German docudrama specialist Gruppe 5 Filmproduktion is moving into fully scripted series with a slate spearheaded by a historical drama about Alexander the Great.
The company’s first drama will be The Nibelungs (1x120′), a medieval TV movie for RTL that is currently at the script stage.
It will be followed by Alexander the Great, a 10-part series charting the life of the epic ruler who built an empire before he died aged 33. Beta Film and ZDF Enterprises, which has a stake in Gruppe 5, are also involved in the English-language project, which is currently recruiting a writer.
Uwe Kersken, CEO and MD of Gruppe 5, told C21: “For me, Alexander is a mixture of manhunter and butterfly. He wanted to conquer Persia as revenge for the way they treated Greece but he also wanted to bring philosophy and western civilisation to different parts of the world, including Egypt, Persia and parts of India. This man is extremely interesting for many reasons.”
Other dramas in development include The Women Who Defied Kings, an eight-part miniseries about a Jewish noblewoman living in 16th century Portugal who helped thousands of Jews escape persecution from the Catholic inquisition.
Gruppe 5′s docudrama slate currently includes Konrad Adenauer – Stunden der Entscheidung (1x90′), due to air on ARD and Arte, about the former German chancellor. It is also developing Gerling (1x90′), also for ARD and Arte, about the 1974 banking crisis and due to begin filming in early 2013.
But Kersken said hybrid docudramas are becoming increasingly less sought after as broadcasters look for full drama or factual entertainment series.
“We do factual but most of our stuff is 60% or 70% drama,” he said. “We are not documentary makers anymore. Sometimes our films are more expensive than TV dramas.
“But in the international television world, you will find that hybrid docudramas about Egypt or old tribes are not being made any more. Channels do more and more science and history as event series or factual entertainment like Ice Road Truckers or American Pickers. The traditional way of showing history or science is dead.
“Maybe it will come back next year. We still do event programming, such as our six-part series for ZDF called Women Who Made History, which is 80% [scripted] drama. But this is an exception. The big slots are changing the way they do history.”