Forum 2014 – Creating Universal Stories for Films & TV

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Forum 2014 – Creating Universal Stories for Films & TV

hello everyone welcome to the last panel discussion of today the financing co-production day this one creating Universal stories for film and TV moderated by Liz Shackleton who’s accompanied by I’m in a suit Nils Hartmann and Mike Lohner thank you good afternoon everybody so over the last few days at the forum we’ve been learning a lot about financing and co-production we’ve also looked at digital distribution and marketing everything that we’ve talked about so far has been very focused on the business and the numbers so we thought be interesting in this session to look a little bit more at the creative side of film and TV production so we have three guests with us today who come from very different corners of film and TV production so I’m just going to start by getting them each to explain a little bit about what they produce and what they do so can we start with you please Ayman Thank You Liz and hello everyone charisma group is the fastest growing production company in the Middle East we produced over 4,000 TV hours on uni basis our focus is really the region the Middle East and we are a company that is based that focuses its business on local content and local relevant content which means we we create content from scratch stemming from our audience in the region as well as acquiring content that is really relevant to our audience in the Middle East and North Africa more about the format’s and types of content you produce you’re telling me it’s drama but it’s also across many different formats we do drama but it’s it’s not our primary production we do more our TV production talk shows game shows reality we’ve done a couple of drama projects a film the first film that was actually shown in Saudi Arabia in public after 40 years of ban it was produced by us and that was in 2009 it had a local very local name it’s called minashi and it was the first movie to be shown in Saudi Arabia in public parks in across the board it just resonated all over the world it was a big big event you know because there are no theatres cinemas in in Saudi Arabia okay thank you very much so Neil’s your director of original productions at Sky Italia can you just explain a little bit about what what you’ve been producing that okay hi everyone I manage the scripted parts all the drama side but also the entertainment format so I am a bit schizophrenic between X Factor and kamagra so Gemara is the latest series we produced it’s a book by an author called Roberto Saviano that has been an international case Saviano and the last 10 years has been living with a police escort because he spent a couple of years within the Napolitan mafia and told that story that then became a movie that one at the Cannes Film Festival and then we produced the series from the book and the movie so that’s our drama slate and the latest example is Kamal and then on the other side we have the entertain and Mike could you tell us a little bit about roast-beef productions what you’ve been doing yeah we we started a company about ten years ago and we’ve had fortunately some good success with films like Afghan star Helen back again smash-and-grab story the pink Panther’s film about Riot pushy right a punk prayer and and the square which actually was showing in Dubai last year smashing smashing grab indeed we had two films here last year and you know our main focus is on is on future documentary and and and and we do some TV series as well so yeah we were always yeah I mean interested in this conversation of course and it’s all reality based or all reality based okay thank you so one of the first things I wanted us to talk about is just how you go about that whole process of finding stories how you find something that is suitable for what you want to develop and do you think that one story can work across different formats so I’m and perhaps you could start by talking about how you go about finding the ideas and stories in the first place well the

basis of finding any story if you’re talking about how we source our content how we really get access our content well today is different than like a year ago or two years ago today we have the Internet where there’s a lot of it’s beyond the you know beyond the writers of Hollywood and and you know that the people who went to college for four five years or four years studying film and TV today when you find a story online that that has the basics of any production that can resonate to the audience which has in my opinion you know can create some emotion and resonance and with through the human truth if you find that success online you can grab that person and take them on and and you know take them on board and you invest in them so there’s a lot you know of sourcing content through the digital platforms nowadays what are you looking at specifically something that’s gone viral or something that’s a big hit if it has gone viral it means it’s successful so we definitely you know get after it but any story that finds interest from the audiences and we have immediate measures that’s that’s an interest to us but other than that the way we source content we we have our own model the the charisma content development model which is we are a company that is inspired by the audience so we are very much rooted in what our audience want we from a cultural standpoint we produce for cross borders the Arab world that you know they’re it’s a kind of a unique case because we have about 22 countries that speak the same language with different dialects but smaller and you know you can understand each other and we have in also in common the religions the religious factor which plays a big role in the cultural factor so when you add these two together it’s easy to go cross border and and these stories usually are really easier to produce and find audience for and finances for in our region I see thanks I want to come back later to talk about the pan-arab market and whether it really exists but we’ve just move on to Neils because you tell us a little bit about the genesis of romanzo criminale eien and gomorrah like how those how you’ve found the story and how the project was put together when we launched the drama slate in Italy being a satellite network the most important thing was to differentiate ourselves from the public broadcaster so the first motto the headline I came up with was if it works for Mediaset and RIE it ain’t no good for sky so public broadcasters were doing