Tetra Media Studio, the company behind such hits as World War II drama “A French Village,” the procedural “Profilage” and thriller “Les Hommes de l’Ombre” (“Spin”), is developing a flurry of ambitious French-language series.
Acquired a year ago by ITV Studios, Tetra Media Studio groups together seven production labels, notably Tetra Media Fiction, Beaubourg Audiovisuel, Macondo and Gedesel. The company is presided over by Jean-François Boyer and headed by managing director Sébastien Borivent.
Tetra Media Fiction is currently producing “Vernon Subutex,” the series adaptation of Virginie Despentes’s bestselling novel. Ordered by French pay-TV service Canal Plus, “Vernon Subutex” will be directed by Cathy Verney and is set to start shooting in March in Paris with Romain Duris starring in the main role. Emmanuel Daucé at Tetra Media Fiction is producing with Juliette Favreul Renaud and Estelle Sanson at Paris-based banner 27.11 Production.
“The dark comedic tone and format of ‘Vernon Subutex’ will be innovative for French TV,” Boyer said. “There are very few half-hour comedies in France.”
Tetra Media Fiction is also developing the local adaptation of ITV’s “Cold Feet” (pictured), the long-running comedy-drama series created by Mike Bullen about three couples experiencing the ups and downs of romance. The French remake, titled “Une belle histoire,” is being written by Frederic Krivine, the co-creator and showrunner of “A French Village.” Comprising eight one-hour episodes, “Une belle histoire” will focus on three couples who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
“It’s a dark-humored, romantic comedy series whose running theme is: What are we willing to give up to make our relationship last?” said Boyer, who added that the show will be edgy enough to lure younger audiences.
“Having access to successful ITV formats like ‘Cold Feet’ is one of the great bonuses of being part of ITV,” Boyer said. “When I bought Tetra Media in 2004, I started giving more power to creators and auteurs, and over the years we have formed fruitful relationships with talented writers and directors.”
The exec said he also started giving Daucé, the producer of “Village Francais” and “Vernon Subutex,” a 20% split on series’ profit margins.
Tetra Media Fiction is also developing with Fabien Nury a period series about the creation of the first police squads in France, which were nicknamed Brigades du Tigre (“The Tiger’s Brigades”) after Georges Clemenceau in the early 1900s. Nury is the popular comic book artist (along with Thierry Robin) of “The Death of Stalin,” which was adapted into a feature film and has earned two BAFTA nominations.
As part of the acquisition, ITV has started representing international rights to Tetra Media Studio’s programs (apart from animated series, which are handled via Tetra Media Studio’s in-house sales banner Kids First), which Borivent sees as a major boost. “ITV is giving us the creative independence and autonomy we need, and at the same time they are giving us, through their powerful sales team which comprises 120 executives, a global presence,” Borivent said.
Boyer said Tetra Media Studio is open to English-language series as long as shooting in English makes sense creatively rather than just economically. The producer mentioned “Pharaoh,” an epic series set in Ancient Egypt and developed by John Milius, co-creator and exec producer of “Rome,” as one internationally driven project which he would like to jump-start. “Pharaoh” was shelved a few years ago as Milius’ health did not allow him to pursue work on the series.