Gary Lucchesi, David Bernad, William Horberg, Danna Stern, Nicola De Angelis, Lucia Gervino and Roberto Sessa
In the last day at AVPSummit, experts producers and global hits content creators revealed how to develop and produce innovative and surprising series designed for a global audience. The Global Content Executive Danna Stern was Managing Director of Israeli company Yes Studios during 20 years, and she has produced the global series "Fauda" and "Shtisel"; and the epic series "The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem". "All those shows were developed for a local audience, for a local market, for a local platform. They were actually developed in-house, fully financed, never thinking that they were going to cross barriers and become global hits," she admitted. "We were making these shows for the audience that we knew and the language that we knew," she added. "We just had great timing and hopefully a wonderful product when Netflix launched globally and kind of opened up the marketplace. Now our market is completely different. People start off pitching us by saying, this is a global show, this is perfect for Netflix but I don't work for Netflix. I don't want to say that we're not thankful and grateful to that platform for changing everything that we all do, but there's also a price of that," she said. Lucia Gervino, Head of Production at A&E Studios remarked A&E is an independent studio very well respected. "All of our principals and our entire team has dozens of years of experience and their own individual successes through dozens of years coming from cable", she said. "The benefit of being an independent studio that is well funded and open is that everybody loves what we're doing, and we're open to a conversation with the producers and we are looking for long-term relationships and partnerships with them," she pointed out. Nicola De Angelis, Co-CEO and Head of Development and International Coproductions of Fabula Pictures ("Baby", "Longlegs") affirmed that to develop and produce a content for global audience is extremely complicated. "We live in a time when a local show can become global thanks to technology, thanks to platforms, thanks to anything that is happening around our business, which is not simple to describe as a distributor," he asserted. "The previous problem we were having in a previous life, which is far away from now, but it's coming back your way in an order, it's how to develop something that might travel, that might being sell," he commented. "We need to tell stories of people, characters, human disgrace and the best way to understand audiences is to be within the audiences, not in this bubble of our business environment. It's extremely important to focus on audiences, more than the show itself," he advised.
As a bridge between Italy and United Stated, AVPSummit had an entired American panel where experts explore the colaboation between the US and Europe in projects that can cross borders. Arvand Khosravi, SVP Head of Scripted Television Strategy of Fifth Season mentioned that he's in international person."I have Iranian parents, I was born in France, moved to America later in life when I was a kid, so I always had an eye towards international content, but also the power of American content abroad," he said. "I also thought that it'd be horribly arrogant for us Americans to sit and think, we are the best storytellers, the best stories come from America. No, there are traditions of centuries and millennia, certainly in Iran as well, of storytelling in that tradition, and it's only a matter of time before that storytelling, no matter where it comes from, reaches the television set. And so that's what got me interested in the international co-production model, international stories," he explained. Dave Brown, Partner of Echo Lake Entertainment said that he started off as an agent and then went into management, so he was also pursuing talent and storytellers from around the world, and "it seemed like there were opportunities to go and discover, he noted". "When the language borders broke down, people started saying, well, we need to compete with the streamers, we need to figure out how to put together a bunch of shows that can take on Netflix. It just seemed like a great opportunity to get out there and take advantage of the changing landscape," he admitted.
Ted Miller, Head of Global Television Creative Agency of Creative Artists Agency, said that when he started in the US business, it was very similar to almost every country's business. "There were three primary buyers, three and a half buyers, and if we counted Fox, and it felt like a big business, it was all we knew in television, but it's grown, And as it's grown, as it's shifted, as cable evolved, as streaming evolved, so I look for the opportunities in an international level," he asserted. "As I developed relationships with people in the international market around those two premise, producers and artists, the opportunity started shifting because primarily because of global, there were some co-productions happening, but primarily as the global streamers evolved, and we all know the story of Netflix originating content, I asked the producers who I developed a long relationship with,if they would allow me to help them navigate the new, the kind of more chaotic life they were living. Everyone was tempted to do it, but ultimately over time we succeeded. And I decided it was really important for us and our strategy," he explained. "I love content, I love the storytelling, and I really want those projects to find a path. So if it's sometimes it's putting pieces together, it's packaging those projects, sometimes it's finding an individual artist for a project, sometimes it's finding the intellectual property that is the beginning of the process. And ultimately, then the financing or whatever the project needs. So that's my path," he concluded. Melissa Myers, President and Partner of Kinetic Content mentioned she loves travelling and meet new people from all walks of life. "After college, I started travelling a lot and I learnt we all share the same stories, we all laugh and cry and I just found that there are so many stories to tell, and we were working and living in America, we were so American-centric, and then technology just exploded the world because it was so hard to get access, whether it was smaller art house films or couldn't get TV shows from around the world," she pointed out. "It's just about to find and tell great stories and people will watch them," she said.
