Unique: It’s a big week for husband-and-wife production duo Luke Hyams and Sunita Mirchandani Hyams.
Not only his first documentary, The Sidemen Storylaunches tomorrow (February 14) on Netflix in the UK, but this interview with Deadline is the first he’s given since the launch of his indie cross-cultural producer Pangea.
In a wide-ranging conversation that punctuates a break in Jamaica – what they call “their first vacation in quite a few years” – they talk about the hard work hours it took to shoot and produce a doc on British YouTube stars The Sidemen. Let’s talk about the state of the UK production sector and a slate that includes work in ProgressA talk show in which UK TV host, broadcaster and creative Julie Adenuga quizzes prominent public figures.
Hyams is the former head of originals for YouTube EMEA, director of global content for The Walt Disney Company, and creator of the influential UK musical drama. dubplate dramaWhile Mirchandani Hyams is an experienced producer Oscar Pistorius: What really happened?, the only way Is Essex And great british menu For major British production companies. In 2020, he co-produced his first feature, big boys don’t cryAnd that same year she decided to create Pangea after encouragement from her husband to act on the ideas she had been thinking about while working as a production manager for years.
This came just as COVID-19 started, but Mirchandani Hayams jumped into the development of several projects and hasn’t looked back, and soon Hayams was eager to get involved. “I’d be on a call with 200 YouTube people explaining to America who Stormzy was, and I’d hear Sunita in the next room having a blast,” says Hyams.
When YouTube EMEA decided to downsize its core business, the couple decided to work together on a full-time professional basis, 18 years after first meeting on the set of Channel 4. dubplate drama, which followed the plight of a female grime MC over three seasons. Hyams says, “The idea of two people working together with a little help instead of working in a huge corporation was a positive creative big change for me at the time.”
He adds, “Sunita is the best producer I’ve ever worked with, and we worked together for a long time before the romance came”, while Mirchandani Hyams laughs: “She’d have to say that!”
Pangea also had a deeper point. Mirchandani Hyams, who has Nigerian and Indian heritage, noted that the Black Lives Matter campaign was heating up as she began working on early projects, including a Channel 4 short. “As parents of multicultural children, we started asking ourselves, if we continue to create the same content, how will that change?” Hyams learned from YouTube that new audiences are rarely defined by boundaries, and it was “passion and community” that really drive content.
‘Doing this together is the right thing to do’
Pangea is expanding and heading into a difficult time for the UK. This weekend, Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon predicted that many indie creators would go out of business as streamers hit the perfect storm of recession, collapsed TV advertising revenues and a cost-of-living crisis on Britain’s shores. continues continuously. The shared life and personal connection with children has been important.
“Doing this together — starting a start-up when we’re in the ups and downs of TV, and seeing how hard you have to work right now to get anything going — it’s the right thing to do,” Hyams. They say. According to Mirchandani Hyams, his company is primarily individually funded, but this may change in the future. Until this official launch point, it is all about identifying like-minded partners on individual projects and strategies.
“So many people are unemployed and it’s a really challenging time, and it’s quite difficult if you don’t have support,” says Mirchandani Hyams. “Fortunately, we have some great partners,” she adds, referencing a young-adult film development deal Pangea has with Altitude Filmed Entertainment.
Hyams says, “They’re a fantastic partner that really aligns with what we think is our USP: bringing out new talent and stories that feel like they’re crossing the boundary between the old platforms and the new platforms.” Can be bridged.”
This is the idea behind it The Sidemen Story, the first documentary of Pangea. The film charts the rise of the British YouTube group featuring web personalities Olajide ‘JJ’ Olatunji (KSI), Simon Minter (MiniMinter), Joshua Bradley (Zerka), Tobit ‘Toby’ Brown (TBJZL), Ethan Payne (Behzinga), VicStar123. Are included. , and Harry Lewis (W2S) – who has amassed over 100 million subscribers across various platforms, including nearly 21 million on his main YouTube channel. He has faced controversies, such as when KSI used a racial slur in a video and was forced to apologize, but he also built an operation that went from YouTube videos to a physical location in the UK. Everything was spread from shops to clothing business.
Disclaimer here: I make a brief appearance in the document as a discussion leader, providing some context about the rise of the YouTuber economy and how it has impacted traditional media in the UK, US, and around the world. (The rock ‘n’ roll part, I’m sure you’ll agree.)
The Pangea pair say industry watchers could do worse than consider how KSI, who has been at the forefront of the online boxing craze and has become a popular rapper, and his friends have built their media empire. Make. “People don’t realize how much work goes into it,” says Mirchandani Hyams.
Early in their career, The Sidemen moved into a house together which they called The Factory. Each bedroom was also the individual sideman’s private studio for his audience, while the kitchen became the central hub where videos for the main channel were broadcast according to a schedule. The penalty for missing a record resulted in the sideman having to provide another video – creating even more content and loops which meant that failure created success.
“That was the biggest learning for me between him and other YouTubers: They have a democratic process at their heart,” says Hyams. “KSI may be the most popular, but the group’s decisions are based on a seven-person vote. They take decisions and move forward.”
Netflix’s Nilesh Dhand and Samantha Blanco have moved on to acquire the doc for the UK (we understand it could be followed by a wider international deal), and Pangea bosses say launching it on Valentine’s Day will be “in keeping with the film.” a sign of their confidence”, with Hyams quipping, “They’re the home of Netflix and chill.”
Pangea, named after the giant supercontinent that once united Earth’s entire landmass, is now testing several digital formats. is at the top of the pile Work is in progressWhat Hyams calls a “deconstructed chat show” featuring co-hosts of the MTV series catfish uk And broadcaster Julie Adenuga interviews the great cultural figures of our time to learn about their travels and what inspires them.
“We are going to release episodes throughout the year. “Julie has been very helpful with her contact book,” says Hyams. Mirchandani “We have some really big hitters,” says Hyams.
There is also a documentary looking at Class in the UK through the lens of pop music, an area the duo know well. An unnamed partner is attached and the project is in post-production. “It’s an interesting opportunity to look at a story we think we know,” says Hyams.
More music-based projects are planned. “Music was always a great way to tell puritanical, self-made ambition stories,” says Hyams. “As we saw dubplate drama, before they had digital technology, young people could pick up a mic and a turntable and express themselves and put themselves on the map. We have great contacts in the music business and have revisited a lot of the stories we know. There are so many great music stories in the UK.”
On the international front, Mirchandani Hayams has written her first screenplay on a feature film that will cross the UK and Nigerian borders. Another major company is involved in the development. “The beautiful thing about our partnership is that we have a lot of ideas and Luke really inspired me to get those ideas down on paper, so I did that, wrote the treatment and pitched it to a brilliant woman in the industry. Presented, a really supportive person, who said, ‘Let’s go,’” she says.
“Since Sunita was born in Nigeria, it was important for her to pass on her experiences,” says Hyams. “The details of that story allowed Sunita to open up and build relationships and partnerships with other emerging writers from that part of the world. It was an idea that kept her up at night, and I knew it needed to be put down on paper, even if it was just for her.
There is a clear spontaneity and understanding between Pangea’s founders, and their natural sensibilities give them a strong platform to work from: Hyams is a career creative and Mirchandani-Hyamms is an experienced production manager. When asked what the next 12 months might look like, Hyams says, “We don’t know where we’ll be in 12 hours,” while Mirchandani Hyams hopes to launch a second film, with two scripted projects in production. And the final draft of the third will be ready. Project finished. “I like to keep the ship safe here, so we will definitely keep moving forward. There will definitely be more to see soon.”
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