Two award-winning Kiwi filmmakers are set to release a drama series that attacks a gap in the worldwide English language-learning market.
Chasing Time Production owners Scott Granville and Ben Woollen have recently completed the filming of the first series of Fortune, a six-part series created specifically for adult English language teachers and learners.
Filmed in Hamilton, Fortune follows a private investigator wrapped up in a mysterious disappearance, but the unique selling point of Fortune is its objective; the dramatic six minute episodes are created to entertain, and to teach.
"We wanted to create something that would be interesting to a native English speaker, but more importantly could be used for learning and teaching by English language learners around the world," Granville said.
"Traditionally, when people try to deliver English language video content, it gets to a point where it becomes almost unwatchable and then you switch off. We want to give our audience a story they can follow and enjoy so the learning materials aren't such a chore.
"We're quite confident that this particular form of narrative drama doesn't exist at the moment."
Viewers are able to watch each episode at their level of language-learning proficiency, with supporting materials designed by highly qualified TESOL education professionals.
Granville has been involved in English teaching in New Zealand for the past 10 years and in 2008 set up film company Chasing Time Productions with Woollen. After producing a number of award winning short films which had international success, and dabbling in feature films, Granville came up with the idea of combining his two jobs.
"Our research showed that English language learning content fell into two categories. There is popular content, shows like Friends, which teachers then have to adapt to fit a narrow focus as it's not designed for teaching English, or the flipside is you get providers with a strong language focus who lose the audience because their video content doesn't connect with viewers. Fortune covers that middle ground, written with the audience in mind."
The first episode of season one is planned to be released in October on the Chasing Time English website. Viewers will be able to watch the first season for free, as well as trial the first episode materials, but will have to purchase the additional learning materials.
"We've had overwhelming excitement from people in language education and media production about what this is going to look like," said Granville. "We've kept a lot of it close to our chest because of the risk involved in revealing too much too early. We feel we're onto a real winner here."
Woollen, who recently completed a six-month contract with a major motion picture in Wellington, and Granville already have plans in place for season two of Fortune, and are in advanced stages for the creation of series for young adults and children.