In a relax and funny conversation, Tony Vinciquerra, Chaiman and CEO Sony Pictures Entertainment and Tarak Ben Ammar, Owner of Eagle Pictures Entertainment mentioned the partnership they have signed, that include Eagle Picture as distributor of Sony films in Italy and Sony as developer of Italian IP's through Eagle Pictures. "We signed an agreement where Eagle Pictures and we've had been a pretty good run together, I think, over the last several months, despite the curves. We shot 'Equalizer', I'm very excited about that, and we're producing films entirely in Italian language." confirmed Vinciquerra. "We are now adapting the film 'My Best Friend's Wedding' in Italian and we are giving them Italian IPs that they acquired to adapt in four countries. So Sony is a real partner in distribution and production for us," asserted Tarak Ben Ammar. In the panel both executives highlighted the talent, the landscape, the tax credit and crew that Italy has. "In Italy you can find everything you need, beautiful landscapes, financial opportunities, excellent crew", said Vinciquerra. "Italy is the most beautiful set in the world and the tax credit is key as well as its crews," added Tarak Ben Ammar.
Talking about the differentiator element of Sony, Vinciquerra noted that the company chose years ago does not to develop a general entertainment subscription video service, because "it was obvious what was going to happen. Platforms were going to be spending enormous amounts of money to compete with each other for subscribers. And they could see very clearly that it was not going to be a short-term profitable business program. So we decided to produce for everybody. We produce TV shows and films for every one of the subscription services around the world, and it's been a fabulous business for us, we're a strategic supplier for streaming services" he affirmed. "But that business is changing now, because the streaming services have begun to look at the business as a business, so we've been expanding our business in different ways. For instance, we bought Crunchyroll, which is a combination of a business we built called Funimation, and we're using it together now," he indicated.
SPOTLIGHT ON: FINAL PART
The focus on the third AVPSummit day was on Netflix, and its Italy's original scripted and unscripted production with the presence of Tinny Andreatta, VP of Italian original series, Giovanni Bossetti, Manager Italian Unscripted and Doc Series and Filippo Rizzello, Creative Executive at Netflix Italy. Andreatta mentioned that after her professional career in distribution and then as manager of Rai Fiction, she now works "in the best company where you can be". "Netflix provides many opportunities for stories and allows great development for the audiovisual industry," she said. Andreatta also said that Netflix has a unique model based on the original production. "It is a global platform, but it contains a great plurality of voices from all the international productions that it develops" she pointed out. Andreatta also highlighted that Netflix's editorial line is based on several principles. "Taking into account that the Netflix audience is always more demanding and more and more accustomed to serialization of TV, Netflix Italy develops stories with Italian authenticity, and taking into account the geographical variety, and, on the other hand, we approach this from contemporary content and for this reason the fundamental element is diversification, from fiction series like 'Suburra' to animation with 'ZeroCalcare'", said the executive.
Filippo Rizzello said that when Netflix Italy chooses a story it takes into account two important elements, "one is the identity places, which are themselves characters in the story and the second element is the original themes, which are difficult to find, but we understood that it is important to challenge the viewer with contemporary themes," he said. For his part, Giovanni Bossetti, Manager Italian Unscripted and Doc Series at Netflix, assured that the platform generated a change in the unscripted content. "We work with people, not characters, but Netflix does it in a way that unscripted content is also very entertaining," he said. As an example, the executives presented the teaser for "Vasco Rossi - Il Supervissuto.", the biopic of the singer Vasco Rossi that will be released soon on the platform.
By Romina Rodriguez from Trieste