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Spain’s Bambu Expands: Taps Execs Cister, Sotelo, Boosts Mr. Fields & Friends Brand

MADRID — Bambú Producciones, a key driving force behind the international boom in Spanish TV fiction, is entering into a phase of business expansion, tapping showrunners Josep Cister and Diego Sotelo and boosting film production brand Mr. Fields & Friends Cinema.

Founded in 2007 by Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdés, and minority owned by Studiocanal, Bambú has produced a large list of high-profile TV dramas led by “Gran Hotel” and “Velvet,” whose success, especially in Latin America, proved that, for the first time ever, there was a mass audience abroad for original Spanish series.

“We are at a time when, given the market demand for Bambú content, we have decided to grow, incorporating names as important as Cister and Sotelo,” Campos told Variety.

A former TV fiction director at Lagardère’s Boomerang TV in Spain, Cister has been responsible for series such as “Old Bridge’s Secret,” “The Time In Between,” “Acacias 38” and “Presumed Guilty.”

Castelo has been involved in two recent Bambú hit productions: As screenwriter on Atresmedia’s Galician narco thriller series “Fariña” and as co-executive producer on Movistar Plus-Studiocanal mini-series “On Death Row.”

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In Spain, global players are rapidly consolidating, and driving up production levels .This April, Netflix opened its first European Production Hub at Tres Cantos’ Secuoya Studios, with 24 global originals in production or development.

Amazon is lensing its first two original fiction series in the country; next year, HBO bows “Patria,” its first Spanish original. Viacom Intl. Studios plans to launch a production center in Madrid; Apple TV, for whom Bambú is already preparing a TV series, and Disney Plus will be landing soon.

The build has meant that the number of [series] orders we have received has grown, so we have to tap the best [talent] for Bambú,” Campos said.

Both Campos and Fernández-Valdés regularly take a showrunner role at Bambú.

The company is also looking to “encourage in-house nurtured talent” such as Gema R. Neira, executive producer of Netflix’s “Alta Mar;” Sara Gonzalo, co-executive producer alongside Fernández-Valdés on “The Cable Girls” -confirmed by Netflix for Season 6-, and “Fariña” director and co-executive producer Carlos Sedes.

“Our idea is to continue growing while we can incorporate talent into the company. We want to do so with moderation and rationally, as we have done so far,” Campos said.

“The most important thing is the Bambú brand and that brand should never be damaged by a desire to produce too much,” he added.

According to Campos, Bambú operates four work lines: Commercial series, series with journalistic content, documentary series and feature films.

“We want to grow each one of these legs in coming years,” he said.

Mister Fields and Friends Cinema, the film production brand Campos and Fernández-Valdés have created outside Bambú to focus on their film production operations, aims to launch three-to-five movies every two years.

They have tapped Spanish filmmaker Isaki Lacuesta, well known for left-of-field films such as San Sebastian Golden Shell winners “The Double Steps” and “Between Two Waters,” to direct “Un año, una noche,” Mr. Fields’ third feature project, to be filmed in Spring in France in French.

Mr. Fields’ first project, scheduled for a January release in Spain, is Albert Pintó’s Madrid-set horror movie “32 Malasaña Street,” for which it’s teamed with Warner Bros., Atresmedia Cine and 4Cats. International sales are handled by Studiocanal.

Partnering again with Warner and Atresmedia Cine, also with Seville-based La Claqueta, Mr. Fields rolled from August in Andalusia and Galicia on Sedes’ romantic melodrama “El verano que vivimos,” starring Blanca Suárez (“Cable Girls”) and Javier Rey (“Fariña”).

Scheduled for a fall 2020 release, “El verano que vivimos” will be distributed internationally by Warner.

“We don’t want to be a studio, we want to be the most important producer in the Spanish-language, so we’re opening our doors to the best talent,” Campos concluded.

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