24/06/2010

NI Firm Wins Religious TV Slot

A new religious spot has been commissioned from a top Northern Ireland production company by Channel 4 - and won't shy away from controversial topics - such as the Orange Marching Season and the London 7/11 terror attacks.

The series, 4thought.tv, will be a series of short films, in which a single speaker, filmed in a studio, will reflect on religious and ethical issues or aspects of their spiritual lives.

Viewers will be confronted by big ideas and unconventional ways of addressing issues – from jokes and songs to recounting moving personal experiences.

These shorts will challenge some traditional views, providing a platform for both scepticism and devout religious beliefs.

The films, made by Co Down's Waddell Media, will air after Channel 4 News every day, seven nights a week.

The strand will also have a strong online presence on the 4thought.tv website, overseen by Cross Platform Commissioning Editor Adam Gee.

Every film will be made available to view on this site (as well as on 4OD), as well as providing additional bonus video content. Over time, the strand and website will build up a resource of thinking and reflection on faith, in all its aspects, in modern Britain.

The range of individuals appearing in the films will be as diverse as the views expressed - from the leaders of world religions and influential figures in the public eye to members of the public who will have the opportunity to speak candidly about their faith and beliefs and provide first-person testimony about their experiences.

Many of the 4thought.tv films will air in thematically-linked mini seasons - marking important religious events or providing swift reaction to issues in the news – providing an eclectic range of opinions on a single topic.
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While future themed weeks for the strand will include the Marching Season in Northern Ireland, religious jokes in the week of the Edinburgh Festival, the state visit of the Pope in September, and a series of films about Amazing Grace, one of the most cherished religious hymns of all time, it will launch on 5th July with the first week of films reflecting on the fifth anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist attack on London.

The films will include the views of: George Rhoden, a Metropolitan Police Officer and devout Christian who was involved in the aftermath; Esther Hyman, whose sister was killed on the Number 30 bus; Gill Hicks - a survivor who lost both her legs in the Edgware Rd blast; Raj Babbra - a former Sikh, whose best friend was killed in the Aldgate explosion; Farrah Jarral - a Muslim surgeon who amputated the leg of one of the survivors and Ajmal Masroor - a London imam who had to deal with the effect on the Muslim community.

Together, these films will provide a spectrum of reflection on the impact on the faith of these individuals – all of whom were profoundly affected by those events.

The strand will air reflections from diverse perspectives and faiths including Wicca, one of Britain’s fastest growing religions and minority faiths such as Bahá’í and Zoroastrianism.

Each film will be shot using the same format – a simple white background without complicated cutaways or unnecessary actuality.

Executive Producer Narinder Minhas said: "It is rare in television to focus on a single face for a protracted period of time, and this makes the films particularly visually arresting. The interviewees address the camera directly, and their faces are shot in close up, as if they are speaking to the viewer directly."

Co-funding is provided by Northern Ireland Screen supported by Invest NI and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Richard Williams, Northern Ireland Screen's boss, stated: "Northern Ireland Screen has a policy of supporting the best companies in Northern Ireland working across film, television and digital media. Building on the success of previous co-productions with Channel 4, we are pleased to announce that we are co-funding Waddell Media's 4Thought commission.

"It is a welcome boost for a production sector that has been buoyed by a number of recent successes, such as the location of a major HBO drama in Belfast and seven BAFTA Craft and BAFTA TV awards."

(BMcC/GK)

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