BPG Lunch with I,Sniper: The Washington Killers exec John Smithson and Channel 4 commissioner Sacha Mirzoeff

The Broadcasting Press Guild held its first lunch of the year in late January with Arrow Pictures’ John Smithson and Channel 4 commissioner Sacha Mirzoeff. 

The pair were discussing Channel 4 true crime doc I, Sniper: The Washington Killers, which gave a minute-by-minute account of the 2002 Washington, D.C. sniper case – one of the most terrifying crimes in recent history.

Mirzoeff said he had immediately wanted the show for his true crime strand, while the Oscar-nominated Smithson said his team spoke to 450 people during the making of the doc. 

The key was using the voice of Lee Malvo, one of the perpetrators, added Smithson, who is now serving a life prison sentence and spoke to Smithson and his team on the phone.

“It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done,” said Smithson.

He added later: “The barriers with linear world and the streaming world are breaking down . It helps (producers) rather than hinders to have the streamers as buyers because it creates competition and there is a quality threshold. I,Sniper is a streaming proposition for Channel 4, for example. And we are talking to Channel 4 now about other streaming commissions.” 

Mirzoeff said: “We are seeing a shift into true crime on All4. Both in commissions and acquisitions. Viewing figures have been astonishing.”