‘The production is very rich in entertainment, as well as having a powerful message’

Distributor Orange Smarty
Producer colourFIELD
Length 3 x 52 minutes
Broadcasters ZDF and ARTE (Germany

A visually stunning documentary series from German producer colourFIELD, three-part The Arctic, 66.5 Degrees North aims to provide an unprecedented insight into the remote but important region.

“There is a spectacular natural history dimension, with footage of locations that have never been seen before,” says Orange Smarty chief exec Karen Young.

“But there’s much more to it than that. Across the themed episodes, The Arctic explores the impact that climate change is having on this region in terms of travel, mining, trade, scientific exploration, wildlife and local people’s livelihoods.”

One section is dedicated to a community’s access to the nearest hospital, which has been adversely affected by rapid ice melt, while another explores how watching climate change in real time has become a kind of tourist attraction.

Filmed at locations in Svalbard, Greenland, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, the show was commissioned by broadcasters ZDF and Arte. Orange Smarty boarded as distributor after those deals were in place: “We have a long-standing relationship with colourFIELD, most recently on travelogue Russia From Above,” Young adds.

“I think they like the fact that we are accessible, nimble and put a lot of emphasis on marketing their projects. They know this show will be a priority for us when we take it to Mipcom.”

She says the production quality of colourFIELD’s work is already well-known among buyers, while the subject is one of “great concern to all demographics”.

“It is one of those Zeitgeist topics that is rarely out of the news,” she says. “But the production is also very rich in entertainment, as well as having the powerful message audiences are responsive to and that might drive them to take action.”

There is, says Young, a strong scientific spine that will appeal to some specialist factual buyers. Contributors include climate researcher Dustin Whalen, who has recorded the drastic melting of permafrost over many years. There’s also marine biologist Sofia Ribeiro, who investigates the consequences of ice loss on marine life off the north-west coast of Greenland. 

“There are many international stakeholders interested in the fate of the Arctic. The production has contributors from a range of different parts of the world”

For natural history fans, part of the production follows polar bear Misha, which has been fitted with a GPS tracker to monitor her extensive journeys in search of food.

Young says the Arctic is a universally intriguing territory. “There are many international stakeholders interested in the fate of the Arctic. The production has contributors from a range of different parts of the world.”

The series is narrated in English, with most contributors also speaking in the language. In addition to the three-part version being distributed by Orange Smarty, there is a 90-minute version being licensed by the producer itself, with John Malkovich as the narrator.

Young says the title should be complete by Mipcom – with the global premiere due in January 2024. Her sales plan is to try to get first-window deals with panregional platforms – either streamers or broadcasters. “After that, the aim would be to do second-window deals with local broadcasters. We really believe it can work on any major platform.”