A stint in Silicon Valley inspired Italian new media entrepreneur Arturo Artom to fill what he believes is a gap in the TV market — content depicting things Italian, made by Italians, for worldwide auds.
His latest venture is Milan-based Artom Prods., a passion project, which he is bankrolling.
“I travel all over the world and some time ago when I was in a hotel in Los Angeles channel-surfing, I realized that whenever I see a documentary about something for which Italy is world-famous, it is never an Italian production,” he says.
That gave him a simple idea that he says nobody else seems to have thought of — an Italian selling the Italian lifestyle and the great things Italy has a reputation for.”
Artom, 43, is a venture capitalist and former manager of Italo telco Omnitel, who founded San Francisco-based video-blogging network Your Truman Show in 2006.
A year later, he unveiled the now widely-used VideoMap widget, which allows YTS users to add their video-blogs to social networking sites, among other useful applications. Other ventures include Muvis, a highly profitable wireless mood-sensitive lamp system.
Back in Italy after a couple of years in California, Artom is prepping to launch Artom Prods. first docu, “The School of La Scala,” about Milan’s 197-year-old ballet school, at this week’s Mip TV bazaar in Cannes.
“For the first time, La Scala opened its doors to a camera crew for six months for a look at what is probably the world’s most important dance school, shot with a mix of realism and a ‘Fame-like’ feel,” Artom says.
The 52-minute documentary, budgeted at $200,000, already has sold to local pubcaster RAI. But Artom is looking beyond Italo borders.
“Italian TV producers are focussed on the Italian TV market,” he says. “What they don’t realize is that you can conceive a product with appeal in 130 countries.”
Next in Artom’s pipeline is “Under the Italian Wines,” a series celebrating the fact that in 2008, Italy achieved the major milestone of surpassing France as the world’s top wine producer and the largest wine exporter to the U.S.
Narrated by blue-blooded Italo wine expert Gelasio Gaetani d’Aragona Lovatelli, the docu-series examining the wines of Tuscany, Sicily, Piedmont and the Veneto region will start shooting this summer.
“My friends in Malibu, their dream is to drink a 1957 Barolo or go retire in Tuscany,” Artom says.
Also in the pipeline is “Mysteries of Italian Churches,” digging deep into the secrets of famous artworks, Artom says.
Sales are being handled by former Discovery Channel Italy country manager Filippo Mori Ubaldini whose Film Media is bowing at Mip.
“I have found this very profitable niche that previously had only been tapped by the BBC or HBO,” says Artom, who hints at longterm plans to break into feature films.
Meanwhile, time will tell if auds find Artom’s Italian tales molto bene.