We Talk Film and TV Rights with Chris Herriott
Chris Herriott is our UK sales agent here at the Caroline Wakeman Literary Agency. Chris not only works with publishers but with broadcasters and producers as well. He is helping us sell our author’s stories as children’s programming as well as books. Chris’s background in the TV industry is perfect for doing just that!
Read our interview with Chris to find out more about his background, what he’s doing for CWLA, and his experiences at industry exhibitions.
1. What is your background in TV and Film?
I have had a passion for film and television my whole life. As this passion grew I realised I could study it and eventually make a career in the industry. The film and television industry is an incredibly diverse sector that provides a myriad of areas in which to work. In my career, I’ve worked with film and television companies providing voice-over artists for TV commercials, television programs and films. I have also worked as Producer and New Business Director for film content companies, working with advertising agencies, brands, and charities creating content from adverts to branded content. Prior to joining CWLA, I worked in television distribution, selling factual content from UK producers to countries around the world. The beauty of having worked in so many different areas of the industry is that I’ve gained a broad understanding of how the industry works.
2. What are you doing at CWLA to help them get more involved in selling TV and Film rights?
We have an exciting slate of titles both published and unpublished. My role is to work with the management team and select those titles we feel are most attractive to broadcasters and producers. My favourite aspect of the role is championing these titles and reaching out to broadcasters and producers, stirring up attention for them. There are many ways to get titles from page to screen. More and more it requires multiple companies to come on board to secure finances and creative requirements, so I relish the opportunity to meet as many people as possible, creating lasting relationships to bring the titles to screen. We have such incredible IPs on the slate, it makes pitching them to broadcasters and producers a joy.
3. What makes a popular children’s animation? Is it different from what makes a popular children’s book?
That’s a million dollar question! I do feel though that children’s TV shows are slightly more driven by having a great character and building narratives around them. Whereas children’s books are slightly more narrative driven. This is likely due to TV shows being a series of stories whereas books are usually one great story which you’re taking on.
4. What are current popular topics or themes in children’s tv and films?
Soft learning has always been at the heart of children’s television. This has evolved over the years from a more teacher-led approach to a holistic approach where characters are more relatable for children to empathise with and see themselves in. Neurodiversity is an important theme also, as we live in a world where we accept each other’s needs and issues. Having programming that is relatable to these areas is much needed to help children see it’s okay to feel how they do. Likewise hearing regional voices in our programmes and having diverse characters which match the many nationalities and cultures in modern Britain today.
5. What are some good recent animations adapted from books?
At the upper end of the sector, I think Netflix’s recent adaptation of The Sandman is fantastic, although I know this is a comic rather than a book as such. I also loved the recent adaptation of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse. Incredibly cinematic.
6. Tell us about your recent experience at Industry Exhibitions.
This was CWLA’s first time at the market and it didn’t disappoint. It was a great few days meeting leading broadcasters and producers to introduce our slate of titles to them and discuss getting projects off the ground. During the two day event, I met with all major broadcasters including Netflix, BBC, etc.; all were impressed with the variety of IP and work of the authors we represent. The goal is to get our content optioned, commissioned, and on our screens. So watch this space.
7. What topics or themes can we expect to see in children’s media in 2023?
Post-pandemic I feel there is an influx of upbeat content, particularly in the young adult sector, for example, Heartstoppers. Another post-pandemic trend was for humorous content.
In the pre-school and early years sector, clients like regional accents and content with a character list that mirrors our multicultural landscape today. Content where viewers can empathise and feel a similarity to the characters is very on trend but this has always been the case.
For a programme to really work in today’s market, it has to have a real hook, be it the theme, the location of multiple characters, a single character instantly recognisable to the viewer, or something that educates the viewer. These elements and traits are what commissioners and producers are asking me for in our titles.