Media Res aims to develop and finance its own projects, taking advantage of the strong demand in the U.S. and in overseas markets for high-end TV series.
The first property in the works is a limited series adaptation of the five-hour 1973 Ingmar Bergman film “Scenes From a Marriage.” Hagai Levi, creator of “In Treatment” and co-creator of “The Affair,” and playwright Amy Herzog are collaborating on the scripts, with Levi also planning to serve as showrunner and director. Lars Blomgren of Sweden’s Filmlance International, and Daniel Bergman, son of the late filmmaker, are also exec producers.
Bron Studios is a Vancouver-based production and financing entity that helped shepherd such recent pics as “The Birth of a Nation,” “Fences,” the upcoming Charlize Theron starrer “Tully” and the Sundance darling “Beatriz at Dinner.” The pact with Ellenberg is an effort to rev up the company’s activity in TV.
Bron, launched in 2010 by Aaron Gilbert and Brenda Gilbert, will arrange financing for Media Res projects. Through Bron’s investment in the startup, Ellenberg has a development fund that will allow him to cut deals with writers directly and take his time to develop and package projects before shopping them to buyers. Ellenberg aims to draw on his relationships and experience as head of drama for HBO and as a film development and production exec for Scott Free Productions and Scott Rudin Productions in assembling high-end productions.
“Even in a crowded landscape, cutting-edge and innovative TV shows are what is breaking through,” Ellenberg told Variety. “There’s never a surplus of great shows.”
Bringing financing to the table through Bron will help Media Res attract top talent. It’s also designed to make them players in the growing international co-production arena, typified by “The Young Pope,” a series Ellenberg developed during his time at HBO.
“This is a great moment for creatives with a lot of television being made for a lot of new distributors. We want to work with artists to push boundaries and help people realize their most provocative, daring vision,” Ellenberg said.
During his five years at HBO, Ellenberg developed such series as “Westworld,” “The Leftovers,” “Big Little Lies,” “True Detective” and the upcoming David Simon-George Pelecanos period drama “The Deuce.”
Ellenberg connected with the Bron principles as he was scouting around for his next move after exiting HBO in early 2016. The partners share similar taste in material and an artist-friendly approach to business, Ellenberg said.
“As we begin Bron’s foray into television we’re delighted to partner with an executive and producer whose background and eye for material is first-rate,” the Gilberts said. “We look forward to bringing a wealth of ground-breaking content to the screen together.”
Ellenberg is in the process of setting up office space in Hollywood. He aims to recruit seven to 10 staffers in the coming months.
The moniker “Media Res” is derived from the Latin phrase “in medias res,” a literary term for a story that opens in the middle of the action, challenging readers (or viewers) to figure out the context as the narrative unfolds.
“It’s the kind of storytelling I really enjoy,” Ellenberg said. “It’s about having a fundamental respect for an audience that wants to be challenged.”
(Pictured: Michael Ellenberg, “Scenes From a Marriage”)