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Upgrade Productions gears up for local Japanese, Spanish, Australia projects

Constantin Film-backed, LA-based production company Upgrade Productions has unveiled the first three projects on its slate of local language projects.

Twenty Faces is based on Edogawa Ranpo’s Boy Detective Agency novels

The prodco was launched last year by Matt Brodlie and Jonathan Kier to capitalise on booming demand for local language content worldwide as audiences seek out more international series.

Most recently Brodlie was senior VP international at Disney+, where he oversaw the content strategy for the streaming service in all markets outside the US and developed a slate of scripted and unscripted series and films globally. He joined Disney from Netflix, where he was director of international film.

Kier arrived at Upgrade after more than a decade with film finance, production and foreign sales company Sierra/Affinity, most recently serving as president. Before that he was executive VP, international sales and distribution at the Weinstein Company.

Upgrade’s first television series are expected to be ready to go into production in early 2023 and include Twenty Faces, based on a series of 62 books written by Japanese mystery writer Edogawa Ranpo.

The series follows a group of teens who help a detective solve mysteries in 1930s Japan. It is coproduced with Japanese production and distribution company The Klockworx and is produced with Akiko Funatsu. Seishi Minakami, the animé writer of Paprika, is on board as the show’s writer.

La Jaula (The Cage), meanwhile, is an original fantasy horror series coproduced with Spanish production and distribution companies DeAPlaneta and Minoria Absoluta.

The supernatural TV series is directed by José Luis Montesinos and written by Montesinos along with Iakes Blesa and Lluís Altés.

Set on New Year’s Eve, 1999, a group of kids sneak into an abandoned mansion to celebrate the end of the millennium, only to discover that their party house is actually the lair of a dangerous group of vampires.

Finally, Sausages (working title) is an original series from Australian comedian Ryan Shelton who has written, produced and starred in numerous Australian shows such as We Can Be Heroes, Rove Live and At Home Alone Together.

Shelton writes, produces and stars in the show, with Upgrade Productions serving as executive producers.

Set in Australia, it follows the comedian’s semi-fictional struggle to get his first television show off the ground. As he leaps into the production of a sketch show with his friends, the series explores the heady mix of megalomania and vulnerability that goes into putting your original ideas on screen.

Shelton recently produced a series of 22 original shorts and co-hosts the podcast The Imperfects with the Resilience Project’s Hugh van Cuylenburg.

A longtime collaborator with comedy duo Hamish & Andy, Shelton is currently executive producing True Story with Ed & Randall for Peacock, based on the series True Story with Hamish & Andy, which he writes, produces and stars in.

“Viewing habits continue to shift and evolve, and there is a remarkable demand for global content with compelling stories and universal themes,” said co-presidents Brodlie and Kier in a joint statement.

“In partnering with The Klockworx, DeAPlaneta, Minoria Absoluta and Ryan Shelton on these projects, we’re excited to take part in bringing diverse, local, and authentic voices forward.”


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