Much like the determined pilgrims of Galicia’s famous Camino de Santiago, Spanish-language TV companies in Europe and Latin America were navigating the terrain of international coproduction at the inaugural Conecta Fiction event last week. Emiliano de Pablos reports from the event.
The inaugural edition of Spain’s Conecta Fiction confirmed the growing need for building coproduction bridges between fiction players in Europe and Latin America.
Running between Monday and Thursday last week (June 20-23) in Galicia’s Santiago de Compostela, the event served up an intense round of networking. Some 2,000 one-to-one meetings were reported, as well as roundtables on the hottest TV business issues. Happily for event organisers, delegates unanimously applauded the approach.
As traditional TV fiction financing models fade away, coproduction is becoming a priority for many producers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The case study of The Cathedral of the Sea (pictured below), a drama adaptation of Ildefonso Falcones’ best-selling novel set in the 14th Century, illustrated how Spanish TV companies are increasingly looking abroad to finance high-profile TV dramas. The show is a coproduction between broadcaster Atresmedia, Endemol Shine Iberia’s Diagonal and SVOD service Netflix.
With an estimated €10 million (US$11.4 million) budget, 70% of footage was filmed in locations across Spain. “We wanted to continue producing event series in the line of [Antena 3’s] The Time in Between,” said Nacho Manubens, deputy director of fiction at Atresmedia.
Following Atresmedia’s TV window, Netflix will offer the eight-episode series and Endemo Shine International. will handle the remaining international distribution rights.
“We knew that in Spain the series was going to have an important impact,” said Juan Mayne, Netflix’s international acquisitions director, and one of the most sought after TV executives for meetings.
“We also knew that Spanish fiction had large audiences on our TV service in Latin America. It was not a very complicated decision to take.”
Waking the giants
“Netflix woke the sleeping giants, pushing them to start generating much more content,” Marcelo Tamburri of Turner Latin America at the event.
During a panel on how to coproduce with Argentine TV broadcasters, Fox Networks Group senior VP and development head Jorge Stamadianos highlighted a key change in recent years: greater pay TV penetration, which has allowed sufficient enough critical mass for investment in local productions.
Sitiados is Fox’s first original series in Latin America, filmed in Patagonia with a high-profile cast led by Benjamín Vicuña. “It was a challenge, but coproduction allowed us to face it,” said Stamandianos. Fox has already coproduced a second season.
“Coproduction is a strategy designed for raising the bar,” said Guillermo Borensztein, international business manager at Viacom-owned Argentine broadcaster Telefé which is looking to develop international alliances for growth.
Thriller El Regreso de Lucas, a coproduction with Peru’s America TV, is Telefé’s first series to reach the US Hispanic market.
Since 2004, HBO Latin America has been a reference point not only for premium TV scripted production, but also for pan-regional strategies. Roberto Ríos, the company’s corporate VP for original production, presented HBO’s upcoming releases, primary among them El Jardín de Bronce, a coproduction with Argentina’s Pol-ka, which will be available in some 50 territories via HBO Nordic, HBO Spain and HBO Latin America.
“It’s important to maximise international marketing,” Ríos said. “Having the same language facilitates TV drama production, as well as technical processes for simultaneous releases.”
Guest house paradiso
The guest country at Conecta Fiction, Argentina, came with a standout delegation, headed by Ralph Haiek, president of The National Institution for Cinema and Audiovisual Art (INCAA), who announced a framework deal with Galicia’s government, aimed at promoting feature film and TV series coproduction.
Argentina’s Underground Producciones and Spain’s Boomerang TV Group unveiled their partnership for El Extranjero, a coproduction on a famous tennis player suspected of murdering a young woman, which is set to roll in Buenos Aires.
Two Galicia-based companies, Portocabo and Vaca Films, announced the historical thriller mini-series project Garbo – El Espía que Engañó a Hitler. This marks movie house Vaca’s entry into TV drama production.
“TV fiction has changed,” said Alfonso Blanco, Portocabo co-founder, whose project Hierro, a co-production with Lagardere’s Atlantique, Arte France and Spain’s Movistar+, was the subject of a case study (above).
“Now you can produce with a bigger scope and greater artistic ambitions. Synergies between film and TV producers are emerging in a natural way.”
Elsewhere, Galicia’s Agallas signed with Portugal’s Stopline to coproduce Oro Negro.
Spanish pubcaster RTVE will finance development for Amargura Street, a series produced by Galicia’s Ficcion Producciones and Cuban Radio-Television Institute, as well as for Spanish comedy Mothers in Trouble.
Telefonica’s Movistar+ committed €50,000 to develop Love in Times of Tinder, produced by Puerto Rico’s Belle Films and Galicia’s O Camiño Films.
Given its plan to release four original TV series this year and ten more by 2018, Movistar+, a game-changer company in Spain, will no doubt take centre stage in up-coming Conecta Fiction editions, which, as in attendance agreed, should continue into the future.