ANYBODY who still doubts that FRAPA has a vital role to play in creating a safer environment for intellectual property might consider the case of Red Banana.
In the last five years, the Berlin-based creative shop has had no less than three of its format concepts “appropriated”, in the words of co-founder Patrick Drews, who launched Red Banana in 2003 with fellow producer Robert Moutsinga. The first format blueprint to go astray was a football-based format; the second was a dating show in which the children of singletons got to date their parents’ prospective partners; and the third was pilot about grown men who are obsessed with radio-controlled toys.
“We’re not saying that our concepts were actively stolen,” Drews says carefully. “But let’s just say that, after our third great idea ended up making money for somebody else, we decided it was time to do something about protecting our intellectual property.”
Red Banana’s solution was to join FRAPA and entrust its new concepts to the Paper Format Registry. As Drews notes, the one upside of having your IP ‘borrowed’ is that it confirms you are coming up with “relevant and interesting” ideas with real market value.
“But we’re not wearing rose-coloured spectacles,” he adds. “We’re not kidding ourselves that, by joining FRAPA, we’ll soon be selling three formats a week to broadcaster around the world. It’s just that the next time a good idea pops up, we’d like to think we’d done everything we could to keep that idea on our own payroll…”
Several of Red Bananas latest formats tap into what Drews believes is an up-and-coming genre on German television: dating. “The rise of social media has added a whole new dimension to dating,” he observes, adding that the likes of Facebook and Twitter mean that people now know a huge amount about their dates before they have even met, from age and relationship status to hobbies, musical tastes, friends — even what they look like on the beach.
But if social media has taken some of the mystery out of dating, Red Banana’s Chained Together promises to remove the last vestiges of it. In terms of game play, the clue is in the name: a single guy is chained to two girls for the 24 hours before he is due to leave on holiday with one of the women. “The three of them must do everything together, from pack to eat to sleep,” Drews says. “There’s no running and no hiding and, in the morning, the guy has to decided who he wants to take on holiday with him. Will it be the girl who’s packed the bag of philosophy books — or will it be the one with the best collection of bikinis?”
Other dating/relationship formats include Looking For Mrs Fisher, in which single fishermen attempt to hook a partner; and Virgin Camp, a right-of-passage reality show in which a group of 19-year-olds explore their hopes and fears about entering the world of adult relationships.
“We realised a couple of years ago that real life is what we do best,” Drews says. “A small company like Red Banana doesn’t have the resources to manufacture scripted reality, so we need to find compelling true stories. We believe we have some great stories to tell — and we’re hoping that FRAPA will enable us to tell them to the widest possible audience.”