The growing demand for high-end TV series in Latin America is paving the way for more diversity and pan-regional content. Case in point is the Sao Paolo-based Barry Company’s “White Gold” (“Ouro Branco”) for pay TV channel Fox Premium, which will air the series in Brazil and the rest of Latin America next year under a multi-season pact.
Currently shooting on location in Rio de Janeiro and Uruguay, the 10-episode series is directed by Barry Co. co-founder René Sampaio (“Brazilian Western”) and Tomás Portella (“Special Operations”).
Set in 1990s Brazil, “White Gold” showcases top Brazilian talent Raphael Logam (“Last Stop 174”) and Rui Ricardo Dias (“Lula, the Son of Brazil) who play the leads, as well as Fernanda Machado (“Elite Squad”), Leandro Firmino (“City of God”) and Sérgio Malheiros (“Hopefuls”).
The rest of the Latin American cast includes Uruguayan actor César Troncoso (“Clandestine Childhood”) and Argentine thesps Julieta Zylberberg (“Wild Tales”), Jean Pierre Noher (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) and Germán Palacios (“XXY”).
“We wanted not to just make a series for Brazil but for Spanish-speaking Latin America,” said executive producer Mariana Ricciardi. To this end, the cast were instructed to enunciate their lines and in some occasions, speak in Portuñol, which is a Spanish-Portuguese hybrid.
In “White Gold” (a working title), a young man from the hillside slums (favelas) of Rio becomes a drug lord as he seeks to avenge the death of his younger brother. He finds his match in a veteran police officer who can be just as ruthless when tracking his prey.
“‘White Gold’ has a fantastic plot that differentiates it from its genre and from anything anyone has watched before,” said Edgar Spielmann, EVP & COO, Fox Networks Group Latin America, adding: “Like all Fox’s original productions it has the local identity and cultural components that our audiences love around the world.”
Although on the surface, it’s a testosterone-driven series, the focus is on the characters and both their inner and outer battles, said Ricciardi. “We want the series to appeal to both male and female audiences,” she said. As a female producer, she has sought to address the imbalance of women in the work place, making sure to hire as many women as men for various crew positions. “We seek to give voices not only to women but to blacks, gays, the handicapped and other marginalized groups,” said Ricciardi, citing their docu “4All” about Paralympic athletes and the predominantly black cast of “White Gold” as examples.
Co-founded by Krysse Mello, Mariana Youssef and Sampaio, the Barry Company’s other projects in development include sibling drama series “Lotus Flower”; sci-fi TV series “The Snatchers” by Ludmila Neves (“Juacas”) and Jotagá Crema (Netflix’s “3%”); a comedy series about a suicidal comedian, “Duncan,” for the Comedy Channel; and “A Happy Family,” a thriller feature to be directed by José Eduardo Belmonte (“Alemão: Both Sides of the Operation”) next year.
“In Brazil, we have made two premium shows that have made us very proud,” said Spielmann, citing Fox’s co-production with Conspiracao Filmes, “Call Me Bruna,” which is based on a true story of a Rio de Janeiro escort who became the most famous call girl in town, with season 3 now in production, and “One Against All,” also based on a true story, about a lawyer who is mistaken for an infamous drug dealer and ends up in jail where he impersonates the drug lord in order to survive. Season 3 of the hit series is in pre-production.
Per Spielmann, Fox produces an average of two shows in Brazil and two in Latin America for its Fox Premium Service and the same amount of basic shows for Fox and FX Networks in Latin America and Brazil. It has also produced a median of two unscripted shows per year.
“The must-haves for any script for Fox Premium are stories related to Latin America’s DNA: its history, identity, culture, heroes and villains; relationships and characters that represent what Latin-Americans and Brazilians are: Adventurous, passionate, complex, diverse and dreamers,” he said.
“Every new season, we have more and better talent approaching us to direct, act, produce and co-produce,” he said, adding: “We are now surrounded with a unique ecosystem of talent and production partners that catapult our work to a whole new dimension.”
Spielmann cited the upcoming series on Fox Premium Latin America called “Here on Earth” (“Aqui en la Tierra”), directed by Gael Garcia Bernal. Fox recently closed a deal with Spain’s leading premium service Movistar + to co- develop at least two premium shows a yearm starting with “Santa Evita,” based on the bestselling novel by Argentina’s Tomas Eloy Martinez and the religious thriller series “Santa Maria,” (a working title), to be directed by Pablo Larrain (“Neruda,” “Jackie”).