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Berlin: Netflix Talks European Content, Finding New Voices

Netflix’s programming show-and-tell at Berlin’s Drama Series Days was the hottest ticket in town Wednesday as producers showed up in droves to hear the streaming giant’s plans.

The company, which had primed the crowd with the announcement earlier of two new German originals and another from Norway, delivered an international message. “Talent has no boundaries,” said Diego Avalos, director of originals from Spain, where Netflix has been ordering new shows at a gallop, including “Money Heist” (“La Casa de Papel”), and is setting up a production hub. “IP has no boundaries, and the way IP gets adapted and talent can travel throughout our territories is something we constantly speak to each other about.”

There is no one model for an original out of Europe, the Netflix execs said, adding that they are keen to reach out to new and under-served creative voices.

“We’re definitely looking to foster voices that haven’t had an opportunity before,” said Kelly Luegenbiehl, VP of international originals for Europe, Turkey and Africa. “In particular, we have a real passion around diverse voices, female storytellers, things that maybe you have to work a little bit harder to find sometimes. We feel like by empowering those voices, that’s where we are getting the stories that feel really unique and differentiated.”

She cited the example of Italian series “Baby,” which had a young writing team whose members were between the ages of 19 and 24. “That wasn’t something that seemed scary or a risk. That seemed like an opportunity,” Luegenbiehl said. “Where we try to lean is where other people might see something as a reason not to do something. For us, that’s a reason to give it a shot.”

Luegenbiehl, a former ABC programming executive, contrasted the way her current employers work with the pilot system employed by U.S. broadcasters. “Once we commit to something and decide we are going to do it, even when it gets hard, we’re with our partners,” she said. “We’re going to get through those hard spots because we know it’s going to get on the air and get made, and that makes the process so much more satisfying. You’re not doing it in the hopes of ‘what if’; you’re doing it in the knowledge it will be seen by the world.”

Quizzed on the potential for international comedy, the execs said they were investing but accepted that it might not travel as well as some other genres. Asked by Variety whether the streamer wanted more interactive projects after the groundbreaking “Bandersnatch” episode of “Black Mirror,” Kai Finke said it did. “We’ve clearly seen demand in that space and I think we are clearly looking for more projects in that space,” said Finke, who is director of German-language acquisitions and co-productions.

“As you can see from our recent subscriber numbers, we are continuing to grow internationally, and so I think we plan to scale our investment in local series to match our growth,” Luegenbiehl said. “For us, it is still very early days. There is a lot of momentum internally at Netflix around building out our international series.”

CREDIT: Atresmedia

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