You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Conecta Fiction: ‘Skam’ Initiates International Rollout

Conference panel analyzes differences between three reversions of cult shot-format series ‘Skam’ (Shame)

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain — With remakes already launched in the U.S., France, Germany and Italy since early 2018, the international rollout of “Skam” (Shame) may be far from over.

Germany’s Beta Film and Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, which handle international sales on the original cult short-format drama hit, have received “strong” expressions of interest in “Skam” remakes from The Balkans, Russia, India, Japan, Brazil and Colombia, Christian Gockel, Beta Film EVP international sales and acquisitions, commented at a Conecta Fiction round table.

Little wonder. Remakes released or in production involve three European public broadcasters – France Televisions, which produces the French retread with Banijay Studio France; Germany’s ZDF/Funk, teaming on the German makeover with Bantry Bay; and NTR, producing a Dutch reversion for the Netherlands’ NRT/NPO.

Two telecom arms – Spain’s Movistar +, the pay TV division of Telefonica, and Timvision, the VOD service of Italia Telecom, teaming with Cross Productions – are behind the Spanish and Italian versions.

Traditional TV networks have seen teen audiences slump worryingly. “We all have the same trouble of rebuilding young audiences in the free TV space. ‘Skam’ is a perfect program to launch on digital then go to free TV,” said Nathalie Biancolli, France Televisions’ director of acquisitions and co-production,  which released the first segment of Skam on web platform France TV Slash on Feb. 11. It began airing the series on France 4, its kids’/youth channel, from Feb. 25.

The German version was put out March 23, Italy’s March 29; “Skam Austin,” produced by Simon Fuller for Facebook, bowed its first short clip on Facebook Watch on April 24, its first full episode on the same outlet from April 27.

Some “Skam” elements vary little from one market to another: Storylines are broadly the same; the German version repeats NRK version characters one by one.

“Details of reality” may change, said Fran Araujo, But “deep down,” the Spanish reversion’s core issues remain the same: Teens are under pressure to always be O.K.”

For a show whose original trumpets its portrayal of “real life stories,” drawn from months of research, reversions must vary in detail. The Conecta Fiction round table spent much of its time drilling down on these inflections, prefaced by a five-minute of trailers from the NRK original and French, German.

Immigration, for instance, is a hot button issue in Germany, Berlin a multi-cultural society. So the treatment of the Muslim girl character Amira Thalia Mahmood is central to the series, fore-fronted from the get-go.

In contrary to the Norwegian original, the German teens openly use cannabis and even deal the drug. Many more young Italians life at their parents until well into adulthood, So the series features far more their families. The sex in early segs of “Skam Italia” sparked complaints, was toned down.

But the reversions reflect not only cultural differences but also operators’ strategic needs and habits.

One of the biggest differences to date has been in marketing. Launching in 2015, NRK famously let teens discover the show for themselves. “Skam Italia” in contrast is TIMVision’s first original show. That message had to be gotten out to potential telco subscribers, so there was a big advertising push. That seems to have worked. The first “Skam Italia” clips collapsed the site’s server. Symptomatically, its girls’ problems were a larger trending topic than Italy’s dire problems in forming a new government.

France Trelevisions used professional actors, Movistar + ordinary “teenagers,” whose personal life stories feed into the characters they represent, said Araujo.

Germany has had a multi-channel TV universe for years. “Competition is so strong that [the producers] wanted to suggest a difference from what was known about the series,” said Beta’s Glockel. Also, “Skam” didn’t make sense in German. So the title was changed to “Druck,” “pressure” in German.

Versions’ biggest obvious differences are in the music, however, ranging from the thudding disco beat of the original and French version to “Druck’s” edgier electronic laid-back hip hop and Italy’s celebratory Italian pop song, such as “The Best Years of Our Lives,” belted out by the characters. The series might question that message, however. But, challenged by Netflix and other international platforms, TIM must play up its status as a national new entertainment pioneer whenever it can.

Some things, however, stay the same. The plot-lines are near identical, followed beat for beat. In a new internationally competitive TV environment, many were far too good not to use. Such as a  catty put-down one girl delivers to another at a party. “I’d skip that eyeliner if I were you,” she says in NRK’s original. “It makes you look like slut.” Stunned, then aghast, the victim wipes away the liner.

“In case you’re asking whether you have too much makeup on, yes, you look like a slut,” the exchange goes in “Druck.”

“This journey have shown me that we are very much more alike than we think, and that these kind of stories work, become relevant to all kinds of people,” said “Skam” producer Marianne Furevold. Seen from a girls’ point of view, capturing teenage angst as the survival of the coolest, “Skam” is a telling portrait of growing up in the social media age.

More TV

  • Michelle Dockery Jaeden Martell

    Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell Join Chris Evans in Apple Series 'Defending Jacob'

    “Downton Abbey” alum Michelle Dockery and “IT” star Jaeden Martell have signed on for lead roles in the Apple limited series “Defending Jacob,” Variety has learned. They join previously announced series lead Chris Evans. The series is based on the 2012 best-selling novel of the same name by William Landay. It tells the story of [...]

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

  • 20th Century Fox TV to Adapt

    20th Century Fox TV to Adapt Esi Edugyan Novel 'Washington Black' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Twentieth Television, in conjunction with Sterling K. Brown’s Indian Meadows Productions, Anthony Hemingway Productions and The Gotham Group, has won an intense bidding war for the rights to bring Esi Edugyan’s award-winning novel “Washington Black” to the small screen, Variety has learned exclusively. The novel will be adapted for into a limited series for TV by [...]

  • Facebook's 'Red Table Talk' Garners Daytime

    Facebook's 'Red Table Talk' Garners Daytime Emmy Nomination

    Facebook is now in the awards hunt: Its popular original series “Red Table Talk” hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith was nominated for a 2019 Daytime Emmy. It appears to be the first-ever Daytime Emmy Awards nomination for a Facebook-funded show, although a company rep was unable to confirm that. “Red Table Talk” is nominated in [...]

  • pharrell brain child show

    Pharrell Teams Up With Atomic Entertainment to Push 'Edu-Tainment' for Kids of Color

    Pharrell Williams may best be known as a Grammy-winning musician, but the 45-year-old is singing a different tune these days as the executive producer of “Brainchild,” a new Netflix series that teaches kids about science, technology, and current events. Co-created by Atomic Entertainment, the show is a spinoff of the New York-based production company’s “Brain [...]

  • Issa Rae Michael B. Jordan Actors

    Variety's 'Actors on Actors' Earns Daytime Emmy Nomination

    Variety has earned another Emmy nomination for its “Actors on Actors” series, but the first at the Daytime Emmy Awards. The PBS SoCal series brings together two actors for a candid conversation about their recent roles and thoughts on Hollywood. The nominated season includes interviews with actors promoting their TV projects including: Bill Hader (“Barry”) with [...]

  • 'Call My Agent!' Wins France's Export

    'Call My Agent!' Wins France's Export Prize; Lincoln TV Wins Named Best French Fiction Producer

    “Call My Agent!,” the hit comedy series whose second season recently pulled top ratings on France’s public broadcaster France Televisions and has traveled widely, won the export prize during the French Television Producer Awards gala ceremony organized by Procirep and TV France International. Although “Call My Agent!” was picked up by Netflix for most markets, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content