popes Saints and bicycle heroes we were going for porn stars and criminals that was the direction so the other issue for us was how can we cut through the clutter we have over hundred channels on the platform people are watching content on the web free TV is producing a big drama slate so what it was important for us to have something that would cut through all the noise so it was when we were presented the idea of romanzo criminale and that had been a very successful book in Italy based on a true story of a criminal gang that existed in Italy and still exists to an extent the book became a movie one of the better Italian movies that traveled internationally and so we decided to do the series because there was enough stuff in the book to do a long-running series and the brand romanzo criminale in itself helped a lot because people immediately would know what that was about and the same story went Kamara Gemara has been a even more successful book sold all over the world that became a movie internationally-recognized so from a communication point of view if you want to get the people there to watch your production alone the brand kamagra would attract attention then you obviously have to produce a good series but that’s something else so for us these elements were important plus we felt and probably still feel that bad guys were better than good guys but that’s we’ve been on both cases told by the Italian politicians said we were morally wrong because you cannot tell the evil you have to have good examples which is complete if you excuse my French because that’s what kind of screwed up the Italian fiction storytelling all the way you always have to have the story with a good guy and the bad guy and whenever there’s a criminal you have to have a priest somewhere who does something good and that is not what it is about it’s about telling something relevant emotionally believable close to reality and if we

would have as at a certain point some executives told me put a good cop inside Gomorrah we would have screwed the entire project up it’s about telling different shades of evil it’s really close to what is happening nowadays in Italy so this the two elements let’s say the dark side and the truthfulness is what we were looking for and is it much easier to do a series that’s based on a proven property like a film or a book than something that’s completely original I think it helps I think now we’re at this stage where our next project that will air in spring is called 1992 1992 is the year that changed Italian politics because it was the year where the first arrest was made in Milan so the link between corruption and politics it was the rise of Berlusconi and the rise of the legen of the northern party and the fall of the old political system to tell the story 20 years later is funny because nothing has changed so ever that was corny unfortunately locally relevant locally relevant yes well I guess the Rose cone is one of the brands unfortunately we have exported all over the world so it could have some some interest internationally and that’s an original idea so we are now in a phase where we’re looking for regional concepts right thank you so both of you really are looking at content from the point of view of a TV audience I mean that’s one of the first thing that’s that’s in your mind when you’re developing a new project so Mike how about you how do you go about finding your subjects and your stories and are you also thinking how is this gonna play on TV or is it more theatrical for you what’s that whole process well we do produce some straightforward nonfiction TV as well but yeah we’re talking about feature films and I wish I had a kind of actual method and there isn’t one but we’re and stories come in in various ways sometimes I mean we made the write film I mean I remember the day back in January 2012 when oh the newspaper and saw these guys doing their protest in front of the Kremlin and thought who are these people and and and and then of course they get arrested and you think well for this silly crime and you’re thinking well this has got all the makings of a big story so you know so that’s one method you read the newspaper I mean probably on a daily basis you could find a story in a national newspaper that could in some way or another transform into a feature film and sometimes we’re very lucky and people come to us with with material where they’ve been developing or ideas that they have and and again if we if we see you know a future in that then we will get involved and help that and we’ve been very lucky but I’ve got a new film at Sundance in January which film called the Russian woodpecker and which is a really extraordinary film why I won’t go into the details of it that you know I just got an email from the director one morning and sent me some of this material and I was just sort of just incredible so sometimes that happens but but yeah I think perhaps we’ll go on and talk a bit later about what the difference between a TV documentary and a feature film and I think you know I think we all have perhaps a lot to say about that but in terms of how you choose I mean again luck is really the key I think right but do you have to have a personal connection to that story to take it on if somebody pitched you an idea and you thought well that’s great but it’s I don’t have a personal connection to it would you still do it well you’re looking for the personal connection in a way of perhaps that’s the whole point and about you know and if it’s something you can empathize and identify with and you know we we have made films literally all over the world and I don’t see that its geographical location is necessarily a important it’s what’s important is do we connect to these people as human beings and can we empathize with them and are we interested in them simply I think yeah I think the more people really empathize with with with that if the producer empathizes with the viewer and creates that emotional resonance then you find through a human truth then you’ll find a lot of people really interested in your product and they want to watch it because it mirrors them and once it mirrors them then they find interest in it and it becomes very relevant to them regardless where they are and in which territory they are so I guess TV it’s the same way wherever you are in the world we followed the same rules right great and we’ll come back to that in a minute as well but you just touched on something Mike I think we should talk about first I think it’s the topic of this seminar what are the differences between or are there any differences between stories that work for TV and film and documentary in your experience well I guess essentially the difference between a feature film and a television documentary is is is scale

