Spanish Female Showrunners Insights: Gema R. Neira (Netflix’s ‘El Caso Asunta’)

Gema R. Neira

Spanish scripted shows are finding new audiences around the world. In this new series of articles, TBI speaks to some of the showrunners behind the country’s most acclaimed series, hearing today from Gema R. Neira, who has recently wrapped filming on El Caso Asunta for Netflix.

We’ve seen streamers and broadcasters cutting spending around the world over the last year, how has this affected Spain’s scripted sector from your perspective?

Many projects have been halted because several platforms have left Spain. Several months ago, we found ourselves with a series that was going to be released on Starzplay but a month before doing it, the platform disappeared, so we had to look for a new home for the project. In addition, I think that a small decrease in production has already begun to be noticed, as well as a containment in the budgets that had been rising in recent years.

Tell us about your latest show and what makes it unique.

We have just finished filming El Caso Asunta for Netflix [CHECK] the scripted series about the Asunta Basterra case, a fiction based on a true crime that took place in Spain. We produced a documentary with Bambú about the same case, but we thought it was time to show it from a new perspective.

We worked with good budgets for projects signed in 2022 that were being produced in 2023 but since then the budgets have stagnated

Working with a real case as heavy as this one is a big responsibility. We have aimed to stay as true to reality as possible. And to delve not so much into the ‘what happened?’ and ‘who are the culprits’, but ‘why did it happen?’ We also explore how such decisions are judged by public opinion before where they should be made: in a courtroom.

If you could wish for one thing to change within the Spanish scripted industry, what would it be?
Respect for creators. Steps forward have been made in recent years, but the arrival of platforms has also meant that we have once again defended foreign industries that know how to do our job when our series have been speaking for themselves for years.

And if I could add one more thing – I would love for the industry to be open to talking about controversial topics such as politics. I feel that in recent years we have taken steps backwards in this regard.

How have budgets changed over the past year and what are you expecting in 2024?

Last year we worked with good budgets for projects signed in 2022 that were being produced in 2023. But now I feel like the budgets have stagnated. Production has dropped and there is a great exercise of containment on the part of platforms/broadcasters.

What do you expect the key trend to be in 2024 in terms of the types of shows being commissioned?

A lot of comedies have been given the greenlight, probably as a legacy of the situations in recent years. I also think that love stories are back. And we’re still very focused on stories based on reality, although maybe a little less so on the biopics that have filled the screens in the last year.

What has been your favourite Spanish-language show of the past 12 months?

I love the comedy Poquita Fe, which was produced in Spain and launched on Movistar Plus+. It is written by Pepón Montero and Juan Maidagán, and is funny and very smart. A breath of fresh air.

I was also fascinated by the concept of El Encargado. The series by Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn seems to me to be a really good idea, a series with humour, depth and a contained production.

Tell us about one of your passion projects that you would love or make but which is yet to be greenlit

As I said before, I think that the political and social situation in Spain right now (a situation that extends to other countries in Europe) is an issue that we should talk about. We are in the process of writing a project about the political party PODEMOS that we hope will soon become a reality.

For those looking to learn more about the latest trends in Spanish scripted, check out the articles below:

Spanish Female Showrunners Insights: Laura Sarmiento (Netflix’s ‘El Cuerpo En llamas’)
Spanish Female Showrunners Insights: Tatiana Rodriguez (TVE’s ‘La Ley Del Mar’)
Spanish Female Showrunners Insights: Amaya Muruzabal (Prime Video’s ‘Reina Roja’)

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