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Aetios Productions

Programming Profile

Aetios eyes coproductions, English-language content for 2022


Kathleen Préfontaine, director of distribution and development at Montreal-based Aetios Productions, outlines how the company has adapted to the changing marketplace and its expansion plans for next year.


How has Aetios Productions’ content strategy changed after the events of the past 18 months?
During the main phase of the pandemic, our principal focus was to provide as much content as possible to allow the audience to escape from the lockdown. We also decided that in all our productions, the pandemic would not exist or be referenced. No masks are seen, and the dialogue doesn’t mention the pandemic. It’s a strategy we think has worked for us as all our shows produced during the last year or so have been extremely successful with audiences. Of course, we adapted our production and storylines to comply with the new sanitary measures. The first weeks were a challenge for the production team, but they adapted quickly to the new way of working and we were able to produce 82 hours of content in 2020.


Kathleen Préfontaine,
Aetios Productions

How is your company responding to developments in your domestic streaming market?
We are developing more and more content for binge viewing. The series format, which was very standard here as 12 or 24 episodes, now tends to turn into eight to 10 episodes.


The local broadcasters in Quebec have their own streaming platforms and have been developing content with the local producers for many years now. We produced the first original series for Quebecor’s SVoD service Club Illico in 2016: Blue Moon.


Radio-Canada has a strategy to launch new high-end series on its SVoD platform Extra in a first window and then broadcast on the public free channel in a second window. We have produced three series that went through this broadcasting strategy: Stallion-Snake (Cheval-Serpent) and our new 2021 series Walk-In (Sans rendez-vous) and Reasonable Doubt (Doute raisonnable). As for the international platforms available in Canada, we are hoping to produce an original series for them and are still looking for the right project.



What are the highlights of your new development and production slates?
We have three new releases this year: Reasonable Doubt, Walk-In and Blissed. Reasonable Doubt is about a predominantly female police squad that specialises in sex crimes. Walk-In is a comedy about the colorful employees and patients of a sexual health clinic. This one is based on an Australian web series called Sexy Herpes, which we turned into a 10×30’ series. We are also in production of another comedy: Blissed, about a high school French teacher at his wit’s end, who decides to leave everything behind and buy a farmhouse in the countryside.


Please tell us about the international appeal and demand for these kinds of shows.
In the recent years, crime dramas and investigation shows were very popular. We found that with the pandemic, viewers are now looking for lighter series and especially comedies as well as diversity and multiculturalism. Our series Walk-In falls directly in these lines. It is a comedy with diverse characters, including a gender-fluid receptionist, a virgin nurse, a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a sex worker. Our series Reasonable Doubt centres on a predominantly female police squad that investigates sex crimes. After the #MeToo movement we wanted to give a voice to women and create a show in which female investigators treat these types of crimes differently.


How is international demand changing for Quebecois content?
We have seen an increase in interest abroad for original content produced in Quebec. Our productions are recognised for their quality despite budgets that are generally lower than in English-speaking countries. This makes the original productions very accessible to be adapted abroad. In addition, with the normalisation of subtitles after hits like Squid Game and Narcos, our content seems less limited by language.


Reasonable Doubt
Reasonable Doubt

Can you tell us about your company’s international expansion plans for 2022?
Our intention is to bring our three new productions to market with an increased presence at international events and festivals. Ideally, we would also like to participate in the international success of these productions by acting as coproducer in local adaptations. Finding the right partner is important to us and we are always looking to create solid and long-term partnerships. We look for suitable partners to exploit each series to its full potential.


After Globo TV adapted our series 30 Lives in Brazil, a second adaptation was produced by Banijay-owned Fiction’Air in France. It was a great success on France 2 and we are discussing a second season. Banijay also has an option for the same format in Flemish Belgium.


We have also signed a new deal with Keshet International for the adaptation rights in the US for Blue Moon as well as the international distribution of the original series, which is about a paramilitary unit that executes black operations for the government.


District 31
District 31

Another objective that Aetios has is to start producing content in English. We are open to coproduction but are still on the lookout for the appropriate project and partner.


What do you intend to achieve with your trip to Content London 2021?
It will be the first market we have attended since the pandemic. We are looking forward to reconnecting with our existing clients and partners and discussing our new series and projects. We also want to meet new potential clients and business opportunities in some territories that we haven’t delved into yet.