really and whether it’s the the you know the sort of length of time that a story evolves over or the or the the levels of nuance and and sophistication that the story has I mean some things can’t be told in well forty seven minutes or whatever a traditional television hour is you know and you know some I think again also characters I think I did a little bigger than that as well so whilst it’s obviously possible to reduce anything I guess certain things do demand I think more time and space to you know you might have a lot of backstory to tell you might have you know a you know a range of issues that the film is dealing with I mean there’s all sorts of reasons that it demands that and I think you know um perhaps we’re guilty of this ourselves I mean some things actually don’t demand that and I think it’s very often I think where films fail is when there she are trying to roll out a story a bit too thinly and it doesn’t really sustain I mean you know every feature film yeah on the whole it’s usually kind of obvious I think that something it deserves that kind of space and that kind of you know demand on an audience to pay twenty dollars and go into a cinema and and spend a 90 minutes or longer at their time I mean we had the film the square here and that was a it’s about a hundred and ten minutes but it’s you know that’s a film about a three-year revolution I mean this is a huge huge story and you know I I can’t imagine telling that story in in an hour you know that would you think that story when it made a narrative feature could it have been a fiction film absolutely I mean one of the things that you know perhaps we should discuss now is to me I don’t actually see any particular difference between a good fiction film and a good nonfiction film and they both have the same demands you know and the same qualities and and that is you need a star you know every film has to have stars and we look for films that have stars whether they’re revolutionaries taking part in a world lifetime changing event or participants in a music competition or Russian dissidents trying to challenge a stay or you know the character and the quality of the character is absolutely the number one issue and so you know and I think I think good nonfiction filmmaking is looking for a bigger part good fiction film making is looking for those qualities as well it’s looking to be as realistic as possible so I mean I advise I do give to people making feature documentaries is you know you think of your poster your logline description the film everything as though it was a fiction film you know what how would you build it you know one man against the universe or you know these big grand terms you know I think that’s very helpful and as I said I think it works in Reverse as well for not for fiction films interesting no it makes total sense Neela’s what was it about gomorrah that made it work across film and TV i mean you know what qualities do you need to have in a stories that it can work across both formats it’s an interesting point he brought up and I was telling Mike before that gemara was actually invited to the Celina documentary film festival because their approach was realistic and because it was really important to us the way you tell the story the way you produce actually needs to be on the ground and close to reality because otherwise your drama won’t be believable and funny enough romantic Amin Allah has been sold in over 60 territories Kamara where around hundred and talking about global and international co-production this is not only a local production it’s hyperlocal because Kamara was not shot or Lin Italian it was shot with a Napolitan accent not only a Napolitan accent but a certain path around Naples where they speak a very specific dialect and one of our biggest issues was the language the first day I got the rushes I called the directors different of Solomon I told him Stefano you have an extra room in your house and he said no why because they will fire me and I will come and live in your house if we need to subtitle this series but he made a very strong point and there was a lot of work that went into keeping the original dialect inserting here and there a word that was close to the dialect but Italian to make it comprehensible because if we would have shot in Italian with a funny Napolitan accent it wouldn’t have been believable for the audience it would have been something else and I really believe this is a very strong point that ties in with documentaries you need it to be close to reality I think then there’s the drama construction side and I think compared to feature documentaries of feature films in in a drama series you have the great advantage that you can have many conflicts keep them

long as much as you want you can have really into depth with the characters of you’re serious whereas in a movie usually the conflict needs to be resolved by the end of the 90 100 minutes the drama is the opposite you want probably at the end of season 1 to close with another conflict because you know to take people to the next season and I think that is the reason why more and more people from the movie industry be that script writers or directors or actors are fascinated by drama series because good quality the high level of Rama Sirius from house of cards onwards allows you that kind of depth that with a movie due to a very banal time constraint you cannot have you can’t go into the backstory of the characters and good movies do there’s a limitation that ends in hundred twenty minutes okay if you’re terrence malick you take it 280 minutes but you’ll always find the movie director frustrated and he will always tell you that he had enough footage to edit a four hour movie now that unfortunately doesn’t work in a movie theater that’s why you need producers but you think there are some stories some films it just couldn’t be a TV series it’s just there’s not enough there to stretch it how to do a comedy turn into a series so I think it’s a lot about the strength of the characters and the drama you have in the stories I think probably from a technical point of view you could take any material and turn it into a series not probably not always successfully I think it’s a lot in the strength of the characters and the the weight of the drama you feel in a movie have to turn that into a movie but again that to us it has been it’s we