Spotlight on Northern Pictures

Meet the team behind Love on the Spectrum, See What You Made Me Do, Reef Live, Hardball, Spreadsheet and more.

TV Tonight resumes its Spotlight series showcasing some of the many production companies behind our favourite shows.

Profiled today is Northern Pictures, the company behind Love on the Spectrum and factual titles including See What You Made Me Do and Reef Live as well as scripted series Hardball and Spreadsheet.

Production company name?
Northern Pictures

When was the company founded?

Where are you based and which states did you film in for 2023 productions?
The company is based in Redfern, Sydney. In 2023 we filmed in NSW, Queensland, WA, Victoria and ACT. Last year, we also filmed throughout the United States, the UK and Antarctica.

How many full-time equivalent staff and how many does it expand to during production?
We have 18 full time staff. This expands quite quickly based upon the size of any given production. A scripted series such as Austin involves over 100 Crew, 60 Cast. An unscripted series such as Reef Live was over 80. But our documentary series are managed by small teams of 10-12 key staff.

What is your ownership model and who are key principals?
The company is 100% independent and is owned by CEO David Haslingden Managing Director of the RACAT Group (previously Chair and Non-Executive Director of Channel 9 and ex-CEO of National Geographic Channels), with Peter Anderson as Managing Director (ex-Director of Finance and Operations, Endemol Australia). Karina Holden is Head of Factual and Catherine Nebauer is Head of Scripted & Kids.

Describe the genres you specialise in for production?
We are focused on Factual, Premium Scripted and Children’s programming. We are known for producing original programming with a distinctive style, tone and heart.

What have been some of your notable credits and with which broadcasters / streamers?
Recognised by the Screen Producers Association of Australia as Production Company of the Year (2022) Northern Pictures was awarded a prestigious Human Rights Award in 2023 for Media and Creative Industries by the Australian Human Rights Commission. It was an acknowledgement of our commitment to telling important and inclusive stories for over a decade.

We are probably best known for Love on the Spectrum (Netflix, ABC) winner of 4 Emmy Awards. We produce in both Australia and US as the format originators. Our format Better Date than Never is launching its second season on ABC in February and is being optioned by overseas territories. We also produce doc series such as See What You Made Me Do (SBS), Asking for It (SBS), Employable Me (ABC) and Factual Entertainment series like Luke Warm Sex (ABC). Northern Pictures is also internationally renounced for natural history, having made blue chip series Magical Land of Oz (BBC, ABC, PBS), After the Fires (CBC, ABC), A Wild Year on Earth (BBC America).

On the scripted side our credits include the Emmy and multi-award-winning Hardball (ABC, ACTF), award winning Spreadsheet (Paramount+, ITV Studios) and Austin (ABC and ITV Studios) which is currently shooting in the UK.

What’s coming up on your slate and how many projects are in active development?

The first quarter of 2024, season 2 of Love on the Spectrum US has just launched on Netflix and season 2 of Better Date than Never launches on ABC (February 20). We are soon to announce a premium series for SBS which is now in production, and are about to start pre-production on our first scripted cinema releasing film, which will deliver in 2025. We have four different series across factual, drama and kids scripted now in funded development with broadcasters, here and overseas.

Do you receive unsolicited material, what are you looking for, how should people pitch projects?
Our factual team works to develop shows internally, so we do not accept unsolicited material. Our scripted team works with a number of creative partnerships fostered across the industry.  Currently we have quite a deep slate so are not actively looking.

What change would you most like to see when it comes to commissions?
It would be encouraging to see commissioners taking more risks with original formats. The need to import ideas from overseas is disappointing when there are so many great creatives who can knock it out of the park when given a decent brief. Allowing as much flexibility in the way things are financed is increasingly important, especially when we see so much movement internationally on rights sharing and windowing.  In addition, the Children’s sector is dire with only the ABC commissioning projects – we desperately need to see these quotas reinstated with requirements for the SVOD platforms to also commission local children’s content.

Leave a Reply