SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain – Finland’s leading media fund IPR is financing the development of TV series project “The Red Harlequin,” based on Italian writer Roberto Ricci’s young adult fantasy books saga.
The partnership follows a deal inked by the Finnish fund with Pantomimus Media, the company Ricci, agent Lisa Hryniewicz and creative director Pascal Demure have launched to hold and develop all “The Red Harlequin” rights.
Conceived as a transmedia project, “The Red Harlequin” will have the TV series at its heart.
As a TV drama, “The Red Harlequin’s” first season is envisaged as a 12-episode one hour drama with an international cast and an estimated budget of €30 million ($34.8 million) per season. Pantomimus is in final negotiations with a U.K. head writer and showrunner, Ricci told Variety.
“As IPR invests in development with the aim of financing the actual production, the plan is for our pact to continue beyond development,” he added.
According to Timo Argillander, managing partner at IPR,“this is a unique and compelling IP whose content can easily extend from books and comics to a plethora of formats and adaptations such as TV, music, video-games, film and licensing.”
“The Red Harlequin” is set in an ancient, alternate world where Chromes and Harlequins live divided by colors, and everyone hides behind masks.
“I started writing ‘The Red Harlequin’ soon after some powerful movements such as Los Indignados, Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring began to shake consciences in their respective countries,” Ricci said.
“I wanted to find a way that went beyond time and beyond current events. As I had always been fascinated by masks, I decided to draw on the Italian ‘Commedia Dell’Arte’ and create an alternate world.”
Although persecuted since the dawn of time, Harlequins are feared by Chromes as evil creatures with mysterious powers. The Harlequins hold the key to the truth of their world until Asheva, a young member of the Black Chromes, chooses a new path and eventually becomes The Red Harlequin, the most feared Harlequin of them all.
In the story, “the different color nations fight against each other, each suspicious of the other, each feeling morally superior to the other, and each one afraid of the diversity of the other. I would say that this is very similar to current events, where fear seems to drive political and economic decisions instead of collaboration and dialogue,” Ricci said.
He added: “The same holds true for masks. In ‘The Red Harlequin,’ people wear masks in public and I’m not sure that in real life things are much different. The changing force, the one that tears down the masks of hypocrisy, is youth.”