12 OCT 2021

Ekaterina Efanova: "Modern Russian drama has worldwide class"

The Drama Producer at TV Channel Russia describes the local production landscape and talks about the company’s new titles for Mipcom.

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Ekaterina Efanova

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Sovtelexport, the sales arm of Russia Television and Radio, is gaining ground in the global content arena with impressive dramas starred by strong female characters with tragic and challenging life situations, as well as unique and non-linear plots. Señal News spoke with Ekaterina Efanova, Drama Producer at TV channel Russia, to describe the company's production pipeline.

▸  What are Sovtelexport's new shows for Mipcom?

"We will present new titles such as 'Cloister' series, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Zakhar Prilepin. It is a poignant and shocking love story unfolding on the background of the horrors of the Solovetsky special purpose camp in the Russian post-Civil War era. Moreover, the feature film 'Elsa's Land' is a moving love story of the 70-year-old Leonid and Elsa. Their families disapprove of their love, which leads to a tense confrontation between generations. Finally, the series 'The Lockdown,' which was initiated in the pre-Covid times but turned out to be prophetic, centers on the idea that any pandemic will end and the people's primary goal is to preserve eternal human values, such as love, friendship, and commitment to principles".

▸  What specific trends do you observe in the global drama arena?

"Current international trends include the role of a strong and independent heroine; acts of heroism committed by an ordinary person; weak characters that decide to fight any life's challenges; and, finally, the shift from a masculine to a humanistic perception of reality. Russia Television and Radio is keeping up with the trends without trying to flatter the audiences. Our series always have a strong female character, with difficult and tragic life situations and unique and non-linear plots. For example, 'Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes,' 'Desperate Wives,' 'Call Me Mother,' and our hottest show, sold to 144 countries, 'Ekaterina'. Modern Russian drama series has worldwide class. We can even surprise international audiences with something fresh and exciting'”.

▸  What factors are shaping the global drama business?

"Undoubtedly, such a tragical large-scale events as Covid-19 leave a mark on the world, including the content industry. It naturally influences the production processes. Soon, we will witness many studios addressing that kind of society's needs and highlighting such topics as living and surviving when the future is fragile and uncertain. We will witness a new character's journey during the catastrophe and crises. The companies that will help viewers deal with these problems will have a higher demand in the next five years".

▸  How do you analyze the evolution of Russian content during the pandemic?

"The pandemic crucially affected the shooting process. We were not ready for the restrictions and lockdowns. However, it did not take much time for Russia Television and Radio to adapt to the situation and the new context for production. We made subtle changes to the production strategy. We agreed to reduce the number of hours of produced content per year and increase the number of hours for the more popular series. That was the case of period dramas that mixes incredible costumes with thrilling plots, such as 'Ekaterina,' 'Godunov,' 'Sophia', and 'The Terrible'. Those shows are expensive, but they are very welcomed and achieve high ratings and positive audience discussions. When the pandemic situation becomes more stable, we will start producing more modern content, with deep psychological titles and exciting and unique characters, such as 'Blackout' series. It is way too soon to refer to our titles as 'evolutionary' since the pandemic started not that long ago. Still, it is safe to say that our content-making process is flexible and multifunctional. There is still progress to be made and new decisions to be found, even during these challenging times".

By Romina Rodríguez