didn’t look for movies to turn movies into series it just happened and you don’t necessarily need to do that we’re asking ourselves the same question we have a project right now that that the director is saying you know what but I can you know it’s a series I can make a movie out of it and and if it’s a movie I can make a series out of it you know they’re always excited about doing that but but you know we all know in the industry that writing for series is different from writing for you know a movie so it could apply I think you condense a series into a movie but it could be harder for us and it requires maybe more creative work to take a movie into a series especially after it’s been you know premiered or it’s been seen there are creative inputs that that makes them harder or requires different talents and and scripting requirement and production requirement and cause to take a movie into a series and it’s easier to take a series back into a movie in my opinion from my humble experience okay that’s interesting thank you I also want to talk a little bit about stories that travel and we have touched on this already and you’ve mentioned something that’s very reality based or even very regional can work could you talk about that a little bit more in terms of what is it exactly in a story that helps it transcend cultural barriers I’ve probably touched on this before and I will I will repeat again because it’s it’s my belief this is what are the basics of the and the basis of a story to travel it is to go beyond the local and the localities of the story it’s to touch upon humans what we have common things as humans that that makes us want to that makes us actually relate to a certain story so betrayal love hatred I don’t know bad guys kidnapping you know all these kind of international you know human themes makes them cross borders much easier than than a local culture specific story the more you run out of that the specifics of the culture in my opinion it will travel and resonate to more audience now from a festival standpoint and you know being seen in festivals and receiving awards that’s another story if we’re looking for a commercially viable product and a product that will be seen by millions and millions of people I think we need to look at we need to mirror that with with our audiences in my opinion for the exception of you know like for example Hollywood and you know having Tom Cruise on the top of Burj Khalifa I think that is you know that’s in Dubai but that’s that would resonate all over the world so that’s a simple example of you know how you can take your your production

beyond in my opinion just because we’re looking for the same things it’s it’s you know the the Joseph Campbell he spoke about that the journey of a hero there are 17 rules so if you if you follow these rules like and they were implemented by Star Wars and The Matrix which is finding we’re always looking to discover things that we have lost in the past as humans or things that we are beyond our nature ability to go after in the future so you go beyond your your being today so you either go back in the past or you go in the future so it’s nothing that is realistic to your day day to day life and that I think we see them in all these successful series and movies around the world that’s kind of driving factor in stories that travel yeah okay Neela’s what do you think just going back to the cultural specifics of vibe because obviously in both of your series there were things that were probably maybe even missed by international audiences that a local audience would understand do you think being too culturally specific would stop a project from traveling no I think the examples of commodity romance of communal estate the opposite have been really local hyperlocal and romanza has been sold in over 60 countries kamagra as I said is traveling Gemara was co-produced on the trust of the Romans Oh criminally products or Germany and France came in and confindence the project although it is very Italian so more of the opposite I’m scared about the new scenario we are now as a platform sky has a satellite television in Italy Germany and UK and we have been united in a big European platform and obviously we are asked to co-produce with our English colleagues and German and I’m really scared about these puddings that could come out of there I think you always need one country on the driver’s seat that has a very clear vision and that tells a story that is really close to your culture you can then export that now you can be clever about that we have a project now that is travelling it’s called the young Pope it’s written by award-winning director Sorrentino slag and abilities at the Oscar and that is a story of an American Pope who becomes Pope in Italy so it’s very telling but it obviously is a theme that can travel but it will be produced in Italy in a very Italian way it won’t become the American point of view of how Italy works so it will be shot in English but it’s gonna all be it’s Italian based the point of view is gonna be Italia I think that can work we have another story which is profilers meet Vatican if I can put it in a nutshell and again we’ll be co-producing that with effects in the United States in that case we have us showrunner but again the core of the story comes from an Italian book the whole research and production needs to be really credible and Italian because otherwise it’s gonna be those movies that used to work like under the Tuscan Sun it’s that point of view of Italy Pizza mandelino that people born of people want stories that are true so in my view if you want to develop international projects be really local about it and the very authentic it needs to be truthful and believable because the audience is getting more and more sophisticated they won’t believe something that looks fake so because they see more content from different parts of the world so they’re better at spotting when something’s not real I think they accept I mean again we art Gemara in the UK and it has been a success it was subtitled we have heard it in Germany and there Spiegel had a funny headline which was forget The Sopranos here come the Savastano switch is the gomorrah family but it tells you a bit let alone the business point of view and the fact that we sold it and got some money for it about how culturally it has been accepted to have something like that compared to the Sopranos which is HBO pick us I mean five years ago this was unheard of I mean the last thing Italy seems to export cars design and other things I’d rather not mentioned it’s ironic that a serious like kumara which tells the story about really negative side of Italy is what has become in the TV industry the exceptional case that involves really great Italian talent because I think the audience was fed up with getting that fake image of Italy so there is a case of something that tells the true story ok it’s not nice the nice sight of Italy

