2018 was a landmark year for Stockholm-based producer Piodor Gustafsson, head of Black Spark Film & TV whose Oscar-nominated films “Border,” “The Wife” and TV dramas “Moscow Noir “and “Sthlm Requiem” landed on screens worldwide. The producer also stepped up to his role as talent spotter/nurturer by adding the job of film and TV agent at Scandinavia’s leading Salomonsson Agency.
Over the last 25 years, through his various roles as indie producer, film consultant for the Swedish Film Institute and commissioning editor for pubcaster SVT, Gustafsson has refined his editorial flair. “As decision-maker, you get to see a lot of projects that get made and you do get a feel of what works or not,” he says.
Although widely diverse in genres, most of his productions are literary adaptations, often combining the daring with the mainstream. “Piodor harnesses unique universes and stories with a great narrative power and relatable characters,” says Françoise Guyonnet, executive managing director of TV series at Paris-based Studiocanal, which reps Black Spark’s series “Moscow Noir.”
“Moscow Noir” debuted on Swedish broadcaster C More/TV4 on Dec. 24, and is based on a novel by Camilla Grebe and Paul Leander-Engstrom, and directed by Mikael Hafstrom (“Bloodline”). The thriller was launched at MIPCOM in 2018, together with Gustafsson’s crime show “Sthlm Requiem,” which is adapted from Kristina Ohlsson’s best-selling book trilogy. Germany’s ZDF Enterprises is on board as world distributor.
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“Literary adaptations have huge advantages,” says Gustafsson. “The author has already spent a lot of time developing the characters, setting and plot. Plus if a film or a TV drama is based on a well-known IP, adapted by an established writer, you can attract top directors and talent and everything goes faster.”
Black Spark’s feature film “Border” — Oscar-nominated for best hair and make-up — was also its literary source by “Let the Right One In” author John Ajvide Lindqvist. “His universe is incredibly original, both socially realistic and elevated, as he mixes everyday situations and conflicts with genre elements,” notes the producer.
Gustafsson co-produced “The Wife,” for which Glenn Close earned a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for best actress. That was another “no brainer,” he says, as an internationally-appealing drama, based on Meg Wolitzer’s best-selling novel, adapted by Emmy-winner Jane Anderson, with Close’s star-power and Swedish director Björn Runge’s savoir-faire.
The next book-to-screen challenge for Gustafsson is the miniseries “Everything I Don’t Remember,” based on the August Prize-winning novel of the same name by Jonas Hassen Khemini, translated into more than 20 languages. In the series, a mother is looking into the circumstances surrounding her son’s sudden death. Pernilla August stars with newcomers Siham Shurafa and Armand Mirpour. The show is set to air on SVT late 2019.
A major feature project in the pipeline is “Tigers,” penned and helmed by “Borg/McEnroe” screenwriter Ronnie Sandahl. The biopic is based on former Inter Milan soccer wonderkid Martin Bengtsson’s own experience of dealing with mental illness, told in his autobiography “In the Shadow of San Siro”. Filming is set to start in May.