High-end Federation Entertainment, ZDF tween series goes into production in Paris
Jessica Lord and Castle Rock will star in “Find Me in Paris,” an out-of-the-ordinary attempt at an international premium series for tweens backed by Cottonwood Media, part of “Marseille” producer Federation Entertainment, German public broadcaster ZDF, its commercial arm ZDF Enterprises, and the Paris Opera Ballet.
Brit Matt Bloom, director of the BAFTA-winning “Hank Zipzer,” starring Henry Winkler, and Disney hit ‘The Lodge”, aired in 112 countries, is co-directing with Canadian Randall Thorne, whose credits take in episodes on performing arts drama “Backstage,” aired in the U.S. by Disney Channel, and of iconic Toronto high-school soap “Degrassi,” seen more recently on MTV Canada and now Netflix.
The high-end tween time-traveling ballet series initiated principal photography this week in Paris.
U.K.-born and Canada-bred Lord, who played Lola in Family Channel’s “The Next Step,” stars as Lena Grisky, a young dancer of royal blood on the cusp of becoming the next young star of the ballet world in 1905 when an old family necklace given to her by boyfriend Henri hurls her into the 21st century.
Castle Rock, seen in Disney’s “Descendants” and Nickelodeon’s “Make It Pop,” plays Jeff.
Rory J. Saper, young Tarzan in David Yates’ “The Legend of Tarzan,” takes on the role of Lena’s modern-day dance partner Max, who also runs an underground hip hop crew. Henri is played by Christy O’Donnell, star of movie “Moon Dogs,” which scored an Audience Award at Germany’s Mannheim-Heidelberg FilmFest and a Jury Award at Newport.
Actors were selected as much for their acting experience as dancing abilities. They will be doubled in some dance performances by members of the Opera Ballet School, where “Find Me in Paris” is shooting, the first time a youth series has done that in decades.
“We wanted people who could act very well and had enough experience in dance so that we could train or double them with some of the best dancers in the world,” said Cottonwood Media president David Michel.
He added: “Most of the cast have one or two significant acting experiences for a very good reason that they’re young. Some of them have huge star potential, however, and we look forward to shooting with them.”
Other cast members include Eubha Akilade, seen in BBC’s “Clique” and CBBC’s “Eve”; Hiran Abeysekera, star of Royal Shakespeare Company productions; and Hannah Dodd, face of Burberry with Romeo Beckham in 2014.
Streaming exclusively on Hulu in the U.S., “Find Me in Paris” has been acquired by major broadcasters in key territories such as France Télévisions (France), Disney (France and Italy), ABC (Australia), and VRT (Belgium). ZDF will air the show in Germany.
While many primetime teen dramas have a near sitcom-feel in their limited sets, strong lighting and colors and frequent close-ups, “Find Me in Paris” is being shot “like a premium drama show,” said Michel.
It is budgeted at just shy of €12 million ($13.7 million), “very high for a tween show, average for a primetime show, added Michel, who produces with Zoé Carrera Allaix, Cecile Lauritano and Pascal Breton, along with co-executive producer Leila Smith. Show’s creators and executive producers are Jill Girling and Lori Mather-Welch, also the creators of hit Nickelodeon series “Ride.”
Lord is represented by Archetype, Castle Rock by Brenda Campbell.