but it works besides the exception of Sorrentino winning the Oscar I would say yes we have we had a big issue there for sometimes because we are the country of the Fellini’s and Rossellini’s the next generation always tried to imitate those guys but those different times I truly believe that the maestro Fellini nowadays would have big problems producing what he used to produce so we had that gap where people try to imitate these great actors and I think we are now at the stage where we have an Italian director like Stefano sollima the director of our series and the u.s. industry is now asking for him he’s doing an international co-production now on the next book of Saviano zero zero zero which is all about drug dealing but on international level so that’s Mexico that’s us and there and I think he’s gonna be within the next five years one of the top names in the international industry and he was born as a genre action movie director who went into serious who understands the complexity of a serious witch and there’s another side of something we need to resolve is that so far you had the writers room the director and the editor and they were all separate rooms now what in the u.s. is the showrunner is something that we were missing in Europe someone who has the vision of a project so Stefan always one guy who can do that and he’s gonna have a future but he’s he managed to cut the umbilical cord from Fellini interesting thanks so Mike I just want to come back to you because your new project sounds very culturally specific it’s about something very local that probably doesn’t have much awareness outside as you explain it a bit more about that and perhaps we could watch the clip if you could just introduce it first and then we could watch the clip yeah justjust before we do that I just want to say I think we are living in an age where authenticity I think is really the key currency and clearly the dominance of Hollywood in post-war culture has is a culture of in Atlanta City I mean and I think we are returning to I mean people were always interested in other people’s culture I mean the Bible is is you know not exactly a Western invention and yeah it is a dominant source of literature etc and and you know the guitar is an Arabic instrument and yet it’s you know you tell that to an American and they would go so I think you know I think these are interesting times and I think globalization of media and all this stuff means actually we’re returning to authenticity now so we’re gonna show you a little clip of a film called the man behind the microphone and it’s a film about a legendary Tunisian composer and musician and singer who whose music really has has transcended his time and he’s very much still very dominant influence upon popular music today and I mean I think this is a universal story because because art is because music is because of the role that music plays in a culture is absolutely identical all over the world you know there’s not there’s not a place in the world I mean of course the Taliban tried to ban music and try to stop music but it actually they didn’t succeed in there even you know it music thrived under the Taliban even so I think that’s one of the kind of qualities I think this film represents so perhaps we could show you one minute a few years ago in a taxi in Paris I’d heard an uplifting Arabic song on the radio I was shocked when the Algerian driver told me the singer was the Frank Sinatra of Tunisia Eddie dreamy my own grandfather fairly well should the member Jim Ward 11 whole Aviva have been the lucky ones better be well as it he’d written over a thousand songs and fifty theater operators he’d been decorated twice by President Bourguiba for his contribution to Tunisian arts and culture Eddie had been prolific in his 81 years how would I not heard his music before if Eddie was heralded as father to his nation what did it mean for his family it was at this point I decided to find out who Eddie Sheen he was so Mike could you tell us a bit more about what made you want to do that story and and how you can see that traveling well I think I think that story like searching for sugar man you know again is a story about how how you can achieve such

greatness and yet it somehow be lost to to the world and you know I love the idea of recovering this this this this cultural treasure and and and and and clearly there are other elements to the story that I’m interested in he was he was married to a Jew which was obviously a relatively controversial thing but the relationship between Jews and Muslims within Tunisia is a really intricate relie interesting story I love the idea I mean Dizzy Gillespie they wrote night in Tunisia they wrote that because Tunisia was a hub for for jazz and for progressive music and so all these reasons I think and with of course two news years let’s say rebirth as a democratic and progressive society I think it’s a great time to be understanding its heritage in that way so for a number of reasons I think to me it’s it’s a universal story I’d like to comment on that piece and I think it’s very interesting it has two components in my opinion at least two components that takes it beyond the borders the local borders and takes the local content to international viewers you have religion which is across any border they you know the interfaith kind of dialogue and you have music these two themes alone can take the story beyond its local you know specificities so I think these that’s that’s like a great example of how you can take a local story to international to the international market that’s a good point to things that transcends cultural barriers shall we go back to talking about this region and again we touched on this early but what kind of stories travel around the region because obviously there are lots of cultural differences the Egyptian market is different to the Gulf is it difficult to find something that works across the whole pan-arab market and do you especially when you’re doing your formats do you localize them because it’s difficult to find something that travels the funny part is like when we say local when I say the word local there are two layers two local we say yeah local means pan-arab so 