The Professionals Update 2Sep2013
Looking back over our history we’ve always been a bit of a nuisance to the licensors when we’ve reached agreement to acquire a film or tv show. A signature, a cheque and delivery of a bunch of tapes is an usual and reasonable expectation of any of the companies we’ve dealt with, certainly in the early days of the label. But the point of delivery was invariably a common point of let down for us, our naively believing we would actually get what we asked for and then getting into a bit of a tussle when we didn’t. We’ve even terminated agreements on the basis of not being allowed to present in a way we know anyone tempted enough to even pick up the box would expect. It isn’t all about the return.
It wasn’t always the case. Our very first release ‘The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’ had us driving to Paris, initially to sign the agreement with our very accommodating French licensor and a follow up to research and collect the materials, in this case a set of thirteen 16mm prints with English soundtrack (the only prints known to exist) and boxes of images and documents, all residing in a dusty archive in an unpleasant part of the city on the other side of the Périphérique. A dirty and long day that was. Worthwhile, though – one of our signature dishes, it’s still with us sixteen years later and continues to tick over.
Lessons learned, experience gained, it didn’t take us long to draft a policy and now we always insist on unrestricted access to any elements associated with the show we’re putting out as part of any agreement. And because we have a track record, a very good track record if we say so ourselves, pretty well everyone we deal with is happy to go along with that, quickly recognising the benefits for all concerned.
So, what does all this have to do with ‘The Professionals’? Well, it demonstrates the lengths we’re prepared to go to to offer something truly definitive and markedly different from anything that has gone before once those doors have been unlocked. We’ll update you on the restoration progress in the coming weeks and months (it is going incredibly well) but we thought we’d share the enormity of the task ahead of us on the paper front first following the dumping of fifteen boxes of material into the managing director’s office. Messy as it looks it tells the whole history of the series, if only one can decode it all. Thankfully writer and TV historian Andrew Pixley is our digit scientist of choice and he’s preparing that definitive history in palatable chunks, as only he can.
Aside of paperwork there are some early U-matics and other obsolete master video recordings, all superseded by at least two format improvements in the intervening years. More useful is the stills library; thousands of images, most of them never previously seen. More late night sessions there but we can at least guarantee a few gasps when they are finally published.
So reviewing our very first release against one of our very latest, very little has changed in terms of objectives or processes. The technology has certainly improved to help us and there is more to review with ‘The Professionals’ because of the larger number of episodes but the striking difference is that we didn’t have to drive to Paris to get what we wanted. These days we have it all delivered.