084 – Francis Tapon (The Unseen Africa Documentary Pilot)

Author, Harvard MBA grad and world-renowned backpacker Francis Tapon is on a 4-year journey to all 54 African countries. How can he turn this into a 4-season TV series? By going a non-traditional route, of course!

The TV landscape continues to divide into thousands of channels, and it seems there’s a new online distribution player every month. More channels means less advertising per channel, and budgets are shrinking. Higher budget shows may be in trouble, but there’s a veritable gold rush for independent producers who can produce great content more cheaply. The challenge is that the funding models are different, and very few have a handle on the best strategy to stay ahead of this rapidly changing field.

Francis Tapon, a successful author and world traveler, has a promising idea for an episodic documentary series. But like Corinna Mendis, who shot her own scripted pilot, Francis has decided to forego the traditional pitch process and produce a full pilot himself, assisted by a Kickstarter campaign for part of the budget.

Will he be successful? Is this a viable path to getting your own reality or documentary series off the ground? Find out on this week’s podcast!

A little more about Francis:

Francis is a world-renowned author and world traveler, author of The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us and Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America.

He walked across America four times: he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which “features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors.”

Though he speaks several languages due to his South American and French ancestry, Francis hails from San Francisco.

More info on The Unseen Africa Kickstarter campaign: CLICK HERE

Follow Francis on Twitter: @ftapon

Francis’s blog and website: francistapon.com

The Unseen Africa website: theunseenafrica.com

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Hosted by Gray Jones, the TV Writer Podcast is devoted to interviews with working TV writers. It is brought to you by Script magazine and Scriptmag.com, the leading source for scriptwriting information in print and on the web.