Animal Planet announced the acquisition of worldwide television rights to Participant and Terra Mater Factual Studios’ documentary film WATSON, which chronicles Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson, who has spent his life sailing the globe to keep our oceans and their inhabitants safe. WATSON had its World Premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, where it was runner-up for the Documentary Audience Award. Additional screenings this year will include Zurich Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival and Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, among others. WATSON premieres on Animal Planet later this year. The film will open in select U.S. theaters this fall.
Captain Watson and his crews have confronted whaling vessels from Europe to the Southern Ocean, seal hunters in Canada, and shark finners in Central America. WATSON blends revealing contemporary interviews with Captain Watson, archival clips of Sea Shepherd’s dramatic encounters, and spectacular underwater nature footage, as award-winning documentarian Lesley Chilcott (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for “Superman”) paints a fascinating portrait of a man willing to put his own life at risk in a relentless quest to protect the oceans and the marine life within.
Animal Planet is home to the popular Primetime Emmy Award® nominated series, Whale Wars (2008-2015), which followed Captain Watson and members of his Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, available to U.S. audiences via the Animal Planet GO app. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognized Whale Wars in 2009 for exploring issues of concern to our society in a compelling, emotional and insightful way by bestowing the series with a Television Academy Honor, which identifies it as “television with a conscience.”
Captain Watson commented: “I am incredibly proud of this wonderful film by Lesley Chilcott, and I hope that it inspires people to be passionate about caring for and fighting to save our home — the planet Ocean.”
Chilcott added: “WATSON begins and ends with the heroic and fierce commitment of Captain Paul Watson, a man who I have long admired and whose deeds to better the Earth affect us all. I am excited to partner with Animal Planet, which given their connection to Paul and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is the very best home for this film in helping educate and inspire audiences to join them in the fight to save our oceans.”
“Animal Planet has partnered with Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd for many years to shine a light on their incredibly important work on behalf of our oceans. We are therefore all the more delighted to share this beautifully made film chronicling his remarkable, courageous life with our global audiences,” said Susanna Dinnage, Global President of Animal Planet.
“WATSON is a captivating experience from Lesley Chilcott, an incredibly committed filmmaker and environmentalist,” said Diane Weyermann, Chief Content Officer for Participant. “The film delivers a unique look at the larger-than-life character of Captain Paul Watson, whose life and mission gives new dimensions to what it means to be an activist.”
“Terra Mater Factual Studios’ mission is to produce films that drive change frame-by-frame,” said Walter Köhler, CEO and Founder of Terra Mater Factual Studios. “Previous films, The Ivory Game, shortlisted for the Oscars, and Sundance Audience Award winner, Sea of Shadows, have shown our commitment to highlight current environmental crimes and to inspire people to take care of our planet. We are very delighted to have partnered with Participant to produce this engaging biopic of Paul Watson and to show to the world not only the activist, but the poet and philosopher Paul Watson, who has a message for the world that needs spreading wide and far.”
The deal was negotiated by Josh Braun of Submarine on behalf of Participant and Terra Mater Factual Studios, as well as Danice Woodley, SVP of Business and Legal Affairs for Participant, and Krista Wegener, Participant’s EVP of Sales and Distribution.
WATSON is an Animal Planet, Participant Media and Terra Mater Factual Studios presentation of an Invented by Girls Production. The film is directed by Lesley Chilcott, produced by Louise Runge, Lesley Chilcott, Wolfgang Knöpfler, with Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Elise Pearlstein, Walter Köhler and Dinah Czezik-Müller serving as executive producers. Cinematographer is Logan Schneider and composer is Christophe Beck. For Animal Planet, the production is overseen by Erin Wanner, Senior Vice President, Production.
Founded by Chairman Jeff Skoll and under the leadership of CEO David Linde, Participant (www.participantmedia.com)combines the power of a good story well told with real world impact and awareness around today’s most vital issues. Through its worldwide network of traditional and digital distribution, aligned with partnerships with key non-profit and NGO organizations, Participant speaks directly to the rise of today’s “conscious consumer,” representing the well over 2 billion consumers compelled to make meaningful content a priority focus.
As an industry content leader, Participant annually produces up to six narrative feature films, five documentary films, three episodic television series, and more than 30 hours of digital short form programming, through its digital subsidiary SoulPancake. Participant’s more than 100 films have collectively earned 73 Academy Award® nominations and 18 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Green Book and Best Foreign Language Film for Roma and A Fantastic Woman. Participant’s digital division, SoulPancake (www.soulpancake.com), is an award-winning provider of thought-provoking, joyful, and uplifting content and reaches an audience of over 9 million fans. Follow Participant Media on Twitter (@Participant) and on Facebook and Instagram. Follow SoulPancake on Twitter (@soulpancake) and on Facebook and Instagram.
About Terra Mater Factual Studios
Terra Mater Factual Studios specialize in premium factual programming for TV, multimedia platforms and theatrical release with a commitment to the highest production values regarding visual excellence, innovative technology and amazing storytelling. Core genres are nature, science and history presented in blue-chip primetime series and specials. The production company also brings together a wide array of genres and styles to create exciting new factual and entertainment formats. For the big screen, TMFS produce stories that are highly relevant and strongly rooted in reality: from the classical feature doc to wild drama, where nature plays the main role, further on to fiction films, where real stories are the matrix for our scripts. TMFS runs their own YouTube and Instagram channel with engaging videos about the beauty and value of nature equally as about environmental and conservation topics with the mission to inspire people to take care of our planet – because #terramatters.
TMFS’ diverse portfolio contains more than 200 hours, honored with almost 250 international film festival awards. In 2017, its feature doc ‘The Ivory Game’ was on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Shortlist for the Oscars. TMFS’ latest coup was the prestigious Audience Award at Sundance Festival 2019 for its fresh feature doc ‘Sea of Shadows’.
For more information, please visit www.terramater.at and look out for #terramatters across social platforms.
About Animal Planet
Animal Planet, one of Discovery, Inc.’s great global brands, is dedicated to creating high quality content with global appeal delivering on its mission to keep the childhood joy and wonder of animals alive by bringing people up close in every way. Available to 360 million homes in more than 205 countries and territories, Animal Planet combines content that explores the undeniable bonds forged between animals and humans, optimized across all screens around the world. In the U.S., Animal Planet audiences can enjoy their favorite programming anytime, anywhere through the Animal Planet GO app which features live and on-demand access. For more information, please visit www.animalplanet.com.
Discovery, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is a global leader in real life entertainment, serving a passionate audience of superfans around the world with content that inspires, informs and entertains. Discovery delivers over 8,000 hours of original programming each year and has category leadership across deeply loved content genres around the world. Available in 220 countries and territories and nearly 50 languages, Discovery is a platform innovator, reaching viewers on all screens, including TV Everywhere products such as the GO portfolio of apps and Discovery Kids Play; direct-to-consumer streaming services such as Eurosport Player and Motor Trend OnDemand; digital-first and social content from Group Nine Media and a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour to create the Global Home of Golf. Discovery’s portfolio of premium brands includes Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, Motor Trend, Animal Planet, and Science Channel, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports and Home of the Olympic Games across Europe. For more information, please visit https://corporate.discovery.com/ and follow @DiscoveryIncTV across social platforms.