A complex spy thriller set in the near future imagines Europe on the brink, manipulated by a shadowy organization bent on destroying democracy across the continent.
With far-right political parties making strides across Europe, it’s an all-too-plausible scenario portrayed in “An Ordinary Citizen,” a 10 x 52’ series from Belgium’s Climax Films that has been selected for MIA’s drama series pitching competition.
Set on the eve of the campaign to elect the first President of the newly formed United States of Europe, the series follows an ordinary family man who becomes a fugitive when his daughter disappears, and he’s accused of killing his wife. Hunted by the secret service, he gradually realizes he’s a pawn in a much larger game that could ultimately tear Europe apart.
“An Ordinary Citizen” arrives at a pivotal moment in European history. “It looks like our democratic societies have lost their goal and direction,” said series creator and showrunner Kristoph Tassin. “A lot of people are asking themselves, ‘In which direction are we going?’”
Tassin has been developing the series for three years, and has compiled a 100-page scriptwriters bible full of detailed research notes. “We have really gone deep in order to have all the necessary tools to create a world that’s developed perfectly and matches our reality,” before adding fictional elements, he said.
While drawing inspiration from films like “JFK,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” and “Three Days of the Condor” to create a pulse-pounding political thriller, Tassin wanted to paint the world of “Citizen” with smaller brushstrokes.
“Everything is more on the point of view of the characters, and on the very intimate journey for all of them,” he said. “It’s more a character-driven story [about] the little man in front of history.”
Climax will be bringing 10 detailed episode outlines of “Citizen” to MIA, along with the first two finished scripts. For its first international TV series, the producers are looking to meet with broadcasters, international sales companies, and potential co-producers.
“It’s very important for us to aim for an international target,” said Climax’s Caroline Houben.
Tassin feels it’s the perfect time for a series like “Citizen.” “There has been a big shift…with the development of drama series, and more and more are asking big questions that the audiences are asking themselves about where our societies are moving,” he said. “‘An Ordinary Citizen’ tries, if not to give answers, but to focus more on those questions.”