20 APR 2023

Françoise Guyonnet: “Drama series need to feel natural and authentic”

Françoise Guyonnet, Executive Managing Director TV Series at Studiocanal, explains what led the company to invest in UK production house Birdie Pictures and describes the evolving approach to drama shows.

20 APR 2023

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As one of the leaders in production, distribution, and international sales from Europe, Studiocanal is trying to expand its global footprint even more, with investments such as the one made recently in UK production company Birdie Pictures and the development of new titles. Françoise Guyonnet, Executive Managing Director TV Series at Studiocanal, described this strategy.

▸  What led Studiocanal to invest in UK production house Birdie Pictures?

"Studiocanal has been pleased to invest in a further UK producer. Birdie Pictures was recently launched by Phil Temple, an extremely talented writer, director, and producer with a real gift for bringing the page vividly to life on the screen. He has worked with many UK broadcasters and has close relationships with many authors and writers. With global intentions for his projects, we know Phil will bring a strong line-up of relatable English language programming to us to share with the international market."

▸  What is the company's current approach when it comes to drama titles?

"Drama series need to feel natural, authentic, and not driven only by financial reasons. We encourage creative input from all partners to make sure the project resonates internationally by keeping its original DNA. International co-production allows for bigger budgets with more ambition, creating local stories with global appeal. The audience is becoming more demanding with strong competition, and therefore global co-productions need to come together for creative reasons."

▸  Do you observe any particular trend regarding stories or characters?

"Demand is still very strong for good drama, and Studiocanal has much to be proud of. We are seeing more movie talent looking to create their first TV series, such as Thomas Vinterberg's 'Families Like Ours.' Strong and diverse character-led productions are also popular, such as our series 'Conviction' and 'Spinners,' which will debut at MIPTV. Audiences want to see action-packed series with a dramatic appeal, and we will launch 'The Brigade' in Cannes. True crime continues to be a hot trend internationally, and our series 'The Chevaline Killings: Finding the Missing Piece' has been selected for the Documentary Series Competition at Canneseries. Of course, feel-good dramas and comedy series are in demand too, and our series' The Orchestra' from Denmark is making some solid international sales. Short-form drama series that are 12/15 minutes long are also finding pleasing audiences, and we are launching the third series of 'About Last Night' at MIPTV too."

▸  What would you say is the benefit of Studiocanal’s English language programming slate?

"We work across multiple territories with many leading producers and creatives across different languages. We value our English language programming and are delighted to have been able to offer such successful examples as 'Django,' 'It's a Sin,' 'Years and Years,' and 'War of the Worlds' to our international clients. We are adding to our English language portfolio with brand new programming from UK production companies such as Red Productions, SunnyMarch, Urban Myth, Studiocanal, and Birdie Pictures."

▸  Do you think the stories' language or country of origin stopped being a barrier for the viewers?

"Series with a message and an engaging storyline work hard globally. Universal stories told well appeal to a wide audience, no matter what language they are in. Streaming platforms have opened up the market for non-English language programming, and that trend is here to stay."

By Federico Marzullo