PARIS — France-based director Dominik Moll is attached to direct “The Steins,” an English-language drama modern-day reimagining of the Frankenstein myth that is set up at Newen, producer of “Versailles,” and Keshet International, the company behind “Prisoners of War” original which inspired “Homeland.”
The director of two Cannes Competition players, 2000’s “Lemming” and 2005’s “Harry, He’s Here to Help,” Moll’s attachment to “The Steins” will be his second directorial gig on a TV drama after he shot two episodes of “The Tunnel,” a Sky-Canal Plus English-language reworking of Nordic Noir flagship series “The Bridge.” Newen is majority-owned by French broadcaster TF1.
“Dominik Moll knows how to tell a story which needs to look normal but includes strange things, to cloak strange moods with the appearance of normality,” said Sandra Ouaiss, Newen head of international drama co-productions who will produce “The Steins” with Atar Dekel, head of scripted co-productions at Keshet International. Deke and Ouaiss will present the project together with writer Nils-Antoine Sambuc on April 18 at Series Mania’s Co-production Forum pitching sessions.
Described by Sambuc as “a family drama dressed as a sci-fi thriller,” the eight-part “The Steins” turns on two brilliant scientists, a married couple and lab partners, who embark on a desperate search for a cure for death, as their son is dying from an incurable illness. They succeed, bring back from the dead the body of a young man who died from an overdose. But doing so, the synopsis runs, they put their marriage, family and soon their own lives in danger.
“The Steins” “centers around our obsession with death in a sexy, thrilling and sometimes dark way. It’s a compelling family portrait within a paranormal set-up, echoed by the mythology of Frankenstein,” said Dekel.
She added: “The different layers enable us to deal with many underlying themes such as greed, betrayal and what happens when people try to control their own fate.”
The drama-thriller is currently set in France, with some scenes unspooling in the U.K. but could be developed and made in any country. At Series Mania, Ouaiss and Dekel will be looking for international broadcaster partners to co-develop and co-finance “The Steins,” Ouaiss said.
The series project represents a first result of a groundbreaking Newen-Keshet International co-development alliance. Announced last September, it aims at delivering upscale half or one-hour dramas and comedies in English with an especial appeal for audiences in Europe, including France, Ouaiss said. It comes as Keshet is looking to grow its global drama co-productions and, as Ouaiss emphasized, the “No 1. challenge and requirement” of drama is great screenwriting talent. “I like Israeli writers. They are so good at writing characters, driving deep into their psychology,” she added.
“Through France and Israel’s very prolific experience in film co-production, we have learnt that our audiences share the same taste. We want to elevate this creative relationship and translate it to the TV landscape as well,” Dekel said, adding that both countries’ content industries are now at the forefront of the international market; also, Dekel said, the Newen-Keshet International collaboration benefits from both companies’ ability to generate attention.