Award-winning producer and commissioner Adam Gee specialises in short form/online video and digital interactivity. He is one of the most experienced commissioners in UK broadcasting of TV-based multiplatform. This November, Gee will deliver a talk to audiences drawing upon his wealth of experience, and recent shorts series, which include Naked & Invisible and Drones in Forbidden Zones. Ahead of his masterclass, we interview Gee about his role at Channel 4 and his future projects.
ASFF: As one of the UK’s leading producers and commissioners of factual short form, what would you say is your biggest motivation and how do you sustain your interest in the industry?
AG: I love short form above all film formats – it’s like what short stories are to novels, no waste, every frame, every transition counts. It makes telly seem very flabby most of the time.
ASFF: In your award-winning career to date, what are the biggest changes you have seen to public service television?
AG: It’s very tough seeing the sustained assault on the BBC in particular and Channel 4 too by commercial rivals and lackey or ideologue politicians. People will be sorry if they’re gone but may not realise until it’s too late. The big challenge is to stay in step with how people are actually watching, finding, selecting and sharing video.
ASFF: You have worked on a diverse range of programmes, many of which incorporate transmedia campaigns based on social values, such as Embarrassing Bodies and Fish Fight. As a producer, how integral do you think the public value of a project should be and do you feel integrated campaigns deserve more exposure in the industry?
AG: Being able to deliver public value through television and interactive media is a privilege and gold standard. There’s a sweet spot where TV meets online interactivity which, when you hit it, is most powerful. At present there’s an understandable obsession with online video which means interactive formats are being neglected. Channel 4 was the world leader in TV-centric multiplatform until 2014 but now has no multiplatform commissioners left.
ASFF: How important do you feel film/ documentary festivals are for the genre of short film and in your opinion, how integral is narrative structure within online short-form video?
AG: Festivals are crucial for showcasing and encouraging short form, especially non-scripted. Short form is a great shot in the arm for documentary and factual. The narrative structure of factual shorts is critical and quite different from TV and long form. It’s what separates spurious partial views from completed views, the metric that matters. Many telly people bring too much baggage to be able to do it well and, the other side of the coin, many young or maverick filmmakers are great at structuring their fresh visions effectively.
ASFF: Following on from your success at Channel 4, what are your aspirations and do you have any exciting projects upcoming?
AG: I commissioned at Channel 4 for 13 years, always with a focus on its remit to innovate and inspire change. I enjoyed every minute there but I have many things I still want to do so am enjoying my liberty away from the corporate structure. Beside working on various short form factual entertainment projects, I am just about to shoot my first post-Channel 4 documentary on location in Paris as director and co-producer which is a kick.
I am working on a VR project with the Department of Psychology at Cambridge. And, weirdly, I’ve been asked to write a movie script ‘based on a true story’ which I’m thoroughly enjoying as it takes me outside my comfort zone – which is a good place to be to stay fresh! So a rich mix of projects with some fantastic people.
Adam Gee: Creating Short Film with Impact, ASFF 2016, Friday 4 November, 10:00 – 11:00Quad South Hall, York St John University.
To book places on this masterclass, visit www.asff.co.uk/asff2016/masterclasses
1. Back To The Fjords. Sebastien Montaz-Rosset. Documentary category at ASFF 2016.