Luther and Hobbs & Shaw star Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures and wife Sabrina Elba’s Pink Towel have unveiled plans for Paid in Full: The Battle for Payback, a documentary about the music industry exploiting Black artists, for the BBC and CBC networks.
The three-parter, which will also explore reparations for Black artists, has backing from Zinc Media’s production label Supercollider and is being produced in association with Canadian indie producer Catalyst.
“This is a story that touches all of us. It’s about the people who created the soundtracks of our lives in popular music and the pain of their exploitation. It’s also about bringing the music industry to account for the injustice inflicted on generations of musical talents who have been deprived of their rightful rewards both financially and in terms of status and respect. At the heart of it is the need to make amends — granting acknowledgement and paying back what is due,” Green Door CEO Idris Elba said in a statement on Monday.
Paid in Full, with David Upshal on board as the showrunner, will be funded in part by Media Musketeers Studios and Abacus Media Rights, which is distributing the series internationally.
Despite the pop music industry owing much to Black artists, the Elbas’ documentary will center on the historic injustice they faced being denied their fair share profits and recognition after Black creatives drove the culture of popular music, from jazz and rock and roll to soul and rap, with their talents.
As Paid in Full focuses on the current fight for industry change, the documentary will feature contributions from author, rapper and filmmaker MK Asante Jr, in addition to Lawrence Lartey of Ravensbourne University London, who has worked with Barack Obama’s Obama Foundation on its My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Lartey also worked with Idris Elba and Asante on the UK documentary How Hip Hop Changed the World.
“Far from being a straight music documentary, this series will explore the music industry within a racial context and reflect the history of exploitation within the industry. It will also major in on conversations of structural racism and those who have worked so hard to expose them,” Tanya Shaw, managing director of Zinc Television, added in a statement.
“We look forward to sharing this important series with audiences in Canada, offering a necessary and in-depth exploration of the structural racism inherent in the music industry and its impact over the decades,” Jennifer Dettman, executive director of unscripted content at the CBC, added.
Paid in Full was greenlit for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer and for the CBC and CBC Gem streaming platform in Canada. The executive producer credits are shared by Greg Sanderson for Supercollider, Idris Elba for Green Door Pictures, Sabrina Elba for Pink Towel and Julie Bristow for Catalyst.
Idris Elba’s Green Door has scripted TCV credits that include Hijack for Apple TV+; the Sky One comedy In The Long Run, created by and featuring Elba; and the Netflix comedy Turn Up Charlie, a co-production with Brown Eyed Boy that was co-created by and starring Elba.
Movie credits include Concrete Cowboy, a collaboration with Neighborhood Film Co., Tucker Tooley Entertainment and Lee Daniels Entertainment for Netflix.