to give them the best opportunity to flourish.”
Murray told Encore: “Andrew and I have strong comedy backgrounds and we want to do more with nurturing comedy – there is almost none on TV at the moment.”
Murray also told Encore the company was focused on producing original formats rather than buying overseas formats from catelogues. “The value comes when you export the idea.”
The merged company is in the process of selling rights for Go Back To Where You Came From to five or six regions in Europe and about to close a deal in the USA. Likewise, The Gruen Transfer format is also about to make international deals. The recently formed Cordell Jigsaw Distribution will handle the CJZ libraries and formats internationally.