“Generation What?” is coming to Asia-Pacific!

After France, Europe and the Middle East, the minds behind the project Generation What? are now helping Asia’s youth to create their own self-portrait. Now with the support of UNESCO and the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), “Generation What?” is coming to Asia Pacific.

Christophe Nick (YAMI 2, France) and Alexandre Brachet (Upian, France) have chosen Asian Side of the Doc to announce the Asian launch of the international trans-media campaign “Generation What?” which has already reached over 950,000 young people in 13 countries across Europe. The vast comparative survey not only allows young people to get to know themselves; it ultimately brings them together as an active community.

 “Generation What?” is an international format which works in any cultural part of the world, the only condition is to be connected on web. UNESCO asked us to do it in Asia! Who can say “NO” when UNESCO asks you to be involved? We’re very proud of this, and a duty has become a desire… We feel it is urgent to help this generation, not only to find itself, but also to build bridges across borders.

Alexandre Brachet, Producer at UPIAN

Alexandre Brachet, Producer at UPIAN

Christophe Nick, Producer at YAMI 2

Christophe Nick, Producer at YAMI 2

Q: From a local French project to a global society phenomenon: what has motivated you the most in extending the “Generation What?” survey and online experience across Asia?

Christophe Nick: Two things: first, the fact that the European “Generation What?” had the same success that the first French version, meaning that we had created a successful transmedia format. At the same time as the European campaign, we started exploring the Arab world and discovered, in testing the format in Libya and Tunisia, that it also worked there. It was the proof that “Generation What?” is an international format which works in any cultural part of the word, the only condition is to be connected on web. The second reason is that UNESCO asked us to do it! Who can say “NO” when UNESCO asks you to be involved? We’re very proud of this, and a duty has become a desire.

Alexandre Brachet: And there is a third reason. We are deeply concerned by the future of our planet, the world our children will live in. Like all parents, we feel it is urgent to help this generation, not only to find itself, but also to build bridges across borders. We believe in the power of broadcasters to have a positive influence on their audiences. Thanks to the web, a tool now exists now where each of us can develop and participate in a programme. Connecting young people from many countries via internet to a central hub where Asiatic, Arabic, European and Pacific people will be able to compare themselves, and discover that their differences are smaller than their resemblance, is an incredible challenge we want to win.

101016_HP_gen_what_asia-pacific_Logo_Asia_Pacific_bleuQ: Are you expecting the same level of online engagement in Asia than in Europe? What new challenges are you facing for this Asian-Pacific launch?

Christophe Nick: In Europe we have already 950,000 respondents, 1.5 million sessions, more than 75 million answers, from 13 countries with 19 broadcasters. And the campaign is not finished! Don’t forget that 18-34 year olds represent less than 25% of the European population. So if I project this onto Asia… Wow!
Why not ten million respondents? One billion answers? I don’t know. In fact, it only depends on the number of broadcasters involved.
If China and India join the project, the sky’s the limit.

Alexandre Brachet: Which brings us to the technical challenges. But that’s another topic:-) We will go step by step, and of course we take into account the way people use the internet in these countries. Our programme is already made for mobile phones, which is very important for us. We will have also to explore new partnerships so that we can reach audiences everywhere.

Q: What opportunities are unique to working with Asian partners such as UNESCO-ASIA and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU)?

Alexandre Brachet: The ABU has ambitious objectives for cooperation and co-production between broadcasters. They are creating the perfect environment for success. The previous success of “Big Cities” gave the ABU a very high professional knowledge. When we met them the first time they were incredibly reactive. The ABU has made huge efforts in a short time for networking and fundraising. We have found energy and efficiency, which is rare in the international broadcasting system! The ABU will help us to coordinate the whole campaign and will be specifically in charge of all the legal and financial aspects of the project.

Christophe Nick: UNESCO-Asia is working as the team leader of the operation. Their Bangkok office is now the centre of the world!! Seriously, though, they knew and have seen what we did in Europe, they followed our networking in the Arab word and have helped us to succeed. Now, UNESCO has put “Generation What?” Asia-Pacific as a priority on its agenda. This is incredibly powerful and gives us more than just energy and motivation, but a new legitimacy.

Alexandre Brachet: That means a real partnership between UNESCO, the ABU and us in Europe. We have the same goal, the same spirit and the same motivation.

Christophe Nick: This project also needs specific fundraising. Some countries have the same power of production as in Europe, others have strong financial problems. UNESCO-Asia can help the project with public or private donors who will help cover some broadcaster expenditure. But we need also very powerful broadcasters to help the less powerful ones, like the EBU does in Europe.


Q: How do you expect young people in Asia to be using the “Generation What?” tool?

Christophe Nick: “Generation What?” is first and foremost an intimate experiment. When you are young, you always ask you deep questions like am I normal? Who thinks like me? When you answer the questionnaire, you suddenly discover that you are like everybody else, in a minority or in a majority, but you are INSIDE your generation, and it helps you to find your way. Young people in Asia and the Pacific region need to compare themselves to others so that they can understand that they are not alone.

Alexandre Brachet: When they discover all the video content, they will not only compare themselves to the whole, but also to other individuals, who are probably very different from them, but finally talking and thinking like them. This will push them to suggest to their friends to answer all together. We have seen so many Saturday nights between friends in Europe like this: one takes his smartphone and connects to Generation What?, the others do the same, and for hours, they answer and discuss topics they never usually talk about.

