‘My Octopus Teacher’ Director James Reed Ties With BBC Studios – Deadline


EXCLUSIVE: James Reed, director of Oscar-winning Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher, has struck a one-year development partnership with BBC Studios.

Under the terms of the deal, Reed and his company Underdog Films will work with the BBC’s commercial producer-distributor over the next 12 months, adding to its pipeline of natural history feature docs. Reed will be joined by his Underdog creative partner Matt Houghton.

The news has been unveiled as the UK’s Wildscreen Festival gets underway, the respected natural history TV festival, and Reed is due to speak on a panel later today.

James Reed

He achieved worldwide acclaim with Netflix 2020 doc My Octopus Teacher, about a South African filmmaker who forges an unexpected friendship with an octopus, which went on to win the Best Documentary Feature award at the Oscars. Reed’s past credits include Jago – A Life Underwater and Rise of the Warrior Apes and he founded Underdog in 2015.

BBC Studios Natural History Unit (NHU) Head Jonny Keeling said: “Character and emotional storytelling are at the heart of filmmaking both at the NHU and Underdog Films, so we look forward to developing a number of original, ambitious and compelling natural history features.”

Reed praised the NHU for being “at the forefront of natural history film-making for decades and their further growth in the feature doc market will be a fantastic development for the industry as a whole.”

The NHU has had a hugely successful couple of years, winning commissions from Netflix, Apple TV+, NBC and HBO and also prepping the likes of Blue Planet III for the BBC.


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