Mip TV: Studiocanal, Tomas Alfredson’s Spark TV Ink First-Look Pact (EXCLUSIVE)

‘Tinker, Tailor’ helmer and producer partner Piodor Gustafsson join Studiocanal’s burgeoning Scandinavian talent relationships

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Courtesy of Focus Features

CANNES – Deepening yet further its impressive TV talent base in Scandinavia, European film-TV mini-major Studiocanal has inked a first-look pact with Spark TV, the Stockholm-based TV production company created by “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” director Tomas Alfredson and producing partner Piodor Gustafsson. Alfredson’s credits also include cult vampire tale “Let the Right One In.”

Founded in December, Spark TV is a subsid of Another Park Film, the film-TV production house launched in September 2012 by Gustafsson and Alfredson. First-look pact will see Spark TV and Studiocanal co-developing TV series and mini-series in both English and Swedish.

“Some series could be local, since Scandinavian series travel very well. Others can be English-language and potentially with a main partner sometimes outside Scandinavia,” said Studiocanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson.

“We aim in Europe to back both local and international series,” Courson added, instancing the move by the U.K’s Red Production Company, producer of high-rating British drama, into international programming with Harlan Coben’s “The Five.”

Currently, Spark TV is in early negotiations with directors and other talent on a couple of projects, said Gustafsson, Spark TV MD.

“Spark TV series will always aim for high quality and to be accessible for an audience outside Scandinavia. We tend to like dramas that have an artistic feel to them, and also suspense thrillers,” he added.

Studiocanal could come to the table to co-produce, co-finance, distribute and sell subsequent productions, or help bring in a second anchor broadcaster from outside Scandinavia, Courson added. On Swedish-language projects, Spark TV would look to bring a Swedish broadcaster on board.

On Spark TV series, Alfredson could act as a producer, creator or director, occasionally helming the pilot, said Gustafsson, who will serve as projects’ creative producer.

Breaking out to international success in Swedish and English movies, Alfredson is one of Sweden’s most respected directors. Aiding access to further talent in Sweden, Gustafsson served as programming head at Swedish broadcaster SVT between 2009 and 2012, commissioning series such as crime drama “The Bridge” and “30 Degrees in February.” Prior to SVT, he worked as a commissioning feature film consultant at the Swedish Film Institute, involved in “Let the Right One In,” Susanne Bier’s Oscar-winner “In a Better World” and international phenom “The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo.”

The Studiocanal-Spark TV pact builds on a happy relationship. Studiocanal teamed with Working Title to finance, sell and distribute Alfredson’s English-language feature debut ““Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”

A crossover B.O. hit, grossing $80.6 million worldwide, “Tinker Tailor….” also garnered large critical plaudits, bolstering the reputation of both Alfredson and Studiocanal for high-quality movies with an audience.

“This is a natural fit. We had a great experience with ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.’ Tomas Alfredson is somebody I know very well and like very much,” Courson commented.

“We are very happy with this collaboration. We like and have a high respect for Studiocanal as a company and individuals,” Gustafsson added.

Over the last half-decade, Scandinavia has forged a reputation for high quality local-language TV dramas which, despite not being made in English, still command sales,

considerable foreign TV audiences and format adaptations in international. Many shows now involve international co-production partners.

“It’s an immensely interesting region, with great writers, stories talents and a strong literary tradition. Often their TV work is very specific in location but also universal,” said Courson.

“The high quality of Scandinavian drama in relation to its low budget, has made it interesting for broadcasters and others to co-produce from outside Scandinavia, such as from Germany, U.K., and France, Gustafsson agreed.

Deal marks Studiocanal’s third Scandinavian production pact. In May 2014, Studiocanal co-created SAM Productions ApS, a four-way joint venture with Danish writers Adam Price (“Borgen”) and Sorein Sveistrup (“The Killing”) and producer Meta Louise Foldager (“Melacholia”).

Last September, the Euro group inked an output deal with Stockholm’s Svensk Filmindustri, owned by the Bonnier Group, Sweden’s biggest publisher. Pact also contemplated co-production of English and local-language features and TV series, some adapting Bonnier Group properties.