Mediapro’s Daniel Burman, Atresmedia Studios’ Ignacio Manubens and Rai’s Michele Zatta spoke about how their companies are looking to deliver distinctive, high-quality originals in a MIP Cancun panel moderated by World Screen’s Anna Carugati.
Manubens, chief content director at Atresmedia Studios, referenced the competitive Spanish fiction sector, both in prime time and daytime. “For the last five or six years, all of our product has been consistently traveling very well internationally. That’s what defines the drama we do now. Thanks to SVODs, [there are] things like what happened with La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), which was a worldwide hit. A lot of the things happening now in Spain also have to do with that big hit.”
Burman is today the head of content for the U.S., Mexico and Central America at Mediapro after the Spanish company invested in his Argentina outfit Oficina Burman. “We’re a creative hub that takes a lot of talent from Spain, which is very important in Latin America,” he said.
Zatta is commissioning editor at Italian broadcaster Rai, which has had a much more global approach to its drama output over the last few years. “We thought, we have to compete now with Netflix, Amazon and other monsters, so what should we do? We decided to invest a lot in creativity. That’s why we’re investing a lot in our best IPs, such as The Name of the Rose and My Brilliant Friend. We are producing for three channels, each [with a distinct] editorial line.” Zatta is primarily responsible for projects on Rai 2, “telling stories with international appeal and that try to bring back the youngsters to the public broadcaster.”
Zatta is at MIP Cancun this week because he believes there are “many strong bonds between Italy and Latin America.”
Manubens talked about what Atresmedia Studios can offer commissioning broadcasters and production partners outside of Spain. “We trust in what we do. We’ve made two shows this year, The Pier and Little Coincidences. We try to have good stories. We are really obsessive with stories. We put a lot of time into working on a concept. We’re very hard-working. If a story has potential, we want to make it as good as possible.”
He added, “I’m finding really good talent [in Latin America]—producers, writers. We have a solid ground at Atresmedia, and what we can add is to make those stories more powerful and find a way to produce them, either through a sale or we can co-finance.”
Burman discussed the opportunities he’s seeing in the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets. “I think there is a huge opportunity in Latin America given the amount of content consumption. There is also a misguided supply and demand. I’m convinced that the first thing we have to do in order to improve the quality of our market is eliminate the fear in executive decisions on both sides. I think the current content demand is on a very primary level. Perhaps I’m going off on a tangent here, but we’re not really having a conversation on our responsibility with the time we’re taking up. We’re in a business that they say will be valued [at] $20 billion in the coming years and I don’t know how many billions of hours we’re occupying people with. But we have to analyze this great opportunity we have.”
Zatta talked about Rai’s co-production experience. “We have a tradition of co-production with two countries in particular: France and Germany. We relaunched this triangle by creating an alliance with ZDF, France Télévisions and Rai, in order to develop projects from scratch. The best way to co-produce is starting from the beginning, so the input is always welcome. The alliance…[allows us to be] stronger against the global competitors.”
He continued, “We are opening up to the world. We are speaking about a project with Daniel [Burman] with an Israeli showrunner. We have a project from a Flemish showrunner. So we are extremely open. We think the best way to develop a series is to get talent, wherever it is. We would love to work with Spain more, Latin America; we are totally open. Our basic idea is, send us three pages with the heart of the idea and let’s start to speak about it.”
He noted that the projects that would be considered for Rai “need a strong link to Italy.”
Atresmedia is also open to co-productions and Manubens is at MIP Cancun looking for good stories. “It doesn’t matter where they take place,” but they should be “culturally relevant.” Having a more international outlook, he says, “liberates you… More than thinking with an international outlook, it’s thinking about human connections, telling stories that are relevant from a human perspective.”
Burman said that Mediapro is “looking for complex stories, with many layers, with tridimensional characters with genuine emotions that move us.”
Carugati asked about the importance of having international stars in shows in order to help them travel. Zatta commented, “In the end, the story wins. If the story is so good, so touching, so intense, then the story is stronger than the cast.”
The conversation then moved to SVOD platforms. For pubcaster Rai, Zatta said the biggest issue is that the likes of Netflix are “taking away our best talent. We raise them up, let them grow and then they go away!” To fight that, Rai has launched a training program for drama series writers. “The average age is 22. They grew up with American series, European series, and they have that in their DNA. As a public broadcaster we have to launch talent and to give talent a chance.”
Rafael Blanco, the associate editor of TV Latina, contributed to this article.