Nobody could accuse Argentina’s Adrian Suar of not leading from the front. The most-prolific high-level multi-tasker in Latin America’s film-TV business, Suar is set to star in the upcoming movie “Futbol o yo,” produced by the Disney-backed Patagonik Film Group, as he advances on a full roster of TV series at Pol-ka Producciones, the TV production house he co-owns with Argentine broadcaster Artear.
A romantic comedy, “Futbol o yo” has gone into production as Suar, who also serves as program director for Artear-El Trece, the flagship free’to’air channel of media conglom Clarin Group, is helping to steer the top Argentine TV network fully into a digital age.
The most visible sign: a new contents production center, inaugurated in downtown Buenos Aires in January, which allows Artear program honchos access to contents to feed a multi-distribution network which takes in three newscasts, eight channels and four apps as Artear repositions, like other major broadcasters around the world, as much as a contents producer and re-distributor as a TV network. Whether TF1 in France or Artear in Argentina, major broadcasters’ performance will be judged by how their share and monetization of this multichannel universe.
Co-starring Julieta Diaz (“Lion Heart”), “Futbol o Yo” stars Suar as a soccer fanatic whose addiction destroys his marriage and career. Separated and jobless, he tries to balance his love of the game and family, if it isn’t too late.
Directed by Marcos Carnevale (“Lion Heart”) from a Suar-Carnevale screenplay, “Futbol o yo” joins the biggest Argentine box office franchise of the last decade: High-concept romantic comedies of manners which can now on occasions blow Hollywood blockbusters out of the water in Argentina while generating international sales and overseas remake deals. Starring Suar, produced by Patagonik, a 50-50 joint venture of Disney and Artear, and distributed in Argentina and the rest of Latin American by Buena Vista Intl. the comedy lineage takes in 2008’s “A Boyfriend For My Wife,” “Just Like Me” in 2010, 2012’s “2 + 2” and last year’s “I Married a Dumbass,” all four Argentina’s top local films of the year that earned an aggregate $24.0 million at national theaters.
A driving force in Argentine TV fiction, Pol-ka is linking with U.S. and Latin American players to create dramas for El Trece, Cablevision, the Clarin owned sister cable company, and international markets. Some of the key productions:
*HBO Latin America and Pol-Ka are teaming on “El Jardín de Bronce,” a missing-daughter procedural starring Joaquin Furriel and Norma Aleandro, and directed by Hernan Goldfrid (“Thesis on a Homicide”) and Pablo Fendrik (“Ardor”), which went into production in September.
*Turner Latin America’s TNT is linking to Pol-ka for “La Fragilidad de los cuerpos,” directed by Miguel Cohan (“No Return”), as well as “El Maestro,” starring Julio Chavez, to air on El Trece and Cablevision.
*Having produced daily teen drama “Violetta” for Disney, Pol-ka is in conversations with the Holywood studio for further series, said Suar. “There’s an alliance which goes back many years with [Disney], Pol-ka and the Clarin Group. There’s a bond with Diego Lerman, which is very strong and the door is open to further projects,” he added.
*”Love, Divina,” a Pol-ka teen drama produced with Mexican TV giant Televisa and France’s Federation Kids & Family, featuring Argentine pop icon Laura Esquivel (“Patito Feo”), has closed sales deals with Gallic state broadcaster France Televisions and Italy’s Super!
*Teen series ”Simona,” scheduled to launch in August according to Suar, marks the next step of a four-year, four-TV drama production deal inked with Televisa, which kicked-off with “Love, Divina.”
Broadcast in over 140 countries for the period 2012-2015, hit series “Violetta” was a pioneering TV fiction co-production by Disney in Latin America.
“The opportunity Disney gave us with the ‘Violetta’ production helped Pol-ka to be known on the international market,” Suar said.
“In Argentina, there is a very talented production workforce. Its cost-benefit ratio has become a very important quarry and source of [content] production,” he added.
Underscoring Artear’s entry into the digital age, “Love, Divina’s” drama is divided into three digital-friendly dramatic arcs of 20 segments, observing the demand for content of different platforms, including VOD systems, and had two production teams, one for traditional broadcast, another for digital. While avoiding local slang, the show would not disguise accents, as younger audiences are used to seeing shows in other languages. “Love, Divina” forms part, however, of Artear’s far larger digital recognition of a digital world.
Spread over a 28,000 square-foot surface, Artear’s new content production center manages 12 brands across all digital platforms, encompassing TV channels such as El Trece, El Doce or Volver to sites ciudad.com or TN.com.ar, which, with six million followers, tops Facebook in Argentina.
“The project’s main objetive is to bring us up to the level of main content generators around the world, where the digital aspect is already part of everyday life,” said Carlos De Elía, news director at Artear.
Hosted in a common cloud, content is adapted with the necessary technology and published across the windows. Occupying one storey at Artear, the new center also offers in addition four studios to broadcast live and online, a chroma studio and a spidercam facility.
“As editors, new digital content production puts us to the test: There’s more material, but a greater challenge,” De Elía added.
That could be said of the whole digital age which Artear is now braving.