22 JAN 2021

NATPE 2021: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STORY WHEN CO-PRODUCING

Rola Bauer, President of International Television Productions at MGM; and Christina Davis, President of Original Programming at Starz, discussed about co-productions and the importance of the narrative during NATPE’s final day.

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NATPE Virtual Miami began its final day with another “BIG Opening”. In today’s session, entitled “Is Co-pro The Way To Go?,” Rola Bauer, President of International Television Productions at MGM; and Christina Davis, President of Original Programming at Starz, analyzed the challenges and benefits of international co-productions in the current marketplace, and also emphasized in the importance of the narrative.

When starting a conversation about co-production, Bauer explained that she usually handles herself in the same way. “I always say: ‘tell me about the story, tell me what would you like to do with this narrative, tell me as much as possible about the setting, the characters, the art. Then, I will help you to figure out the path forward. It always start with the narrative,”  she said.

Both executives agreed that “it all start with the story”. In that sense, Bauer believes that “the more diverse and the more intriguing in terms of the characters, the more it transcends the boundaries and make all connect with the story, from wherever people watch the show”.

Consulted about what has changed during the pandemic, Bauer indicated that, for her, the biggest change is the number of streamers available today. “Just look at how many streamers we had in 2019 and how many we have today. All of those streamers now are about to be international, like HBO Max. That is the biggest change that we have seen,”  she assured.

Analyzing which strategy is better, whether to launch productions domestically or internationally, Davis commented that she used to have “domestic blinders on,” as her previous job in CBS was only focused in the United States. “My philosophy back then was: keep your eyes on the prize, develop domestic content and worry about international later,”  she related, admitting that vision changed a lot when she joined Starz.

Lastly, Bauer and Davis were asked to give some advice to people coming up in the business. “You just got to get out there and do it. If you are a writer, write. If you are an actor, act. Do what you like to do and get it out there. Let your voice be heard,”   Davis said. “Do not be afraid to propose. Go to a place where you have people who encourage you to propose and have your voice heard,”  Bauer added.

The more diverse and the more intriguing in terms of the characters, the more it transcends the boundaries and make all connect with the story” Rola Bauer President of International Television Productions at MGM