John Murray from Crossing the Line on inspiring stories, Emmy nominations and MEDIA funding.
Crossing the Line produces powerful documentaries on wildlife, science and history. We talk to producer John Murray about inspirational stories, Emmy nominations and how MEDIA funding helped them produce films to the highest international standards.
Crossing the Line, one of Ireland's leading documentary film-makers, produces powerful documentaries on subjects as diverse as wildlife, science and history. Their work has been broadcast worldwide and screened at numerous festivals. The company has garnered multiple awards including an Emmy in 2018 for their feature documentary, The Farthest, about the iconic Voyager mission. Made for PBS, BBC, RTÉ & ZDF, the film had a theatrical release in the USA, Ireland and the UK before being broadcast worldwide.
CTL won the coveted Grierson Award (2017) for Best Natural History Documentary in the UK for ‘Wild Ireland – The Edge of the World’ made for the BBC & TG4, beating the BBC’s Planet Earth 2 and a host of the finest wildlife films of the year. They’ve also won multiple ‘Oscars’ in terms of wildlife film awards including Best of Festival an unprecedented three times in a row at the Jackson Hole USA and Wildscreen UK festivals. They received nine Emmy nominations in total for their recent films – four for The Farthest, two for Ireland’s Wild Coast; and three for Broken Tail, the story of India’s last tigers.
In October, 2018, Emer Reynold’s documentary on the iconic Voyager space mission, The Farthest, won the Emmy for Outstanding Science and Technology Documentary at the 39th International News and Documentary Emmys in New York.
CROSSING THE LINE PRODUCTIONS MEDIA FUNDING AWARDS
Slate Funding Awards
- 2002 Documentary
- 2009 Documentary
- 2014 Documentary €139,637
- 2016 Documentary €123,232
Produced documentaries from Slate Development: Craiceann Geal, Croí Marbh (White Man, Dead Heart); The Farthest; Three Men go to War/Here Was Cuba; and Cuba’s Wild Revolution.
TV Production Awards
- 2002 The Strange Case of the Irish Crown Jewels
- 2003 Franklin's Lost Expedition (2005)
- 2009 Broken Tail’s Last Journey
- 2013 Wild Ireland –the Edge of the World
- 2016 Cuba’s Wild Revolution (In post-production)
- 2018 Big Bend America’s Wild Frontier (In production)
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN MURRAY, CROSSING THE LINE FILMS
1. Your subjects are so varied! How do you find your ideas and inspiration?
For us story is at the heart of everything. Whether it’s natural history or science or human interest we’re always looking for a powerful narrative that’s going to draw people in. When it comes to wildlife filmmaking we’re always interested in topics that can open up people’s eyes to the amazing natural world around them and hopefully inspire people to protect it at this critical time where we are literally exterminating the wild creatures that share the planet with us.
2. Congratulations on all your prestigious nominations and awards in recent years! The Farthest and Ireland’s Wild Coast did especially well. How important are awards?
It’s always nice to be recognised for your work – and especially so when the talents of our hardworking crew in cinematography and editing are specifically celebrated - but I don’t think we ever set out to win awards. You just set out to make the best film you possibly can. That said it’s always helpful when pitching for new projects or making funding applications to be able to refer to accolades people might be familiar with.
3. How has MEDIA funding helped Crossing the Line grow as a company?
I think like a lot of production companies in Ireland we’re big in our ambitions but quite small in terms of our actual structure. MEDIA funding has allowed us to develop ideas and produce films to the highest international standards. It has really helped elevate the quality of our work which has in turn spurred us on to even bigger and better projects. Slate development funding in particular is an amazing resource for a company like ours – development is essential to the survival and growth of any film company but financing that can be really difficult. Slate funding helps keep the company as a whole moving forward.
4. CTL were the first Irish documentary company to move into HD. How does new technology enhance your work?
Working a lot in natural history, you’re constantly looking into the newest technologies that are going to allow you capture some never before seen animal behaviour. We’re the first, and so far, only company in Ireland to own a Phantom Flex 4K which allows us to shoot stunning slow motion footage. You always want to future proof your work wherever you possibly can so we shoot pretty much everything nowadays in 4K or greater where we can.
5. You are MEDIA funding experts! What advice can you offer to applicants?
I don’t know about experts but we have been very fortunate over the years with the funding we’ve gotten from MEDIA. I think the main advice is not to be daunted by the application itself. Break it down into sections and take it piece by piece. And remember you need to sell yourself and your idea so don’t be shy about listing your accomplishments and explaining what makes your project idea so fantastic. Creative Europe Desk Ireland is always there to help too!
The next Creative Europe TV Funding deadline is 28th May, 2019.