22 countries that’s local so that’s adopting the inter D the western side of content into the Arabic / majority Muslims because the Arab world is majority Muslims and we can’t take that out of the equation because culture and religion are very intertwined in this part of the region and we were still there and that goes back to the to the young Pope because if it was in the Pope it wasn’t it won’t be so easy in my opinion to take it worldwide so these themes are in are essential to to any kind of production to go beyond boundaries in the arab world i think we we have a lot of common things in many countries we many themes from women rights to freedom of speech to to corruption to the right of existence you know we have so many themes that really brings us together yet there are more and they are and it varies from a country to another where when you dig deeper you get more local and the more local you get in your treatment the more the more niche you become in your relevance so the themes really in the arab world we are looking in my opinion the most successful series nowadays and have been and continue to be and I think in search of as I see the lineup for the next couple of years they either talk about existing modern human rights or they talk about the legend of Arabs and Muslims in the past so that’s why we’re so key on historic Turkish series that talk about the the high times of the Islamic empire around the world yes indeed so these I think these two so the the past is something you know that we take pride into that we lost so we’re trying to resonate to and we’re trying to find it matters us that yeah we used to be at one point ruling the world you know we were so advanced in civil civil civil rules and in science in keeping the society in a progressive mode and the other part to the other theme in production is yeah the day-to-day life and the local specificities of each culture and each region and now in Egypt they’re talking so much about prison about things in prison and you see like more than one movie and TV series talking about what happens behind bars

and and what happens to these people in prison where in other countries they talk more about what happens inside the house they go inside the taboos where they were not allowed to be brought to the public right there’s a lot of social drama in the contemporary drama production yes we’re still in that more in that level than in the sci-fi or more in the you know the fiction we are in nonfiction mostly okay of interest was Gamora soul to this region either of the two series that you made would they play in this region or whether have censorship issues I know the Gamora they’re talking to a couple of broadcasters here but they haven’t closed yet idea so I would know but I know that there is an interest but that kind of subject matter sort of gangsters in the underworld is that something that generally do you think would be of interest here I live in East Asia and a lot of our film and TV production is all about this sub as you’re right bad guys are interesting do you think it would also work here it works here but it’s nitch so it’s it’s more you know yeah it’s a phone in channels and we most of our channels are free to air and family-oriented channels so the niche is becoming now and now more we’re seeing more and more growth of thematic channels and that’s where such movies would belong in my opinion I agree with you and I think probably where your industry’s now in in Italy niche is now becoming the new name public and so I guess this this will happen here also it will grow certainly there’s some themes that always work I think what you said about the young people and about these criminal families which is what Kimura is about and the input works is the conflict the characters at a certain point there’s this couple they’re sitting there and they’re talking about every day’s problems about the relationship about the Sun so it’s not obviously then their job is different than yours and mine because they said rock all over the world and they’re criminals but the emotions and the relationships are the same and I think that’s what makes it travel and work the young Pope okay the Pope is the cover but then it’s about a man his rise to power and his conflicts the war about power and maintaining power and his personal life he’s okay I want anticipate too much but that’s is what will make it be credible and that is what will make it travel and it’s already has interest of HBO us because that is the story so it’s easy to say we’re doing a fiction about the Pope so what that there’s been many of those but they are they have never been relevant internationally I think in Italy we probably had about over 50 pop fictions but they never travel to Paris right but is this quite a recent trend TV drama series in the local language that are travelling around Europe and further afield because my concept of the TV industry is that it is more local I’ve always covered future films and films travel in TV doesn’t but are you saying that that’s changing now that more and more local language TV content is traveling in general it is from from our experience not necessarily that’s a general trend I think there is a business necessity to put budgets together to make bigger productions I think we have to be really careful because as far as I’m concerned that could easily screw the nice things up that we’ve done so far because when you it’s very basic so far our editorial decisions where I sit have been a very short chain of command and now I have to do conference calls with my English colleagues and my chef so it’s a very practical matter and if you start to listen too much to what everything everyone has to say you lose your editorial focus so where we are at now which is something we agreed that we need to put budgets together but we have some projects where our English cousins will be driving and other projects will be sitting on the driver seat and leave creative freedom because I mean we’ve done and seem to marry too many euro products that didn’t work I remember the guys from The Borgias which has been a quite successful European series that was a German French co-production mainly and we went in at a certain point and I remember the guys telling me hey you want an Italian actor in there and I said no please don’t because hey if you put a very famous TV face and there it immediately will look like any other Italian fiction be I told them I don’t care whether the actor is Spanish French or Canadian as long as he works for the character that has been

