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Banff 2016: Skip the Elevator Pitch — Go Straight for the Gondola

The first in a series of posts from TV industry figures involved with the Banff World Media Festival, taking place in the Canadian Rockies June 12-15.

It's a great feeling to be in post and finishing up the second season of our survivalist thriller drama series Between, which airs in Canada on CITY for Rogers and in the rest of the world via Netflix. We’re pretty fortunate that the show, created by writer/director Michael McGowan and starring Jennette McCurdy (iCarly), has been a runaway success.

What many people may not realize is how the international portion of the deal for the series came together. It was during an incredibly scenic gondola ride soaring above one of the most beautiful places in the world (Banff Alberta, Canada, during the annual Banff World Media Festival).

The Banff festival is just about the only place I can think of where you can combine the best weather, mountains and drinks while catching up with the world's biggest entertainment content creators, platforms and global networks in a fun and relaxing environment.

It all started well before this gondola ride however, when Michael McGowan and I met with the team at Rogers. We pitched Between and they loved the concept and immediately put in an order for scripts. We then started the development process to make the show a reality. We had our Canadian pieces in place but still needed a global partner.

Our friends at Elevation Pictures have a strong relationship with Netflix and suggested we meet with them while in the Rockies. We consulted with Rogers and told them we'd be pitching the idea to Netflix to be our broadcast partner for the rest of the world and I don't think they quite believed us. 

The wheels were put in motion to meet Netflix at the Banff World Media Festival. It was their first time attending the festival and I recall it was also the first time these particular executives had been to Canada.

We got to the event and proceeded with the Between conversations. We had been cooped up in the conference venue for too long and decided collectively to get some fresh air and take in an attraction together. The gondola is an incredible treat--you ride up Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park to discover 360 degrees of exhilarating views that includes six mountain ranges with breathtaking vistas in every direction--and it seemed like the perfect option for us to take complete advantage of our hour together. The ride was a fantastic, relaxed setting in which to get to know each other and educate our Netflix colleagues a little more about Banff and the surrounding areas…and before you knew it, we were on to talking about the project and their interest in it. We had a captive audience the entire time.

After the ride, everyone was off to their next meetings and we were able to move the discussions forward from there after we all returned home. The Netflix executives shared the pitch (and of course their pictures from the gondola ride) and materials with their colleagues. Shortly thereafter, everyone fell in love with Between. No contract was signed during the festival, but this is where we officially kicked off the international portion of our deal, which is an experience I will never forget. Before we knew it, Netflix was officially onboard and we were into production.  

It was an unbelievable timeline. Everything happened in under a year. We had our initial pitch meeting with Rogers in November, went to work starting developing materials in January, met Netflix in June and by August we were prepping for an October start to production.

We currently have several projects set up at Netflix and we will continue to attend Banff every year. The dates for Between’s second season, premiering on CITY and Netflix, will be announced in the coming weeks, stay tuned!