By Thompson, Craig
History Today , Vol. 56, No. 10
IF YOU WERE TO STEP BACK IN TIME JUST TEN YEARS and suggest that history programming would soon become one of the most popular genres on television, even the experts might not agree.
What was once considered 'niche' programming has now become so mainstream that television broadcasters around the world now devote all or part of their schedules to content with historical themes. Whether it's military, social, cultural or biographical history; whether it's presented in a documentary, dramatic or 'reality' formats, history content has become a global industry.
From November 16th-19th, the leaders of this industry will be gathering in London for the sixth annual World Congress of History Producers, an international forum for creators, producers, broadcasters, distributors and academics--people who share a passion and a business for telling the stories of history on television.
Attracting over 350 delegates from twenty countries, the Congress addresses the growing importance of history programming and facilitates the face-to-face networking required to develop the ideas and create the international partnerships needed to finance a production and bring it to life.
Nowhere is history more popular a topic of discussion and debate than in the United Kingdom and the History Congress will reflect this interest in its opening session, 'The Great Debate', in which academics, broadcasters and producers will debate the role and success of the media in popularizing history. The session will be moderated by Peter and Dan Snow and is produced in association with History Today.
The Congress also features a variety of master-classes and workshops as well as sessions on such topics as making documentaries in danger zones such as Iraq, documenting oral history, the use of digital effects and producing historical content for online and mobile distribution. There will also be a workshop at which the films shordisted for the History Today/ Grierson Trust Historical Documentary of the Year will be profiled.
The World Congress of History Producers is an important event for the industry because the trends discussed and ideas shared influence the kind of television and film viewers will be watching in the months and years ahead. For the world at large, the programme ideas born at the Congress go on to influence and shape society's perspective on history.
'The visual media have a tremendous impact on how people see the world, past, present and future and those who produce historical content face a certain level of responsibility to viewers,' says Professor Brendan Mullan, Associate Dean of the College of Social Science at Michigan State University. …