written and as long as he’s believable to be a character that lived in those times in that environment so but we’re seeing more of these big international TV co-productions and you’re saying that’s because if the the financing it’s because the budget levels gone up and not because it’s being driven creatively I think there’s a interesting mix now I think cannot lose this producing zero zero zero which is the next Saviano book with the same creative team that has produced Gemara and we will go in and pre-buy we’re not participating from a creative point of view because we’re happy it’s going there what language should it be it’s an international production again because they’re shooting in the US and yeah but it’s driven by a French satellite platform and we will air it on our channel so it’s interesting because these projects now travel I think the necessity of all the satellite platforms is the same we all need productions that are really edgy a really high production value that drive subscriptions because at the end of the day our business is a subscriber business we’re free TV has big issues they still live off investment commercial investments we need to give something that in the end makes the difference at the end of the year when you have to renew your subscription be it the soccer which is still one of the main driver but that is changing as well be it a good drama or great entertainment show our audience need to say our this has been I watch these three shows they really made the difference I want to subscribe again I think it’s the quality that we’re all looking for here when we do co-productions especially with you know different markets we’re looking to bigger budget so we can get better quality and and expand on our storyline and be able to take it cross border so it’s co-production common in this region between different countries it is it is yes you’ll find a lot of an Egyptian with Anna Moratti or a Saudi channel with a Lebanese or with an Egyptian as well so there’s a lot of co-production we we live on co-production actually okay and you were talking about the danger of euro puddings has that become a danger do we have arab puddings lebanese actor in a syrian series or egyptian series does that of course a lot recently you will find five nationalities in one series but does it work it works because we speak the same language we speak the same language with the different dialects so as if you’re talking you know northern italy so southern italy’s in just one one series so that’s that’s big difference in an advantage for us in my opinion rights but each of these series are they’ve rooted in one specific market they’re not sort of traveling between all these different countries it’s just you have characters from different countries in one location they’re sold across the board across all they’re sold in Egypt they’re monetized across the region there are watch and scene and followed across the region because also the stars and you know the story and the stars are our cross borders so they do cross the border easily because the theme is also Arab theme so it is relatable to all the audience around the Arab world and we have many examples yes III think that yeah because of that because I think I think Europe is I heard that recently there is and like you’ve been encouraged to adjust you just confirmed it now that you’re going to move more towards producing with other European countries right that’s that’s happening now correctly yeah but I think there’s a different approach now than it was 10 years ago because I think the issues I came up with producers the network’s are aware of so again Bourjos we were not sitting on the driver’s seat it was French production and it worked in Italy so it’s that the I think it’s the editorial approach that is important yeah documentary is it quite common to do an international co-production and is that because of the financing or is it creatively driven for example with this project the chin is Ian’s project would that be a co-production yeah absolutely I mean I think we are living in an age where film is international commodity essentially and I think whether it’s documentary or fiction the incredible demand for great films and great series means that you know I think it’s inevitable will have an Arabic Breaking Bad and a you know I mean I think this is just a question of time because people want great stuff and and if people can make it they’ll buy and we are we are free from the the national broadcasting industry that we

we’ve all grown up in and it and it in many respects it’s failed to respond to this truth I’d say that’s true in Britain and Italy everywhere sorry the public public broadcast you know I mean so you know we have seen you know globalization has obviously it’s in my view its downside but in terms of culture I think it’s it’s it’s all upside and I think the market is absolutely demanding greater and greater quality and and and more engagement and it doesn’t care where these things come from you know and I think that’s very encouraging I think it’s very exciting and you know I mean this is the Dubai International Film Market it’s hard hard to imagine a film festival that isn’t international it’ll be insane I mean I know there are specific kinds of festivals but I mean we are this is what’s so wonderful I think about this medium and about the world today is that we are all sharing in this stuff and and can’t get enough of it you know so I think it’s good time to be a filmmaker one of the solutions that we’re trying to come up with as production companies and creative talent is we’re trying to actually have multiple casts and we have the same set same crew and we have the same story and we have just cast and cast out so that’s from different countries yes so we’re tapping into an international production right now so to avoid because people are tired of the dubbing in my opinion and the subtitling they just want more authenticity and more authentic approach so we are now working and it has been done we have experiences here that has been done where you know an Arab cast would go and do the scene come out and then the English cast would go and do the scene and then come out so that same story same I’ve worked yes it worked 30 30 years ago and we’re doing it again now and we are pioneering within a big international series that’s gonna that’s produced between the Middle East our company and Hollywood based company where will it shoot sorry where will it shoes it will shoot in multiple scenes button in multiple areas but primary in this region with two castes one