Intaglio Films & ndF IP Prep The Swarm


Intaglio Films and ndF International Production’s eight-part environmental thriller The Swarm has commenced production in Italy.

Based on Frank Schätzing’s bestseller, the series chronicles the struggle of humankind against an unknown swarm intelligence that lives in the depths of the sea. When the reckless treatment of the oceans threatens the natural habitat of this mysterious collective, it strikes back, leaving human life in danger and the fate of the world in the hands of a small group of scientists.

Multi-Emmy Award-winning producer and Intaglio Creative Director Frank Doelger (Game of Thrones) is executive producing Germany’s first English-language series together with ndF IP’s managing director Eric Welbers. The European Alliance headed by ZDF, France Télévisions and Rai is co-producing The Swarm alongside ORF, SRF, Scandinavia’s Nordic Entertainment Group and Hulu Japan. Shooting in Italy is scheduled to wrap in August and move to Belgium for the underwater filming. ZDF Enterprises and Beta Film are handling worldwide sales.

The Swarm is directed by Luke Watson (Britannia, Ripper Street), Barbara Eder (Barbarians, Thank You For Bombing) and Philipp Stoelzl (The Physician, North Face). The scripts are written by Steven Lally (Strike Back), Marissa Lestrade (Deep State) as well as Chris Lunt and Michael A. Walker (Young Wallander, Devils). Mark Huffam (The Martian, Game of Thrones, Saving Private Ryan), Ute Leonhardt (Killing Eve, Eat Pray Love, Sex and the City), author Frank Schätzing and Till Groenemeyer are serving as executive producers, with Friedemann Goez (Intaglio, The Same Sky) and Charlotte Groth (ndf IP) producing.

The international cast of The Swarm includes Cécile de France (The New Pope), Alexander Karim (The Lawyer), Leonie Benesch (Babylon Berlin, The Crown), Barbara Sukowa (Hannah Arendt), Takuya Kimura (2046, I Come With the Rain), Krista Kosonen (Blade Runner 2049), Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Game of Thrones), Takehiro Hira (Giri/Haji), Lydia Wilson (Flack, Black Mirror), Joshua Odjick (Unsettled), Eidin Jalali (Para-We Are King), Jack Greenlees (Star Wars—The Last Jedi), Dutch Johnson (Veep, Navy CIS:LA) and Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Star Wars: Rogue One).

The Swarm is produced by Intaglio Film and ndF IP through the joint venture Schwarm TV Productions GmbH & Co KG for ZDF, France Télévisions, Rai, ORF, SRF, Scandinavia’s Nordic Entertainment Group and Hulu Japan, co-produced with Bravado and in association with Viola Film. The series has the support of Creative Europe, the media program of the European Union and is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of the German Motion Picture Fund.

Frank Doelger, executive producer for Intaglio, said: “Adapting The Swarm for television provided several creative challenges, one of the most exciting of which was to reimagine the characters to reflect the increasing diversity of the scientific community. This allowed us to put together a cast which I believe would have been unimaginable in 2004 when the novel was written.”

Eric Welbers, executive producer ndF International Production, said: “The variety of settings we are able to depict in Italy is incredible: from Canada to Peru to Norway and more. We are pleased that, among other things, this will allow us to contribute to a green production, which lies very close to our hearts and will additionally enrich the series in the end. It helps that much more is possible in post-production these days. In our case, it will be an exciting marathon with many elaborate visual effects to stage for animals on land and in the water, the natural catastrophes and ‘the swarm’ itself.”

Executive Producer Mark Huffam said: “I’m delighted to be working with Frank [Doelger] again and excited to be working on such a highly ambitious European TV series. I was immediately drawn to the immediacy of the stories underlying themes of the world’s destruction and conservation. Having worked in the past on several projects to present extra-terrestrial intelligence on screen, to bring alive another intelligence from the oceans has been a welcoming challenge for all.”

Frank Schätzing, author of the novel and executive producer, commented: “It was important to me that we don‘t simply adapt The Swarm for the screen, but rather modernize it. An interpretation for the days to come that puts the lives, fears and hopes of younger generations center stage. That’s what Frank Doelger and I have worked on as a team, with great support from the ZDF, which initiated the project. Without their great dedication, our project would not exist. The scripts are written, now actors, directors, DOPs and visual effects artists are taking over. And I will likely sneak onto set, to maybe play a fish.”

Dr. Norbert Himmler, chief creative officer at ZDF, said: “More than 15 years after the publication of The Swarm the ecological crisis is still one of the most pressing global challenges. Therefore, it is especially important for us to adapt this highly relevant topic for the screen as a major German-led international project. For the European Alliance between France Télévisions, Rai and ZDF, this high-end series is by far the largest co-production to date, uniting talent as well as expertise across national borders. Like the book, the series will hopefully entertain people around the world while also teaching all of us about our responsibilities.”

Frank Zervos, co-producer for The Swarm at ZDF, added: “After three years of intense preparation and a year of delay due to the Covid-19 crisis, the film adaptation of The Swarm is finally getting off the ground. The series will be state-of-the-art: emotional, close to the present, diverse, as well as scientifically and technologically up to date. In doing so, we want to create a feeling that the story is happening here and now, not in some future. That’s what creates the special ‘thrill’. We are very pleased to have gathered a great team for this: in addition to author Frank Schätzing and Executive Producer Frank Doelger, Barbara Eder, Luke Watson and Philipp Stölzl as directors.”