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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

All3Media International

Programming Profile

Scripted formats in focus at All3Media International

27-04-2021

All3Media International’s Maartje Horchner explores how the market for scripted formats has evolved and talks us through the IP on the company’s playlist for C21’s Digital Screenings this week.

 

As with all parts of the international TV business, the scripted formats market has been impacted by lockdowns and the explosion of streaming over the past year as broadcasters and global platforms alike put the emphasis on local content.

 

So says Maartje Horchner, the London-based executive VP of content at distributor All3Media International, who is this week showcasing a dozen scripted formats to international buyers via C21’s Digital Screenings and is also sharing some of her insights as to how this particular corner of the global industry is changing.

 

“The international market for scripted formats had been growing, even before lockdown,” she says. “Interest was increasing year-on-year and slowly started to convert to actual local versions being produced and aired, rather than just discussed with creatives.”

 

This growth appears to be driven, in part, by all the global SVoD platforms that have launched over the past year. “The opportunity has a lot to do with the arrival of global streamers opening up the world to English-language content – and, indeed, global content,” Horchner notes.

 

Horchner
Maartje Horchner,
All3Media International

“Locally, broadcasters realise there is an audience for the original language and also an audience for the adaption with local stars and locality. Covid-19 has accelerated this process, where broadcasters and platforms now want to move quickly out of lockdown and straight into production. Adapting exciting drama into the local language is simply a quicker route towards delivery and transmission.”

 

It might seem somewhat contradictory to say global streamers are driving demand for scripted formats, but it makes sense when you factor in the need for local content to complement the pipeline of US programming these streamers enjoy – not to mention the response of local broadcasters to their arrival.

 

“The arrival of global streamers highlighted the increasing need for local content,” says Horchner. “We all enjoy a big-budget Netflix show, but then we also want to see shows created and produced in our own local languages. The streamers have also picked up on this by actively looking to produce or coproduce local-language shows, and are showing serious interest in format adaptations.

 

Step Dave
Step Dave

“They are becoming more and more flexible on the territories and are more willing to negotiate deal terms – for the right project, of course. Global streamers don’t necessarily demand global rights anymore.”

 

Despite the growth of global streaming and the fact that the original versions of hit shows are increasingly available to audiences worldwide, and often watched by viewers with subtitles, Horchner doesn’t see this reducing demand for local-language remakes.

 

“Not all of our originals are actually available to stream globally; we also have quite a few titles where we simply sold around the world territory by territory,” she says. “Local versions of our scripted formats continue to be in demand. We have even sold the UK version of a show to a territory and then the same broadcaster made a local version of that same show, with very few adaptations to the original story. Local production and local language are such a magnet for viewers.”

 

Cheat
Cheat

With this in mind, Horchner’s Digital Screenings playlist features 12 scripted formats. From South Pacific Pictures and TV2 in New Zealand comes Step Dave, a 26-part slacker-to-stepdad story she describes as “balancing nicely on the edge of drama and lighter comedy.” The format’s success “has proven to us how much international buyers are looking for uplifting and light-hearted family-friendly drama,” the exec adds.

 

Liar, meanwhile, is a UK drama written by siblings Harry and Jack Williams (Two Brothers Pictures) for ITV, which “takes us into the world of the edge-of-your-seat thrillers, a story that makes you sit and wonder about who lies and who tells the truth.” Cheat is another show about deceit, centring on two women and a murder, leaving the viewer to guess who is guilty and who is innocent. The four-part ITV series was written by Gaby Hull.

 

Diary of an Uber Driver
Diary of an Uber Driver

The Williams brothers are also behind the two seasons of The Missing on All3Media International’s slate, as well as spin-off Baptiste, which follows the missing persons investigator from the first two seasons of the original show. Horchner says BBC1 production The Missing “explores the harrowing road of what happens when a loved one goes missing and even what unfolds if they come back.”

 

The All3Media International exec is also looking to license “superbly written, brilliantly emotional” issue-based Channel 4 drama Ackley Bridge as a scripted format, with the UK show having chalked up 36 award-winning hours. She says the school-set series “is a great, timely opportunity to tackle difficult issues like discrimination on race, class, gender and religion in an accessible way. It is suitable to be adapted into hours or half-hours.”

 

Clique
Clique

Based on a blog, Diary of an Uber Driver is a show “about a young man lost in a world full of other people’s issues and problems,” says Horchner, adding that the RevLover Films show “is a proven hit – it has been commissioned in Australia and remade in Germany, and other adaptions are in the pipeline.”

 

From award-winning writer Sophie Petzal for Channel 5, Blood is a 12-part “domestic thriller,” according to Horchner, who adds: “It has a small cast of only seven main actors, so creates the potential to keep the budget to an agreeable level and can be attractive to film during difficult pandemic times.”

 

From Skins co-writer Jess Brittain comes Clique, a fast-paced young-adult drama series about an exclusive group of university girls. Horchner describes the show as “edgy, young, sexy… very adaptable and easily placed in any university city around the world.”

 

The Drowning
The Drowning

Next up is a pair of British thrillers: The Drowning and Innocent. Both were stripped over four nights on their respective channels, Channel 5 and ITV, and both generated high ratings. The Drowning is “a gripping, almost harrowing ride of emotions,” focusing on a mother who becomes convinced her missing son is now living with another family in the same town, while Innocent is “from the absolute king of hit thrillers, Chris Lang,” says Horchner. Lang is the creator and writer behind hit ITV drama Unforgotten.

 

Innocent, she continues, is an anthology that “leaves the viewer guessing to the absolute last minute about what really happened. It’s a stunning display of perfected writing skills, resulting in an absolute gem of a German adaptation, with more versions to follow, I am sure.”

 

The Nest
The Nest

Rounding out the playlist are five-part BBC1 thriller The Nest, about two women whose completely different lives collide when a pregnancy becomes the centre of their worlds, and New Zealand high-school sports drama Head High. Regarding the latter, Horchner says: “It’s a proven drama set in a proven precinct with a nice balance of drama off the pitch; these scripts can be transferred to any sport at any college, anywhere.”

 

Returning to the topic of the growing market for scripted formats, Horchner sees a healthy future for remake rights, though acknowledges that some territories are more buoyant than others. “In Europe, France and Germany are probably the fastest-growing and also most lucrative territories,” she says. “Globally, there is a lot of interest in South-East Asia and India. In the US, there’s a lot of interest in scripted formats but it is a much slower process and adaptations are more complex.”

 

And this growth in demand for local remake rights comes despite – or perhaps because of – the rise of globalisation, she reiterates. “It will continue to grow. With the globalisation of networks and streamers, local projects and communities will become stronger; it’s a natural reaction. A good story – and we are lucky enough to work with many of the best writing talent in the UK, Australia and New Zealand – is a good story, and TV has an insatiable appetite for them.”



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