English yes yes very interesting well I’m aware that we’re running out of time sorry Mike did you want to say something I think technology I think very interesting and in time to come your watch a film and you’ll select the language you want to hear it or watch it in I mean I think whether it’s dubbed or translated or you know I think that this work simply won’t be an issue in time to commen you know but what about everyone says in the North American market they’ll never read subtitles do you think that’s true because I know in Europe people are becoming more open-minded watching even in the UK’s people will watch subtitle Scandinavian dramas let’s see let’s see what the market would rather watch Gomorrah in you know subtitled something incredible than some lazy you know has been thing in English I think you know I think well we’re trying to we’ve been asked by The Weinstein Company who acquired the rights of Kimura for the US market to do a test and dump the first episode in English which is something unheard of because everyone in the American market will tell you we don’t watch something adapt I mean in Italy we have always other European countries dubbed movies coming from Hollywood so that’s actually part of the industry I think it’s let’s wait and see because it could be one of these preconceptions because if you do it right if it if it feels right to the US ear why not in the end if you think about it if it’s done properly and obviously in Italy we have a big dubbing industry the US are less used to do it so we’re dubbing it in Italy with the Italian company with us voices so it’s all new ground but it’s an interesting experiment I think you should take us as a case study take take our region as a case study because we you know media is not an industry yet it’s becoming an industry and we are used to subtitling and dubbed but we’re tired of because we’re distracted from the actual happenings in the actual scene and looking and reading as if you’re reading a newspaper so we’re tired of that so you know we’re distracted between the sub the accurate events and I don’t think that’s us that’s really sustainable that means that the production production standards will start dropping or there is a malfunction in the actual production industry in the US if they go from in my opinion you know local language with local casts to subtitling it will be in my opinion it’s it’s unless it’s something really really you know just beyond any expectations and must-see

piece it is one last question and I’m going to send it to the floor Mike you just mentioned lazy English free folks do you think there are any cases of local language content that’s been remade in English and it’s been successful any of you could you think of anything that has really worked local language content whether it’s Arabic or French or German or Italian it’s been remade in English successfully can we think of any examples well I mean I’m racking my brain was the godfather was an Italian book well I mean not a book film or TV series after table anyone here ah thank you actually I didn’t see the English movie so I can’t comment yeah the tricky one right okay so I’m gonna turn it to the floor now it does anybody have a question thank you do we have a mic hi I’m this is a slightly sort of odd question but I was just wondering about children’s content because that’s something that I’m involved with we’ve talked a lot about you know sort of TV series or adult content how does children’s content differ when you do production or are you doing product you know are you producing children’s content short content yeah children’s children’s children’s if you can’t hear me children’s content series or film the difference between children content and what we’ve discussing so far is that the question I was just wondering if you were producing or you are producing children’s content and what the difference is between what we talked about today and how you would go about doing children’s content okay we don’t produce but I live in a platform that has strong children packaged channels so we have this new channel can two networks you name it I don’t know from my experience there is international brands like the Teletubbies and when I used to watch the Teletubbies with my kids when they were young I always thought where someone took some really good drugs there so obviously drug taking is a good issue there’s strong brands and properties that work across the country but again the stuff we export a student content is tied to the Italian culture so Pinocchio has been sold in many countries and that’s really local I would think that 80% of the content we have for children is us content that we dub it’s Disney is that kind of stuff Barney is the most famous you know character I and Heidi yeah well Barney I think now is like rockin any more questions one thing we didn’t touch on actually is genre because we were talking very much about drama and very adult content but in terms of genre you know people always say well comedy doesn’t travel action and trailer can travel but comedy not I mean do you agree with that that you can’t find comedy concepts that can cross borders as I say I think the best stories and the best ideas are universal and I’m again you don’t ask me to think of an international comedy film that’s that’s transcended and but I mean I don’t know if you know if you know Borat for instance I don’t know how that traveled it would be interesting to know around the region I think you know and I think I think that there is some truth there because we all suffer for the same reasons but we laugh for different reasons I think culturally you watch an Italian comedy it’s not probably might not be too funny for an English audience and I think some English comedies that I used to watch from Fawlty Towers onwards I have me as a German who grew up in Italy and lived in UK yes but the Italian audience wouldn’t get it I think comedy is travels well in my opinion especially if it’s personality driven comedy not language intervene and we laugh at the you know common jokes I guess if it’s not cultural culturally relevant then we would laugh at them situation based comedy and that’s easy too you know for them to travel I think reality as well is another big Jean that

can travel Charlie Chaplin did quite well internationally that’s a very good point but he didn’t speak did he okay well I think unless do we have any more questions I think we’ll leave it at that point and I like your expression that we suffer for the same reasons but we laugh for different reasons thank you you