SEVILLE — In a pioneering but natural move between two of Europe’s biggest TV players, Mediaset España and parent company Mediaset Italia have teamed to co-produce romantic comedy “Lontano da te,” their first joint TV drama project.
Also co-produced by Rosario Rinaldo’s Roma-based company Cross Productions, the series toplines Spanish actress Megan Montaner (“Velvet Collection”) and “To Rome with Love” Italian actor Alessandro Tiberi (pictured).
For both parent TV giants – Mediaset Italia, owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest, controls 50.2% stake in Mediaset España, Spain’s leading TV broadcast network- the “Lontano da te” project represents a long-sought-after milestone in their original fiction TV production.
Mediaset Italia and Mediaset España have been keen on partnering in production “for a long time, but haven’t wanted to force things to jointly co-produce,” said Mediaset España CEO Paolo Vasile at a press meeting last week in Seville.
“Both companies constantly exchange information. Every project that each Mediaset owns is offered to the other Mediaset,” said Vasile, who exemplified this close relationship citing Mediaset España’s hit 2014 series “El Príncipe,” aired in Italy by Mediaset Italia’s Canale 5.
Rolling in both Spanish and Italian, “Lontano da te” has been lensing from mid-January in Seville, for a total seven weeks stay, then three weeks in Prague and finally eight more weeks in Rome.
The 80-minute, seven-episode TV drama will release in Italy and Spain in a primetime TV slot by early next year. Cross Productions will handle international sales rights.
“We have seen that it is possible to write a story that has the same value in one country and in the other,” Vasile said.
The series tackles in a humorous way the sentimental cataclysm provoked by the beginnings of couple’s relationships through the story of its leading characters: Candela, a 30-year old Sevillian girl (Montaner) and Massimo (Tiberi), an attractive 34-year old Roman businessman, two people with totally opposed personalities.
Their first meeting takes place at Prague airport and involves both saying a load of nonsense that reveals the differences between the duo. However, after returning to their respective countries, they will not stop to think about each other.
A peculiarity of the story is the fact that two highly-different people agree on the obsession they begin to have for each other, embodied in a strange phenomenon in which each will appear in the life of the other in the form of visions – in the most unsuspected and delirious situations. This fantastic element suggest a trend twist in current hit series, including Spain’s “I am Alive” and “The Department of Time” and Italy’s “Sirens.”
Stressing the gaps between the archetypal Italian – in this case Roman- and Spanish-Andalusian personalities, the couple react to the apparitions in a very different way. While the Italian character thinks he is suffering from a neurological disease, the Spanish woman thinks it is a matter of witchcraft.
“The series suggests a concept that seduced us from the beginning: Two people’s torture at not being able to forget each other after having met,” said Manuel Villanueva, Mediaset España’s contents general director.
“Shooting in Italian and Spanish prevents us from focusing on language misunderstandings. We generated the universal concept of two people living a love story like two trains crashing,” added Mediaset España’s head of fiction, Arantxa Ecija.
Although “Lontano da te” mainly targets Italian and Spanish TV markets, Vasile suggested in Seville that Mediaset España is expanding its activity to produce exclusive fiction contents on request from other international TV operators, following a growing trend among many top TV broadcasters around the globe. The move is based on Mediaset España’s consolidated brand as a long-term film and TV fiction producer.
“Lontano da te” partner Cross Productions’ recent credits include romantic comedy series co-production “Sirens,” which airs on RAI 1 TV primetime and is being internationally sold by Jan Mojto’s Beta Film.