PARIS — Zoe Cassavetes, the American director of “Broken English” and “Day Out of Days” is set to write and direct “Junior,” a coming-of-age, short-format series produced by France’s Manny Films for the newly launched platform Blackpills.
Shot in LA and turning on a teenage girl, “Junior” will explore the psyche and unbridled sexuality of adolescents brought up with Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and other social media.
Produced by Philippe Gompel at Paris-based Manny Films, the series will include 10 episodes of 10 minutes. Shooting is set to start this summer in LA. Casting is underway in the U.S..
Cassavetes, the daughter of actress Gena Rowlands and actor-director John Cassavetes, made her sophomore outing with “Day Out of Days” starring Alexia Landeau and Melanie Griffith, which premiered at L.A. and Deauville film festivals.
Although Cassavetes has never dealt with adolescence in her work, her two features, “Day Out of Days” and “Broken English,” portrayed strong female characters in a daring way. “Day Out of Days,” for instance, shed light on sexism and ageism in Hollywood through the tale of a 40-something struggling actress.
“We always think the younger generations of kids’ lives are so complicated but in actuality all the archetypes are still there. But there is so much more access to all kinds of information, and misinformation that kids have this big responsibility to feel adult. And this generation of parents wants to be their friend more than the parent. So it’s about exploring how these kids deal with all this stuff,” said Cassavetes.
Blackpills is an upcoming platform created by two high-profile entrepreneurs: Xavier Niel, founder and majority shareholder of the French Internet service provider Free, and Daniel Marhely, creator of music streaming giant Deezer, according to a source close to the venture. Set to roll out next fall, the service will feature premium mobile-native international series targeting mainly the U.S. market.
As previously reported by Variety, the initial offering of Blackpills will also include “Killer’s School,” a series created by Luc Besson and directed by Pascal Sid, the director of “Behind The Walls,” and Olivier Schneider, the fight choreographer of “Spectre.”
Blackpills is the second platform dedicated to mobile-ready, high-end series to launch this year. Vivendi Contents unveiled its service Studio Plus at MipTV in April with a first slate of 25 series representing an investment of 25 million euros ($28 million).
Blackpills and Studio Plus have different positioning. Studio Plus targets primarily Europe and Latin America whereas Blackpills will aim at conquering the U.S. market. Whereas the U.S. drama and digital landscapes are already highly competitive, Blackpills could have a shot at becoming a worthy player because of its director-driven approach and ability to attract talent such as Cassavetes who are looking to explore uncharted narrative, stylistic territories through this emerging 10 x 10 format.
“This is the future. People have less time to sit around and watch hours of programming. And actually it’s a fun art to getting all you want to say in that short period. I love the development of characters, and that it can be a little more experimental,” Cassavetes pointed out.
Speaking of her collaboration with a French producer (Gompel) and streaming service (Blackpills), Cassavetes said, “I am an honorary French person and I have always loved and admired the French for believing art is an important part of life that must be encouraged and nurtured.”