Why There’s No Longer A Barrier Between U.S. Networks & European Partners

Rola Bauer, managing director of StudioCanal TV and CEO of its Tandem Productions arm, tells Andrew Dickens why the opportunities for U.S. networks to work with European networks are limitless.

How do you assess the current state of the global TV drama industry? 

Drama continues to be in huge demand around the world and international productions are driving this trend and pushing the boundaries of what the global market perceives as great content. Audiences now expect to find original, entertaining stories across multiple platforms. So it’s more vital than ever to create fresh, engaging and channel-defining content that will stand out as a series they want to spend their precious time watching.

What’s the mood for international coproductions like among U.S. networks? 

There’s no longer a barrier between U.S. networks and European partners. Budgets are tight everywhere yet the demand for strong, original programming to broadcast across the entire year continues. International productions are now commonplace, often now with two or more broadcasters or platforms onboard from the outset.

Our recent programming highlights underline the diverse ways in which productions can be developed for today’s market. For example, we’ve been able to bring in BBC America on Quatermass as the U.S. anchor network.

At our production company Urban Myth Films in the U.K., Netflix is onboard as a partner on the E4 commission Crazyhead. We have a wealth of new dramas produced by European partners that are going from strength to strength on the international stage, including Franco-Swedish coproduction Midnight Sun.

 Follow Rola on Twitter: @studiocanal

Does Europe still need U.S. financing and are new sources of drama funding now coming through? 

There are myriad opportunities for funding drama in today’s international market. We have projects that started in Europe before securing a U.S. production partner, projects created in Europe alone that are then pre-sold to a U.S. broadcaster or platform, and projects that have been jointly financed and developed from the outset by a number of parties from a variety of territories.

Will the ‘global drama bubble’ soon burst? 

Looking at the current drama market as a whole, certainly there is more content than ever before but volume is not an important consideration to success in this industry.

You’re highlighting the power of women in storytelling here at NATPE. Tell us more about that. 

Every story we tell needs to be enlightening, entertaining and engaging and it’s great when we see women’s voices delivering these attributes. Many incredible characters have been created by women – such as Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison from the pen of Lynda La Plante, brought to life by Helen Mirren, and more recently Sally Wainwright’s Sergeant Catherine Cawood in Red Production’s Happy Valley. In the U.S., Callie Khouri, Shonda Rhimes, Jenji Kohan, and Tina Fey are creating shows that feature the real women of today. Nonetheless, it remains difficult for women to have a voice and we must do all we can to encourage women writers, showrunners, and creators to engage them.

What is StudioCanal TV’s international strategy?

We’re continually using our international expertise and contacts to bring talent together, making connections and offering a full studio service. In addition to the benefits of being fully owned by Vivendi, our TV partnerships gain, in large part, from CEO Didier Lupfer’s ongoing strategy to develop strong overarching relationships with key, globally renowned talent. For example, Benedict Cumberbatch and Idris Elba have already starred in titles from StudioCanal’s film division.

What are your company’s plans for the U.S.? 

Establishing a base in Hollywood has been vital to growing our activities and achieving our ambition to be the go-to studio for the production of international premium event drama. StudioCanal’s USP is our ability to use the European narrative and DNA alongside international production know-how, which enables us to land in the U.S.

Of course, this also works the other way round. If we land first in the U.S., we can use our expertise and relationships to land in Europe. Being on the ground in L.A. has also been integral to building and establishing close relationships with U.S.-based networks and creative talent.

This article was originally published on Day 1 of the NATPE Daily. Read more from NATPE Daily Day 1.