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August 14, 2019

Great Expectations

With unscripted fare like 9 Months,  AMPLE wants to exceed what its viewers expect.

Mara Reinstein
  • Courteney Cox

    Courtesy Facebook Watch
  • Phil Lott and Ari Mark

    AMPLE Entertainment

Nobody ever gets the answer right.

Truth is, AMPLE Entertainment is an acronym for the initials of principals Ari Mark and Phil Lott. But the production company's name also works if you simply Google the definition of the word — which Mark and Lott did three years ago.

"It means 'more than enough' and 'plentiful,'" Mark explains. "We like that because I was always raised with the mentality that it's never enough. There's a bit of cynicism to the name. We like the sense of not settling."

They're not settling at all. Their nearly 50 hours of programming planned for this year includes the intimate, 20-episode Facebook Watch series, 9 Months with Courteney Cox. The show, which launched in January, details the entire pregnancy process using footage shot by a variety of women and their partners, plus B-roll. "They're self-documenting the journey of life before birth," Mark says.

Cox, an executive producer, provides the voiceover and "curates" the journey. "She was at the top of our list, but we never thought she'd do it," Lott says of the Friends alum (who's also a mom). "Forty minutes later, she was on the phone with us, absolutely beaming about the show and saying she was in. We felt like we had a genuine connection with her. She's an awesome, amazing producer."

Mark and Lott's own journey together started in 2012 when they both worked on The Pitch, AMC's nonfiction answer to Mad Men's view of advertising. Mark was an executive in the network's unscripted division while Lott, a veteran director of photography, coproduced the series. "I was impressed with his work, and I don't impress easily," Mark says. They agreed to stay in touch.

By Christmas 2015, they'd decided to create AMPLE, so they staked out space in a one-family house in "a busted part of Culver City," Mark says. "It was all we could afford. We turned a kids' room into my office."

They're still in Culver City, but now they have 25 edit bays and a stage, with more than 100 freelancers reporting to them; their slate includes series such as A&E Cold Case Files and ID's Murder in the Heartland. Lott is more involved in production and development, while Mark leans to sales.

Still, Mark notes, "We're creatives first, and we try to figure out how to be in the same room as much as possible."

So what makes for a compelling unscripted series? For Lott, a Brit who calls Netflix's The Staircase his favorite work in the genre, the standards for AMPLE are high.

"We're at the intersection of quality and commercial," he says. "You can feel great editing something, but you can't just pat yourself on the back, because you want the audience to watch it, too. You want to tell a story that's unique and feels like it's elevating expectations."

Mark adds, "We don't need to revolutionize. Even slightly defying expectations goes a long way."


This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, issue No. 7, 2019

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