Set in the world of football, The Window is a brand-new series from ZDF Enterprises (ZDFE) and Fuji Television Network that marks the first-ever scripted TV co-production between Europe and Japan.
The drama/thriller is centered on the multi-billion-dollar business that surrounds the elite world of professional football. The series, created by James Payne, begins at the end of the English football season and concludes on the eve of a new season, following the ten tense weeks of the football transfer window.
Payne; Robert Franke, VP of ZDFE.drama; and Taka Hayakawa, director of worldwide production and business development at Fuji TV, spoke with TV Drama about how the ambitious series came together.
TV DRAMA: How did The Window come about?
FRANKE: It’s a unique project. Taka and I knew each other for quite some time, from previous business we had done. We had been saying that we wanted to create a Japanese-European co-production together, but we hadn’t found anything yet that was really interesting to us. Two years ago, Taka met with me at MIPTV and said, Why don’t we do something about football? I thought, Wow! That is genius!
We really liked the idea, but both of us are more on the business side [of the TV industry]. We needed help to put it together [creatively]. I knew Rolant [Hergert from Boogie Entertainment], a German producer, and I knew that he had personal ties to the football industry in Germany. He knows the business aspects inside and out, and since he’s also a producer, I thought he was the right guy for it. Roland brought the idea to James, and James got excited about it. We left everything else to him because he is the creative mind.
PAYNE: I’ve always loved football; I’m a big football fan. Doing football in a TV drama is tricky, though. It’s usually about cheering someone on to win the big game so that can get a bit samey after a while. I was thinking about how to get into the world of football, without just doing football. I had an idea to start the series at the end of the football season and follow across ten weeks the transfer window. The first episode will start at the end of the season, and the final scene in episode ten will essentially be the start of the following [football] season. Over the course of ten weeks, we’ll see the deals and choices footballers make around their futures.
It’s centered on two brothers, Jordan and Kieran, and their relationship. On the one hand, it looks at the big-money game; but fundamentally, it’s a human drama. It’s about those two things colliding.
TV DRAMA: What is it about the world of football that makes it ripe for a Fuji TV drama?
HAYAKAWA: In Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Delhi—all over Asia—people are talking about the European Champions League. It’s a new phenomenon. When I was a kid, everybody talked about baseball; now, it’s football. There is great momentum. Everybody is interested in the behind-the-scenes of the global football ecosystem—males, females, kids, adults. It’s a good time for a drama production.
TV DRAMA: Why was doing the series as a Japan-Europe co-pro so important?
FRANKE: First and foremost, it had to do with Taka bringing me the idea and us wanting to do something together. We wanted to bridge the continents and find a project that could work everywhere. Football is the perfect canvas for that. Fuji and ZDF Enterprises initiated the project, but it’s very U.K.-driven. James is the creative mastermind behind everything. We wanted it that way because the Premier League is [regarded as] the most important football league in the world. We wanted to make sure that we got the story right, tapping into the right themes. It is a co-production in the sense that we pooled the money together, but since it’s something that’s so universal we see each other more like initiators. It’s really special; I have never worked on something like this before.
HAYAKAWA: I totally agree with Robert’s point of view. When you’re in the hyper-competitive world of thousands of TV shows, you have to really go for it. Our focus is on having [a show that’s] the best of the best, the crème de la crème. It needs to be contemporary and fresh. It’s an inspiring global creative challenge, and I’m super confident that this is it!