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David Hague Interviews Anita Jacoby
Australia has a number of successful TV and film production companies but possibly none have had the strike rate and popularity of Zapruder's Other Films.
What? And a funny name too?
The name firstly; Zapruder was a real live person who has a unique place in history in that the famous footage of President John F Kennedy getting shot was filmed by him. So now we know 'who', the 'what' is the production company run by Anita Jacoby and Andrew Denton, responsible for such TV shows as Enough Rope, The Gruen Transfer and currently airing on ABC1 on Wednesday nights, Randling.
Other shows they have created that may surprise you include David Tench Tonight, Joy of Sets, AFP, Country Town Rescue and Elders.
I had the great fortune to have an interview with Anita Jacoby and was greatly interested to find out how Zapruder ticks and its philosophies.
I learned Zapruder has only produced original ideas; it has never bought a format from overseas, instead choosing to work from the ground up "lovingly building a show" as Ms Jacoby describes the process. As you can imagine, this can be a lengthy process, with The Gruen Transfer, hosted by comedian Wil Anderson for example, taking over two years before a single frame was put to air. Indeed, the original concept of making a documentary was changed during the development process to end up being the weekly panel show we are all now familiar with. Even now though, during the actual airing process, tweaks are made to segments inside the show - How Do You See and The Pitch in Gruen for example.
Likewise, choosing the regular "talent", Russel Howcroft and Todd Sampson took months of testing people.
Ms Jacoby says they usually know if an idea will fly, but admit that before its actually before an audience, you can't be too confident!
I was intrigued about the titles to the shows. Whilst such phrases and terms as Randling and Gruen are real words, it is fair to say that until Zapruder brought them to our attention, the majority would never have heard them, let alone know what they mean!
(Gruen was the inventor of the modern shopping "mall" and to randle something is to try and influence a turn of events in your favour, usually not very subtlety, or to try and gain something that would most likely never have been yours).
Ms Jacoby tells me that they have always tried to select titles that provoke interest and says that often, when people see a word they don't know in their TV guide, they are piqued enough to go and find its meaning. She said that "Enough Rope" caused some initial angst as it was feared invited guests might baulk on appearing on a show that on the surface was potentially asking them to "hang themselves"
As history shows though, this was never the case - except for the odd conman!
The core team of Zapruder is six full time production people, with others being contracted as needed on a show-by-show basis. Currently Zapruder is in the process of merging with another company, Cordell-Jigsaw, with the main aim being to gain access to overseas markets with Cordell-Jigsaw having the resources to take the formats and shows to foreign climes. Whilst many shows have already been sold overseas, with the merger this can now be expanded and can only bode well for Australian TV production and by definition of course, then local talent as well.
Anita Jacoby concluded by saying as well as always looking out for new people - not necessarily known on-camera personalities - they are also always looking for new opportunities in the form of creative and innovation. "Our door is always open," she says.
David Hague comes from a photographic family with both his father and older brother having been professional photographers. David's experiences include writing and directing the suite of training videotapes for Microsoft for Office and Windows, training tapes for Filemaker Pro and Autocad Lite and numerous TV commercials, documentaries and corporate videos. He was for 3 years the Managing Editor of Australian Video Camera Publications and is now publishing and editing AusCam magazine and PC Update. He has a bent for fishing and motor sport and is an unashamed Aussie who makes a killer Home Brew. David lives in the south west of Western Australia among the dolphins and pelicans of Mandurah, 45 minutes south of the capital, Perth.
Related Keywords:Television production, Anita Jacoby, Andrew Denton