“Wisting” was co-created by Kathrine Valen Zeiner and director Trygve Allister Diesen, and follows homicide detective William Wisting on the most difficult case of his career, hunting down a dangerous American serial killer, all the while his journalist daughter is pursuing leads that will put her right in the killer’s path. Things really hit the fan when a skeleton from Wisting’s past arises, and the inspector becomes the inspected.
The series stars “The Matrix” and “Jessica Jones” alum Carrie-Anne Moss and long-time Norwegian film and TV star Sven Nordin.
Banijay Rights is handling international sales. It’s produced by Cinenord and Good Company Films in co-production with Viaplay and Degeto Film who have broadcast rights in Norway and Germany respectively, TV3 Norway and Ripple World Pictures. Additional support was provided by the Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union and the Norwegian Film Institute.“Wisting” world premieres on the Norwegian SVOD platform Viaplay on April 11.
Variety talked with Chris Stewart, commercial director, scripted, at Banijay Rights, and series producer Anni Faurbye Fernandez ahead of the French TV market.
When Scandi Noir blew up many predicted it was a bubble that would pop, yet it has proved far more resilient. In a genre that is now so well established, how will you set ‘Wisting’ apart?
Stewart: “Wisting” combines the best of Scandinavian scripted series; cinematic visuals, in-depth characters and narrative tension, then mixes it with the star talent and the finish of a U.S. series. What is particularly interesting about “Wisting” is that, due to its main characters, the narrative is authentically trans-Atlantic. This really sets the series apart as it’s not something that has been tackled on this scale before. In addition, the way in which the English language is used in the script is entirely natural; it relates to the needs of the investigation and is not forced in any way. Ultimately, because of this, the series has a familiarity and accessibility which we hope will open up Nordic drama to a new audience that may have previously felt uncomfortable with non-English language productions. This will, no doubt, have impact in the U.S. in particular, where key players are starting to be more accepting of non-U.S. produced content.
The series is based on a pair of novels. How closely does it match up to the source material?
Stewart: “Wisting” brings with it a level of authenticity often unseen in scripted series. And, as with all good adaptations, viewers cannot help but be caught up in the compelling storyline, a storyline that sweeps the audience along and keeps them guessing to the very end. In “Wisting” there are a multitude of questions which arise and problems that need solving. To be kept thinking is something that audiences love, which explains why detective adaptations are such an evergreen genre.
Faurbye Fernandez: We used the plots from the novel “Hulemannen” (Caveman) in the first 5 episodes and the plot from the novel “Jakthundene” (Hunting Dogs) in episodes 6-10. The cases in both books are cold cases, so we also prepared a new storyline where a girl disappears, and this storyline is spread throughout the whole season – this, and the arrest of William Wisting, are not in either of the books.
Does the series end definitively or is there a possibility for more?
Stewart: While the two cases that are explored in the first series of “Wisting” are resolved, there is definitely scope for Wisting to tackle new cases. There are further books in the series ripe for adaptation, and the depth of characters is such that there is great potential for expanding the narrative and taking it in new directions.
The natural landscapes in Ep. 1 are stunning. Do you think there is there something visually specific about Scandinavia that lends itself to this type of series?
Faurbye Fernandez: Absolutely. Landscapes in Scandinavia have a special cinematographic feel of Nordic Noir, with its raw and isolated nature. The contrast between the beautiful and harsh nature lends visually to criminal genres and makes it believable for the audience. “Wisting” is set in the unique and beautiful landscape of Norway, and is shot on a cinematic scale with dramatic results. As such the setting for the series plays as important a role as its characters, echoing the tension of the narrative.
The series is starred by two big-named actors in Sven Nordin and Carrie-Anne Moss. How did they get involved with the production?
Faurbye Fernandez: We reached out to Sven quite early as we thought he would be perfect as William Wisting. We hired Avy Kaufman to cast the FBI roles and one of her suggestions was Carrie-Anne.
Stewart: Indeed, the producers of “Wisting” put together an amazing creative team and a stellar cast featuring Sven and Carrie-Ann Moss, an onscreen powerhouse. The involvement of Sven and Carrie-Ann has elevated the production and given it star currency. We were also very fortunate in that both Sven and Carrie-Ann were so heavily invested in the production from the start.