Conecta Fiction: ‘The Bureau’ Creators Top Productions Seek Spanish-Language Partners

Top Productions, the Paris-based outfit behind international hit TV series “The Bureau” and “The Oligarchs,” is looking to expand into the Spanish-language scene, according to its executive producer and co-founder Alex Berger.

As befitting the executive producer of an intelligence show, the media entrepreneur gave his online keynote at Spain’s Conecta Fiction event from a top-secret location.

Berger was more forthcoming, however, on the subject of expanding into Spanish-language TV and is currently looking for partners in Latin America and Spain to work on a new Top scripted TV series in development “Dick” – which focuses on FBI offices outside the U.S.

He told fellow U.S.-born Europe-based TV executive Steven Bawol (co-creator of police drama “Section de Recherches”), who was moderating the keynote: “I’d like to find an interesting show – that could bring to Spain what we have brought to France. We have some ideas but we are also looking for Spanish-language ideas that work for us internationally.”

He added: “We also want to make sure, as a French company which also works in the U.S., that we are able to bring something interesting to the table and add value.”

Top, which Berger founded 12 years ago with French screenwriter-director Eric Rochant – chiefly so that the pair could make “The Oligarchs” – also has a number of other shows in development.

These include “Furtive” –which focuses on soldiers on the ground and new ways of fighting; “Omen” which looks at the creation of the birth control pill and its impact on women’s lives and  “Sol “ –  a serialization of Laurent Guillaume’s African-based detective novel “Black Cocaine”.

The company is also working on one project in Asia, the Korean TV series,”Warladies”.

Meanwhile “The Bureau” is now in its fifth season and has been sold into over 100 markets.

The TV series was the first series in France to adopt the U.S.-style writer’s room, but dropping this process into other territories only works if it can adapt to local regulations, Berger warned.

He revealed that French labor laws meant that “The Bureau’s” cast or crew could not work more than 39 hours a week, and the team had to devise a shooting schedule in blocks to work around this rule.

“We had to optimize how we were shooting and everything was so tight. For the first season we timed how long it took to lift an element off the set – and then put that element back together again, as every second counted- it was like a Formula One tire change,” he said.

Berger added that the team was also required to reinvent the role of the writing co-ordinator, who had to keep track on who came up with what in “The Bureau’s”  writer’s room– to comply with a French rule that says writers can’t be disassociated from their work or ideas.

While Berger is clearly embracing the digital world –Top is currently developing fashion house saga“ La Maison” for a streamer – he thinks there have been missteps and is critical of the way short form outfits like Quibi and the now defunct platform BlackPills have been marketed.

“They’ve been sold as a medium for people too busy to watch long form episodes – but you don’t cut a book down to 20 pages just because you’re on a commute.

“It’s all about story and emotionally engaging in the narrative and characters. If you are selling it as a practical tool, you are setting yourself up for failure,” he said.

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