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Netflix to Install a Director for Original Documentaries in New London Office

Netflix is sending executive Diego Bunuel to the U.K. to oversee original factual programming out of its soon-to-open new London office, part of the the streaming giant’s increased emphasis on localizing its lineup of shows. Bunuel, who will relocate from Los Angeles, will commission original documentaries for Europe.

Netflix makes most of its programming decisions from L.A., but is expected to install content executives in its regional bases as part of its ramped-up localization effort. Bunuel, who has been with Netflix for about three months, was previously head of factual producer Explorer and is a former head of documentary at French pay-TV operator Canal Plus. A Netflix spokesman confirmed that Bunuel would be based in the British capital as director of original documentaries.

Netflix will move into a new Central London headquarters near Oxford Circus in the next few months, and Bunuel will work from there as part of the existing team. There will not be a new international factual division. The U.S. company is expected to increase its local commissioning firepower over time, and sources said it is scouting for talent but has not yet hired scripted or unscripted originals bosses for the London team.

Netflix has recently ordered a pair of documentary series with French influences. It has an unnamed series based on the cold-case murder of Grégory Villemin in 1984, produced by Lagardere’s Elodie Polo Ackermann, with Gilles Marchand as showrunner. It has also ordered “The Staircase” (pictured), about Michael Peterson, a crime novelist accused of killing his wife; the show is produced by Matthieu Belghiti and directed by Academy Award-winner Jean-Xavier de Lestrade.

London has become an international beachhead for the FAANGs, causing friction between them and the traditional British players, which are faced with losing talent and content in the competition with the well-resourced U.S. firms. Apple has hired former Channel 4 programming head Jay Hunt as its creative director for Europe. YouTube has former Disney exec Luke Hyams overseeing originals for the EMEA region ahead of the launch of YouTube Premium service in the U.K. Amazon has a programming team based in London headed by former FremantleMedia drama executive Georgia Brown.

Broadcast first reported that Bunuel would have a commissioning role based in Netflix’s London office. Netflix executives were pressing the flesh with factual producers at the Sheffield Doc/Fest event this week, Broadcast reported, with former BBC Storyville executive Kate Townsend, who joined the streaming giant last year, at the event alongside Bunuel.

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