Leonine Studios’ Gebrueder Beetz Hires ZDF Docs Expert Martin Pieper

EXCLUSIVE: Leonine Studios’ Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion has hired international doc expert Martin Pieper from public network ZDF.

The experienced exec will exit ZDF after 20 years to join the German production house on October 1 as International Producer.

Gebrueder Beetz is known for docs such as Sky’s Juan Carlos – Downfall of the King and Netflix’s first German doc-series Perfect Crime and is considered as one of mainland Europe’s top factual producers.

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Pieper, who has a reputation as an expert on the international doc market, led numerous ZDF/Arte’s editorial departments, namely its Culture and Science, Thema and, most recently News/Arte units. During his time at ZDF, he worked with Gebrueder Beetz on Armenian Academy Award entry Aurora’s Sunrise and docs Gaza and The Land of the Enlightened, both of which were nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Pieper will lead international co-production activities in his new role and seek to make the company’s content more international. His international doc productions include Why Democracy, Why Slavery and Why Plastic, which were part of human rights journalism initiative The Why and Generation Africa, which told stories of migration from the perspective of young Africans and was made in collaboration with local African writers and directors. He will report to Producer and Managing Director Christian Beetz.

Pieper has worked with doc makers such as Eugene Jarecki (Reagan, The House I Live In), Alex Gibney (Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God), Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith (The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers), Liz Garbus (Bobby Fischer Against the World), Janus Metz (Camp Armadillo), Christian Frei (The Giant Buddhas, Space Tourists, Genesis 2.0) and Sam Hobkinson (Misha and the Wolves).

Among his local credits are Grimme Award-winning ZDF/ARTE series Into the Night With…/Durch Die Nacht Mit.

“With Martin Pieper, we are gaining an experienced international producer whose commitment to high-quality productions fits perfectly with our content focus,” said Gebrueder Beetz co-founder Beetz. “He has an excellent international network and will play a significant role in furthering our internationalization and our focus on producing relevant documentaries with a global perspective for an international audience.”

Gebrueder Beetz has made around 250 doc series and features since its creation in 2000, such as he 2013 Academy Award-nominated Open Heart and The Cleaners, which debuted at the Sundance International Film Festival in 2018 and won several awards. On the TV side, it has produced shows such as Reeperbahn — Special Unit 65, a ARD Mediathek show that was awarded best docu-series at the Berlinale Series fest last year.

Almost a year ago, we revealed expanding Germany-based production group Leonine Studios had acquired the business, taking 50% of Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion & Co. KG (Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne) and 100% of Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion Lüneburg. The deal led to the creation of a deep development fund that will allow them to make between 12-15 premium doc series and/or one-offs per year. “It’s a huge step, going from a family business to a consolidated business,” Beetz told Deadline at the time.

We also had the first report on the company’s new doc projects The Netanyahu Paradox and Lost at Sea – The Longest Night, the latter of which is a collaboration with Lucy, the Human Chimp director Alex Parkinson.

Pieper said: “I have known Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion since its foundation and have long been able to follow their constant struggle for viewers, the search for innovative forms of storytelling and the visual implementation to make complex topics exciting and understandable. They have thus become a reference internationally. As the ‘Godfather’ says: ‘An offer you can’t refuse.’”

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