23 January, 2008 – Accolades and Regional Attraction Fund investment for YoYo Media
YoYo Media, operating a core-team from offices in Didsbury, Manchester, has only been established for 12 months, but already it's got commissioners interested in what it has to offer.
And the business plan has got Northwest Vision and Media interested, too, which is why YoYo Media has been offered investment from the screen agency’s Regional Attraction Fund, designed to help the new indie take some bold steps towards a bright future.
It’s also why Vision and Media has named YoYo as it’s Facility of the Month in January; further proof, perhaps, that YoYo Media is about to break into the big time.
"This money will help develop us as a company," said Jo. "Our area of expertise is contemporary returning drama. We’ll be using the funds to work with newly recruited Mervyn Watson and expand our slate of projects, bringing in new ideas, working with writers to develop concepts, and focusing on getting our first commission.
"YoYo Media has existed for just over a year, and this is just the push we need to make our first programme happen."
Jo knows a thing or two about creating a successful returning drama series. As the Head of Drama at Phil Redmond’s Mersey Television she was responsible for overseeing all output and the development of further projects. Jo was a Hollyoaks pioneer, coming on board in the early days when it was only known as Teen Soap. She became instrumental to the project and quickly made Producer. Jo developed the show into the brand it is today, overseeing its growth to the now familiar five evening programmes a week.
When Mersey Television was sold to All3Media in 2005, Jo realised it was time for a new challenge and decided to move out on her own.
"I was looking to do what I wanted to do," she explains. "I had quite a few ideas, and the main one was to set up my own company. It was time to move on. I’d been working on Hollyoaks for a long while."
Jo spoke to her friend Lynne Marriott, whose years of Production Executive experience across the BBC, Granada and Mersey Television meant her path had crossed with Jo’s many times, including working together on Hollyoaks. Lynne introduced Jo to Walli Ullah, an experienced producer who was himself looking for a new challenge, and their combined love of drama became YoYo Media.
Lynne is now the Head of Production for YoYo Media and is co-ordinating all development for the company.
"We’ve spent this last year searching for great ideas to develop," says Jo. "Several concepts have been our own, but people have also come to us with ideas as an already written script, a one page description, or sometimes it can be a matter of just one line if the idea is strong enough!"
A number of programme ideas are in development already. Tidal Rave is their leading concept, a post-teen drama series following the construction of a music festival – and it’s a musical drama! A ‘sizzler tape’ is doing the rounds with the broadcasters at the moment. If commissioned, young viewers will recognise the talents of James Bourne from Busted. James worked with YoYo on the musical aspect.
Jo thinks Tidal Rave is unique at the moment. "As well as being a musical series, we’re looking to organise the music festival in the real world. Viewers could come and actually be a part of the programme!"
Another potential programme is Subversive Housewives, whose script is with ITV at the moment. Jo describes it as a "malign Mary Poppins, infiltrating the lives of bored, rich housewives to teach them lessons in morality."
Doctors At War, also currently in script development with ITV, offers an evidently more macho take on the traditional medical drama.
With all five staff based in and around Manchester, YoYo Media couldn’t be better placed to work with the great and good of the Northwest’s media industry.
"There is a real buzz about the Northwest, and I have no aspirations whatsoever to move to London," declares Jo. "We’re true Northwest people. This is where we know, and where we know what we’re doing. There’s simply no reason to move away.
"For me, and for YoYo, if you don’t come in to a programme at the ground floor, then there’s no challenge. If a series is already established as a success there’s less opportunity to put your stamp on it and see it grow."
For the future, YoYo Media are logically aiming to have launched several successful returning television dramas, and they are working hard to get there.
"The industry is tough, it’s relentless," admits Jo. "But if it was easy, everybody would be doing it! All of us at YoYo Media are very determined in our own way.
"’No’ doesn’t come into our vocabulary. It’s about turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’."
And with Northwest Vision and Media behind them, Jo is hoping it won’t be long before the commissions come pouring in.
Source: Northwest Vision + Media press release