BUENOS AIRES — Time Warner’s TNT is teaming in Argentina with Sebastian Ortega and Pablo Cullel’s Buenos Aires-based Underground Producciones to co-produce and air adventure thriller “Un Gallo Para Esculapio.” A shorter format 10-episode TV series, “Un Gallo” reps the return to TV direction of Bruno Stagnaro and the latest show from Underground, a driving force of upscale TV fiction in Argentina which leapt to international prominence after the Sebastian Ortega show-run “El Marginal” won top prize at Paris’ Series Mania this year and was picked up by Netflix, airing from October.
“Gallo” also marks part of TNT’s original production rollout in Argentina – with Mexico its key territory hub in Latin America – as it rings the changes on new windowing and co-financing arrangements which are one hallmark of the new Latin American TV.
Stagnaro broke through to fame co-directing with Israel Adrian Caetano “Pizza, Birra, Faso,” a 1998 movie which scored box office, plaudits and critical praise, demonstrating the artistic and commercial viability of low-budget filmmaking in Argentina. Aired in 2000, Stagnaro’s 11-seg squatter-themed “Okupas,” is likewise thought a highpoint of early century Argentine TV.
Written by Stagnaro and actor Ariel Staltari, who starred in “Okupas,” and to be directed by Stagnaro, “Un Gallo para Eculapio” returns to the same world of criminality and life-on-the-margins which Ortega explores so well in “El Marginal.” It follows a man who comes to Buenos Aires from its deep north Misiones province to look for his brother, who was last heard of working for a criminal gang. He infiltrates a criminal organization, which robs trucks carrying merchandise, TV sets, stern systems, hoping to know more about his brother.
For Ortega, Stagnaro is a natural creative bedfellow. Stagnaro is a writer-director whom I admire a lot. “Okupas” in 2000 was one of the main reasons that back then I was like: ‘There is a chance to do different things on network TV,’” Ortega said.
He added: “Everything he has done in the past is linked to that marginal universe. He has a talent for portraying that lifestyle that is pretty similar to mine.”
Like “The Sopranos,” another major inspiration for Ortega, he said, “Un Gallo Para Esculapio” “shows you who each character is, the duality between what they do for a living and how they live their life.”
TNT has first TV window. The partners are negotiating with a free-to-air broadcaster for second TV window in Argentina. TNT, Ortega’s Underground and Telefe teamed in 2015 to make “Historia de un clan,” about the notorious supper middle-class assassin kidnappers Clan Pucci which again won in France, taking the top prize at Biarritz’s FIPA fest in January 2016. Here, Telefe, Argentina’s biggest TV network, took first broadcast window and TNT screened a day later.
That, Turner’s Mariano Cesar said at Ventana Sur’s new Fiction Factory forum, is the new TV reality in Latin America.
Based out of Buenos Aires and handling TNT and TNT Series, Cesar is also overseeing for Turner a co-production with Pol-ka, another top Argentine TV production house, on “La Fragilidad de los cuerpos,” with Eva de Dominichi, Juan Gil Navarro and German Palacios.
Cesar said TNT is “quite agnostic” about series’ length, fully financing or bringing in multiple equity partners, and release window chronology.
Ortega agreed:“I was watching a Bruce Lee interview I have seen many times. He was talking about water, how it fits into a cup of tea, a can of soda, a bottle, Producers that do content at the moment, where the industry is in the middle of a transition, we are like water. We have to learn to adapt.”