‘Villa Santa’ Series Creator Sergio Siruela Shares First Details (EXCLUSIVE)

MADRID — Upcoming trans-Atlantic dark comedy “Villa Santa” will pitch at this year’s first edition of the FICG TV Pitchbox at the Guadalajara Intl Film Festival, a pitching and networking event hosted by Spain’s Filmarket Hub where promising TV projects can seek out co-producers, distribution or sales.

“Villa Santa” was created and is lead-written by Sergio Siruela, a Spanish ex-pat living in Mexico, who is also tentatively set to direct an as-yet undecided number of Season 1’s 13 episodes. Currently he is directing Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Mexican adaptation of the Spanish series “Los Protegidos,” which will be called “Los Elegidos” in Mexico. Writing with him on “Villa Santa” are screenwriters Jesús Prieto and Gabriela Ivette Sandoval, who wrote and directed “Okay, It’s Fine” which scored two awards at last year’s FICG Construye.

The series is produced by Alex Balassa’s Mexico-city based production outlet Balassa Films and is headed to Guadalajara with a Season 1 bible and finished pilot script looking for distribution, financing and an international sales agent, as well as a Spanish co-producer to solidify the trans-Atlantic nature of the show.

Much like the Pitchbox itself, the proposed series kicks off in Spain before expanding into Mexico. “Villa Santa” takes place during the Spain’s recent double-dip recession which sees the Rodríguez family down and out in their Iberian homeland. After news that the family’s youngest sibling Ramón has passed away, the European Rodríguezes learn they’ve been named the collective inheritors of Ramón’s Mexican estate. With domestic options dwindling, the normally sedentary family decides to pack up and ship out across the Atlantic to claim what’s been left to them in the rural Mexican town of Villa Santa.

The grass isn’t always greener however. The family takes a hit when they find that Ramón’s estate is nothing more than a funeral home on its last leg. To make matters worse, the business is in holding and can’t be sold for at least a year. Having used every resource just to get to Mexico, confident the wealth that awaited them would get them home, the expats have no choice but to take up the reigns at the funeral home. But the mortuary business will be the least of the family’s problems however, as secrets and pre-Hispanic treasures buried beneath the funeral home by brother Ramón begin to pop up and haunt them.

The idea of Spaniards coming into Mexico and staking claim on ancient treasure is hardly novel, and something that persists in Mexican culture today.

“What really caught my attention is that despite the fact that more than five centuries have passed, the theme of the Spanish conquest, and of how ‘the treasure was stolen’ is still very much alive in Latin American culture as a latent joke,” Siruela explained to Variety ahead of Guadalajara.

Modern-day Mexican and Spanish sensibilities towards culture shock and immigration will be at the heart of the series, and provide a depth that a standard fish-out-of-water sitcom could struggle to achieve.

“With ‘Villa Santa’ we try to address deep and controversial issues in a comical, satirical way where we laugh more about ourselves than our neighbor,” said Siruela.

He added: “We present some 21st Century ‘Conquistadores’ who are precisely the antithesis of the idea we have in our minds of conquerors. It’s a story where we see the absurdity of clichés, and where the clash and then mixing of cultures is seen as something positive leading to learning and self-discovery.”

“Much of Mexican society is criticized as being malinchistas (they back the foreigner rather than the local),” he went on. “It’s also true that many foreigners who come from Europe or the U.S. think they are somehow more prepared or adept as they come from a ‘First World’ culture. The reality is that Mexico and the rest of Latin America are overflowing with bright, talented individuals.”

CREDIT: Balassa Films

More TV

  • "Raven's Home" Executive Producer, Eunetta Boone.

    Eunetta Boone, Showrunner and Creator of 'One on One,' Dies at 63

    Writer-producer Eunetta Boone, creator of the UPN comedy “One on One” and showrunner of Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home,” died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 63. Boone was found dead at her home of an apparent heart attack. Boone had most recently worked as showrunner on the third season of the Disney [...]

  • Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Series

    Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Starring Dominic West Ahead of Series Mania

    The BBC and Masterpiece adaptation of “Les Miserables” will play on a numerous international channels after a raft of deals were sealed for the series, which features Dominic West, David Oyelowo, and Lily Collins. Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic has been acquired by broadcasters in Scandinavia and southern Europe, and by several buyers [...]

  • Kevin Hart

    TV News Roundup: Kevin Hart Netflix Comedy Special Drops First Trailer

    In today’s roundup, Netflix releases the official trailer for the comedy special “Kevin Hart: Irresponsible” and Josh Charles joins Showtime’s Roger Ailes series “The Loudest Voice.” DATES Season two of “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner, will premiere on Paramount Network on June 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The sophomore season will continue the story of rancher John Dutton [...]

  • adidas game of thrones

    5 New 'Game of Thrones' Collaborations Coming in Time for the Final Season

    Some of the biggest lifestyle brands in the world are jumping on the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon this spring, hoping to capitalize on the fandom and popularity of the HBO hit, as it enters its eighth and final season. From sneakers to spirits, these officially-licensed collaborations extend the characters and colors of the show beyond [...]

  • Nicole Richie

    Nicole Richie Joins Fox Comedy Pilot 'Richard Lovely'

    Nicole Richie has been cast in a series regular role in the Fox single-cam comedy pilot “Richard Lovely.” The project follows Richard Lovely (Thomas Lennon), the disgruntled author of the best-selling children’s book series, “Mr. Mouse.” He doesn’t hate children, but rather just everything about them. After a publicity fiasco involving an unexpectedly savvy 9-year-old [...]

  • Gabrielle Union Marketing Summit

    Gabrielle Union on Building a Brand as a ‘40-Year-Old Black Woman From Nebraska’

    When New York & Company approached Gabrielle Union to be their new brand ambassador and the face of her own clothing line, the actress reacted with “disbelief.” “We are not supposed to be getting those offers, I’m not supposed to be having a career resurgence, my value isn’t supposed to be this high,” Union explained [...]

  • Lachlan Murdoch

    New Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch Announces All Employees to Receive Stock in Company

    The new standalone entity Fox Corp. held a town hall on Thursday, just over a day after the official closing of the 21st Century Fox-Disney merger. Fox Corp. chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch led the meeting, at which sources say he announced that all employees would receive stock in the new company. The amount of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content