LEONINE Studios’ Patrick Phelan

***Image***Patrick Phelan, director of world sales at LEONINE Studios, tells TV Drama about the drama trends he sees in the current market.

Three years ago, LEONINE Studios acquired Dark producer W&B Television, adding to its pipeline for high-quality scripted that is also fed by Odeon Fiction. Today, it is delivering high-profile international productions across English and local languages that are making an impact on streamers and linear channels alike.

TV DRAMA: What’s guiding the drama strategy at present?
PHELAN: Our strategy is focused on high-profile international productions. This includes English-language productions as well as local ones. The package is key: great stories combined with great talents behind and in front of the camera.

We’re looking for content that offers viewers something exceptional, like an exotic and exciting new look, unique storytelling or a story that hasn’t been told before.

TV DRAMA: Tell us about the producer pipeline that feeds the LEONINE Studios worldwide sales slate.
PHELAN: We have established two streams of content: We fill our slate with high-profile productions coming from our LEONINE Studios production banners Odeon Fiction (Spy City, Bonn, The Seed) and W&B Television (Pagan Peak, Blackout—Tomorrow is Too Late, Dark) on a project-by-project basis. At the same time, we are establishing relationships with producers from around the world, like the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Scandinavia, Spain, Israel and Belgium, for example.

TV DRAMA: What drama genres are in particularly high demand at the moment?
PHELAN: Genre-wise, it is all about thrilling crime stories, true stories and young adult edgy, satirical dramas. Especially digital providers have a very clear view of viewing habits and are steering their content choices based on their data. In addition, escapism and female characters are at the forefront, reflecting the current zeitgeist with a focus on female empowerment, diversity and entertainment to distract from the harsh realities we’re all facing as consequences of the coronavirus pandemic or political conflicts around the world.

TV DRAMA: What opportunities are you finding with streamers today for non-English-language dramas?
PHELAN: The opportunities for non-English-language dramas with high production quality are phenomenal. Our Netflix original series Dark produced by LEONINE Studios’ production banner W&B Television is among the most popular shows on Netflix to date. Other examples, like the Korean superhit Squid Game or the Spanish series Money Heist, are all proof of local content resonating with audiences worldwide. The streamers have enabled the rise of non-English-language content, and there is not much of a difference compared to the current demand from linear broadcasters when it comes to dramas.

TV DRAMA: Why is now a particularly good time to be in the global drama business?
PHELAN: The opportunities are constantly growing. Established markets are evolving, and new platforms are entering the market. There is a healthy appetite for content and a great potential for further growth.

TV DRAMA: What are you focusing on for LEONINE Studios’ drama slate in the 12 to 18 months ahead?
PHELAN: We’re working on expanding our relationships with great producers around the world, adding more completed high-profile dramas in the sought-after genres to our slate. And we’re concentrating on the launch of two brand-new series: Bonn, our political thriller based on true events around a young woman who struggles to find her own place in a male-dominated society in the 1950s and the political tug-of-war between Germany’s two rivaling intelligence services; and The Seed, our high-profile English-language eco-thriller series centered around the Global Seed Vault in Spitsbergen. Both series are produced by LEONINE Studios’ production banner Odeon Fiction, which also brought us the internationally acclaimed series Spy City for the German broadcast network ARD.