Christophe Nick: When they realise that a broadcaster is behind this operation, that their voice is heard, and that TV content is dedicated to their voice, they are firstly astonished and then recognise that this is what was lacking: a link between a public service broadcaster and their generation. It’s a very deep reconnection.

Q: In a media industry where borders between screens are becoming less and less clear, what message do you want to convey to the international doc community during the “Generation What?”
case study at
GW_TheCaseStudy_250Asian Side of the Doc on November 1st?

Alexandre Brachet: Our mantra is “what can I do online that I cannot do on TV”. This is a strong statement. “Generation What?” is a format that fits with public service values but it is also a 100% digital programme. We co-create the content with the audience. Giving a voice to the youth is a very strong argument at a time where the youth seems to be considered by many broadcasters as a lost audience. The fact that our format is working everywhere is also very important. in many European countries we have seen that it is a fantastic programme for broadcasters who want to start with digital content. We will bring them security and comfort thanks to our project management team, which stays very close to each broadcaster.

Christophe Nick: People will never consume television in the same way that we did.  That does not mean that young people don’t want to watch television content anymore. It means we have to produce programmes made for the web and for television. Using the web solely for the promotion of television content, documentaries or fiction, is only marketing. The power of the web is much greater. The web needs specific storytelling. When you understand how this storytelling works, you immediately enlarge your creativity, your power of penetration and influence. The television will keep the lead, but it cannot remain alone. All broadcasters are becoming more than broadcaster content editors, by and with any technology.
“Generation What?” helps broadcasters to learn how to play with all screens.

Q: At Upian/Yami 2, what do you consider to be the biggest changes on the horizon for documentary storytelling?


Alexandre Brachet: The documentary world is changing all time, and that is very good. Telling the real, decrypting society, moving standards that is our job, our desire, our daily lives. And honestly, I don’t wonder about the future of storytelling, but rather the present. “New writing”, “new media”: these are outdated expressions, because interactivity is everywhere! So, now, it is important to act, whatever the medium is chosen: the web, tv, radio, VR. For me, whatever its form, a programme is a documentary or not. We live in the present and our form, that appear to some as research, are, on the contrary, the real images of the present. Our audience figures prove it every day. We attract more people to “Generation What?” than a lot of movies that are shown on television.



YAMI_250Christophe Nick: I will say something I would never have said two years ago. The multiplication of sources, the power of social-networks were supposed to accelerate the pace of narratives, the pace of editing, especially for documentaries. Shorter and stronger were the keywords for all producers and editors! We now realise that this is the biggest mistake we can make! It’s like food, if I can use this comparison: the more you eat fast-food, the more you appreciate slowfood. Documentaries are the future of TV because everybody need distance, complexity and real thinking, exactly what Facebook and YouTube can not give you. Don’t forget that the new generation is the most educated we never had in history. They understand much quicker any problem than us. But they also need strong and deep contents. Just because they are not idiot!  Simply, the standards are higher: stronger stories, better pictures, better filmmakers, bigger ambition. The biggest change is there: documentaries’ industry has in front of itself a new golden age to assume, this needs more investments and budgets, more co-production, more buy-and-sell.
We are just at the beginning of 21st century…


About Alexandre Brachet – Producer at Upian

Alexandre Brachet, 41, founded Upian in 1998. Upian is a creative studio specialising in ergonomic design and graphic media websites (Rue89, L’Equipe, Radio France, AFP, Inrocks …). Upian is also an interactive production company which has developed programmes in the field of journalism, politics and literature.
Mention may be made in particular of several web documentaries: thanatorama.com (2007); gaza-sderot.arte.tv (2008); prisonvalley.arte.tv (2010); Alma, a girl of violence (2012), co-produced with ARTE TV and GénérationQuoi, co-produced with France and Yami2 France Televisions.
In April 2015, Upian launched Do Not Track, a personalized documentary series on privacy and the web economy produced by Brett Gaylor. This international co-production was produced in collaboration with the NFB (Canada), Arte (France and Germany), BR (Germany) and broadcast by AJ + (USA), CBC (Canada) and RTS (Switzerland).


About Christophe Nick – Producer at YAMI 2

Born in 1958, Christophe Nick started his career in 1980 as a journalist for Rock’n Folk Magazine before joining Actuel Magazine as head of investigations until 1994. He then started his collaboration with Pierre Péan with whom he wrote several investigative documentaries. In 2002, he directed Chroniques de la violence ordinaire for France 2 and received the Critics award for Best TV Documentary in 2005 from the Union of French Cinema Critics. He created Yami 2 in 2006 and now focuses on production.
YAMI 2 is an independent production company created in 2006 by Christophe Nick and Pierre Péan. The company produces event programming with strong editorial and cinematic ambition along with historical, political and sociological themes. Yami 2’s programmes frequently receive some of the most prestigious awards (two Albert Londres Awards – in 2010 and 2012, an Italia Award in 2010 and 2014, a Critic’s Award for cinema and television in 2010). With a strong presence on the international market, Yami 2 received an award from Sunny Side of the Doc in 2011 for its international success with the film The game of Death. Yami 2 works in partnership with Upian for the development of web projects.