A 2013 Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist, Tom Jennings has written, produced and directed more than 400 hours of programming for such networks as CBS, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and History. As founder of 1895 Films, Tom seeks to create films based on actual events, factual and historical documentaries. As with any new member, IQ interviewed Tom to find out more about his life, recent projects, and more.
Why join IQ?
Recognizing that the world is rapidly changing with new platforms such as social media, Netflix, Amazon, Tom is looking to tailor his company’s approach to how content can be viewed to be a part of these emerging platforms. In other words, looking at what is coming next in order to stay competitive.
Do you share any history/ connections with IQ members?
Tom has many conversations about IQ with member Jim Tusty, a fellow Non-Fiction/Documentary member. He has also been in contact with members Mike and Gautam Pandey regarding collaborating on a wildlife documentary as there are many similarities in their storytelling, and is even meeting up with LA-based member Peer Oppenheimer.
Tell us about your company, 1895 Films.
1895 Films makes documentaries for cable television, which in general play very different than feature documentaries for theatrical or HBO/Showtime. The company is looking to broaden their storytelling reach and move into feature docs or even narrative episodic television or feature films based on historical events.
In 2012, Tom rebranded his company as 1895 Films to reflect a broadening of its focus and expansion into international productions and coproductions. “1895 was the year the Lumière brothers launched the brave new world of moving pictures. We thought it was a fitting way to mark out move into new geographic and cinematic territory” says Tom. That new cinematic territory includes feature-length documentaries and scripted programming.
Talk to us about your ongoing projects.
Tom is currently working on a project with National Geographic, has a new series with the Smithsonian channel, and a project about the LA Riots, which premieres Sunday, April 23 at 8 p.m. ET/PT to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the debilitating days in the City of Angels.
Anything you would like to share with IQ Members?
“I’m very excited that member Jim Tusty invited me to be a part of this group” says Tom. “At times, my staff and I feel like we work in a vacuum — producing dozens of hours of non-fiction television with the end-goal of being able to simply continue producing television. I’m excited to learn how other producers and companies do their work and to learn from them so that we can do a better job in creating our films.”