Nicola Söderlund, managing partner at Eccho Rights, talks to TV Formats about the titles on the company’s slate that are generating interest from international producers for format adaptations.
Set within a therapist’s office, the psychological drama The Red Room explores the stories of the patients who pass through its doors—from victims of childhood abuse, domestic violence and sex crimes to those confronting more unusual traumas. Through their sessions, the patients come to understand the roots and causes of their behavior, emotions and overall psychological state. Produced by OGM Pictures in Turkey, the series on Eccho Rights’ slate is generating significant interest from international producers, according to Nicola Söderlund, managing partner at Eccho Rights.
The Red Room “is not a typical Turkish drama in the sense that it doesn’t have a linear story with a central romance,” says Söderlund. “The concept has really struck a chord, with a number of international broadcasters and producers showing strong interest in adaptation rights.”
Also sparking interest for international adaptation is Honour, which is set to launch its second season in Sweden this year. “Following four female lawyers who work with victims of sexual abuse, the series arrived in the wake of the #MeToo movement and continues to tackle relevant and contemporary issues,” says Söderlund.
The scripted-format genres that continue to prove the most attractive for broadcasters are crime series and thrillers, which boast more universal appeal than those centered on romance, according to Söderlund. “A crime [story]—good vs evil—is the most universal thing we have and tends to work across borders, regardless of cultural differences or similarities. Even more so than a love story, which can look very different from country to country.” There’s also a growing market for slightly lighter fare. “There is a trend toward escapism, be it blue-sky drama or something more paranormal or mystery-based, like many of the crime dramas we see coming from South Korea.”
Across the board, the global formats industry is in a good position, with a marked rise in international script adaptations over the last few years. “With so much TV drama being commissioned, the demand for fresh ideas is leading producers and broadcasters abroad,” Söderlund explains. But while the ongoing pandemic has thankfully not led to production coming to a complete standstill, it has shifted it into a lower gear. “With production and new commissions on hold for much of the year, producers and creatives have been putting their time to use on new ideas and writing,” says Söderlund. “The demand for international scripts has slowed down somewhat.”
A bright spot on the horizon, however, is the streaming landscape, and the battle for content that wages on between them as they continue to multiply. “With such fierce competition among new platforms aiming to take hold in local markets, they have to quickly create content for those domestic markets,” notes Söderlund. “Local adaptations of successful scripts make perfect sense for them, so this is fantastic for us in the industry of adaptation.”
In the end, Söderlund believes that while the pandemic has caused untold problems within and without the industry, it’s also opened up opportunities for producers and distributors alike.
“On the one hand, we see that there is a rapidly mounting stock of ideas on the production side and not enough money, time or talent to get everything made,” she says, adding more optimistically, “On the other, we will see that when things return to normal, there will be a huge opportunity for producers and distributors who have great series ready to go, as broadcasters who once again have budgets to utilize will be looking to get ahead in the post-pandemic world—particularly the big U.S. players seeking to establish themselves with local content for their platforms across Europe and the rest of the world.”