LILLE, France — France’s Leonis and the U.K.’s Artists Studio, owned by Endemol Shine, are re-teaming with Virginie Brac, one of France’s most celebrated screenwriters, on the development of a new miniseries “Faceless,” described by Endemol Shine as “a smart, tense, disruptive thriller which dynamites Anglo-French entente cordiale.”
Leonis’ Jean-Benoît Gillig, Artists Studio’s Gub Neal and Justin Thomson at DoveTale, which will also develop “Faceless,” made the announcement at France’s Series Mania. The co-development deal follows on Leonis, Artists Studio and Brac’s first collaboration, “Insoupconnable,” a series which world premiered last weekend at Series Mania.
Described by Endemol Shine as a “provocative new show,” and scripted by Brac and Oliver Butcher, “Faceless” “blows open the cracks at the heart of the European project,” taking audiences on a “wild ride through the corridors of power on both sides of the Channel,” Endemol Shine continued. The new one-hour series will feature murder, betrayal, blackmail, high stakes diplomacy and state sponsored cyber-crime, “heralding the start of a frightening new age of virtual warfare,” it added.
One of the delights of the new project and “Insoupçonnable” is that both herald a new U.K.-French scripted creative axis bucking the spirit of “Faceless.”
A Series Mania first weekend highlight, “Insoupçonnable,” a remake of the Artists Studio-produced “The Fall” was made by Leonis, written by Brac and commissioned by TF1. It underscores the revolution in free-to-air drama series in Europe. A crime thriller, like the original, “Insoupçonnable” identifies the serial killer (Melvil Poupaud) from the get-go – a loving father who strangles slowly his victims, all vivacious women, gloating over their bound bodies like a gourmet inspecting his next meal.
That darkness, and psychological ambivalence, would never have been found in free-to-air French series just a few years back.
“Our French team did a great version of ‘The Fall,’ where they have taken the heart of the show, and the characters, but have made them relevant and real to the French audience,” said Endemic Shine Group CEO Sophie Turner Laing, in an onstage conversation which was part of the Transatlantic Dialogues.
She added: “I think the heart of a great adaptation is to make sure you stay true to it’s core, but allow it to breath.”
“Faceless” unites notable creative talent on both sides of the Channel. Brac, for example, lept to fame, writing Season 2 of “Spiral,” the series which launched Canal Plus’ drive into premium original series production. Butcher co-wrote Liam Neeson-starrer “Unknown,” and Fabrice du Welz’s “Message from a King.”
Jamie Lang contributed to this article.