EXCLUSIVE: Spanish independent production powerhouse Mediapro is at the San Sebastian Film Festival this year and is presenting two of the liveliest local feature films on the program: Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Oscar Martinez with Official Competition, arriving from Venice, and Javier Bardem at the front The good boss, which is previewed here.
Both films, which are both forms of comedy but which could hardly be more different in their approach to the medium, made a name for itself after being well received at the festival (the The good boss the first is this day before but it has already been screened twice).
Talk to Deadline in San Sebastian, Laura Fernández Espeso, CEO of Mediapro’s production wing, The Mediapro Studio, said the festival looked like a “celebration” for the company after a tumultuous 18 months. At the start of the pandemic, the prolific squad had to pause a total of 52 productions, but everything is now back to normal, she adds.
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Espeso has worked at Mediapro since 2009 and was appointed CEO of the Studio in 2020, which gives him an important mission of supervising a large production team in the various offices of the company, including 14 located in South America, in Europe, the United States (Miami and New York) and more recently the United Kingdom, where Stephen Johnson heads operations.
The company has a distribution arm through which it often manages its own sales, which allows it to retain intellectual property while securing funding through individual land rights agreements. For example, the company’s first English series The head has been sold to partners such as HBO US, Hulu Japan, Starzplay and Canal Plus, racking up deals in 60 territories in total.
“Our distribution division makes a big difference for us in terms of retaining intellectual property while taking risks,” explains Espeso. “We can calculate the numbers based on international sales. Some customers want global rights, but we try to keep those rights.
These types of funding frameworks allow producers like The Mediapro Studio to compete with the American giants with deep pockets, which continue to make great strides in the European production space, in terms of the reach and quantity of their shows. . Here also in San Sebastián, Deadline sat down with Netflix Spain’s TV and film heads to discuss their rapid expansion into the territory, which sees them doubling their dedicated studio space this year.
Crucial point for Meidapro, because it does not directly release its productions, the streamers are often customers rather than competitors. The productions made by The Mediapro Studio for streamers include Magic for humans Spain for Netflix and Las Cumbres boarding school and Fernando for Amazon Prime Video.
“They [the streamers] are good clients for both scripted and unscripted. I have great respect for them and we want to continue working with them forever, ”comments Espeso.
This positive relationship doesn’t change the fact that groups like Netflix recruit local talent in countries like Spain, not only with long-term engagements on major shows, but also sometimes with exclusive deals. Money theft creator Alex Pina has an exclusive deal with Netflix, for example.
Espeso says Mediapro Studio’s integrated relationships with top local talent often give the company an edge. She also notes that working with Mediapro allows creators to find various avenues for their content, not just tying them to a single distribution stream.
“If you sign with Netflix, you’re going to do shows only for Netflix. There are all these cool things happening in the market and you won’t be allowed to do them, ”she says. “The bottom line is that we are working across the market, and people trust us, we’ve been building these relationships for 20 years.”
Mediapro also occasionally makes exclusive deals, she notes, and now has one with Fernando González Molina, the creator and showrunner of recent series. Paraiso for Globomedia and Movistar + by Mediapro. “It’s good for him [Molina] do shows for Amazon, Apple, HBO… he can do it from one place with us]”, adds Espeso.
Other exclusive deals with the creators include Ran Tellem and Mariano Baselga (The Head), Argentinian filmmaker Daniel Burman (Victoria Small) and Ivan Escobar (Express).
Studio Mediapro has a total of 68 shows at different stages of production, including 20 fiction series. Some of the more recent projects on the slate are in English, a new venture for the company. They understand Is there no place on earth for me, the American show for which John Turturro is writing three of the six planned episodes and will also direct. Is also under construction A dry sun, a series with Thread creator David Simon, and British show 58 seconds, which is directed with Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland) and Paul Unwin (Breathless).
Espeso says that entering the English market is not easy for a Spanish company, but that it is “100% convinced” by the strategy. Latin America, the United States and the United Kingdom are now the main areas of growth for Mediapro Studio outside of Spain, she adds.
One project to be determined is Woody Allen’s upcoming film, which is expected to be titled Match point. Mediapro chairman Jaume Roures previously confirmed that the company is looking to get involved in the director’s next project, which will be his 50th film, after working with Allen on titles including Rifkin feast, but Espeso says it’s still pending.
” We do not know yet [if we will produce the film]. There is no timeline with Woody. There is a very good relationship and we are open to it, but he needs to write. When the script comes in, we start the conversation, not before, ”she explains.