HARDER THAN YOU THINK (HTYT), the company behind the critically acclaimed and Emmy award-winning documentary Rising Phoenix and the Equal Too: Podcast series, have extended their exclusive partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), giving the creative and campaigning company the film documentary and TV series rights to tell the Paralympic story through the Paris 2024, Milan 2026 and LA 2028 Paralympics.
The rights awarded to HARDER THAN YOU THINK through to 2028 cover:
Rising Phoenix film, documentary and TV series
Globally exclusive to AVOD, SVOD and TVOD
Unique filming access, including field of play
Access to the IPC archives (historical and modern day)
The Paralympics are now the third largest sporting event in the world, having seen its cumulative audience more than double in the last decade. It is expected that by LA2028, the Games will have a cumulative global audience of close to 5 billion.
“I said at the time of the release of the Rising Phoenix movie that it would be a game changer for the Paralympic movement and that has certainly proved to be the case," said Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee. "Rising Phoenix is growing the Paralympics, bringing in new audiences and in doing so changing minds and attitudes. This is a “Drive to survive” for the world’s most transformational event.”
The extension of this partnership underlines the desire of the International Paralympic Committee to tell their story in new creative ways to an even larger global audience at a time when interest in sports and social issues documentary and storytelling is booming.
“It is an honour to be asked to tell the story of the Paralympics," said Greg Nugent, Founder and President of HTYT. "We are extremely proud of what we have achieved to date with Rising Phoenix. The rights extension now gives us an extraordinary opportunity to think about the story all the way to LA, which we all hope will be a transformative Games for not just the sport but also global attitudes to disability.”
As part of the partnership, the team also announced a major new three-part television feature documentary series documenting the journeys of Paralympians from the start of the pandemic in early 2020 to the delayed Tokyo Paralympics which took place last summer. The teaser for the three-part series can be seen publicly for the first time here.
This series, with a working title of Rising Phoenix: Tokyo, was directed by Mat Whitecross, co-directed by Bim Ajadi, produced by John Battsek of Ventureland and Exec Produced by Jack Thorne. It follows 12 athletes from 11 countries and provides unique insight into one of the most extraordinary sporting events in history. Around 25% of those who worked on the production identify as disabled. HARDER THAN YOU THINK are now in talks with potential global distributors.
“I was first approached to make a show about the Paralympics just before the first lockdown in 2020," Whitecross said. "Our intention was to follow a dozen athletes from around the world on their road to the 2020 Tokyo Games. We soon realised it would be impossible for us or Paralympians to travel – and when the Games themselves were delayed by a year, it seemed the project was dead in the water. We had made contact with para athletes worldwide from as far afield as Iraq, Norway, Canada, Namibia – all with unique and remarkable stories.
“Over the course of the next year and a half, we followed these formidable athletes through all the highs and lows and all the way to Tokyo. It is one of the great privileges of my filmmaking career to have spent time with these incredible people – and to be able to tell their story to a wider audience.”
To follow on Tokyo 2020, the Rising Phoenix team have begun work on a documentary feature film to be released to coincide with the start of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. The company has begun a global search for a disabled director to lead the team for the project and has set a production target of 50% of the production team working on the project to identify as disabled.
HARDER THAN YOU THINK was created by Greg Nugent in 2018. It is an IP-led company positioning itself in the intersection of art, education and global progress. Its feature-length film, Rising Phoenix, was released globally in the summer of 2020 on Netflix. It was widely acclaimed and won two sports Emmys.
HTYT also co-produced a six-part podcast series in the summer of 2021 with Procter & Gamble Studios. The series was designed to shine a light on the biggest challenges faced by the disabled community and start a conversation about what is needed to drive equality.