Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones Talk Brexit as ‘Bandersnatch,’ Working for Netflix

LILLE, France — The battle between the world’s global streaming services will be fought over talent.

Nothing more appropriate then that Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix would use his In Conversation keynote at Series Mania to highlight one of Netflix’s banner talent relationships, with “Black Mirror’s” Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones.

This was a sometimes laugh-out-loud casting call to anybody in the audience to come to work with Netflix.

Sarandos did talk about Netflix business, announcing that Netflix now has 15 productions in France in various states of production, part of a $1 billion investment in original projects in Europe.

He also reconfirmed Netflix’s larger vision, just as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings did one year before sitting on the same stage at the Lille Transatlantic Dialogues.

“It’s never been our initiative to export Hollywood to the world. Our goal is to bring the greatest storytelling in the world to the world.”

Nor was Sarandos keen on the term disruption.

“It has negative connotations. I think disruption means more like burning things down and seeing what happens, and that’s not what we are up to.”

He added: “You have to realize studios have been making films and series for 100 years. Certain things work and the connections are rooted in tradition and we don’t want to lose those things.”

Netflix wants to “preserve and improve on formats and grow storytelling,” Sarandos observed.

The conversation, however informal, did suggest at least three ways in which Netflix is breaking molds, at least from the viewpoint of Sarandos, Brooker and Jones.

“There is a lot of conventional wisdom in TV about what does and doesn’t travel. In almost every case it’s not true,” said Sarandos.

Then there’s the speed at which Netflix wants to produce. “You feel as if you are working with someone on your production, someone well aware of restrictions, the need for decisions, wanting to get something made as much as you do. The speed with which Netflix responds, it’s ridiculous.”

Netflix will take sometimes large risks, something many traditional broadcasters can’t afford.

“As a commissioner you need a good appetite for risk and stepping into things that haven’t been done before,” said Sarandos, calling “House of Cards” “a big swing from the out of the gate.”

How do you minimize risk? Talent. “The bet was if you picked the right storytellers and worlds and gave them the tools, it would pay off well,” Sarandos said.

“Bandersnatch was “quite a challenge,” said Brooker. “We had a story idea that only worked if it was interactive. There was a part where the character knows they are controlled by the viewer, so there was only the one way.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Hailee SteinfeldTribeca TV Festival 2019 Presents

    Hailee Steinfeld Announces New Single Tied to Apple TV Plus' 'Dickinson'

    Actress, singer and producer Hailee Steinfeld is set to release a new single entitled “Afterlife” on Sept. 19, a track she created for her upcoming Apple TV Plus series,”Dickinson.” “This is a song I’m incredibly proud of, and I feel like after embodying this character, I have a more fearless approach to my writing,” Steinfeld [...]

  • Rachel Bloom

    Rachel Bloom Announces Pregnancy After Emmy Win

    “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom made a special announcement after winning her Emmy for best original music and lyrics — she is pregnant. Bloom announced the news backstage on Saturday at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. She joked she had planned to reveal the news on Instagram but that doing it at the Emmys was even [...]

  • EVIL is a psychological mystery that

    TV Review: 'Evil'

    In its pilot installment, CBS’s new drama “Evil” delves into that which may lie beyond the rationally explicable. And the show itself represents something almost supernatural by 2019 standards, too: A well-made hour fueled by chemistry between its leads and a strong idea of itself. On the basis of its debut outing, which screened at [...]

  • Emmy Awards Placeholder

    Creative Arts Emmys: 'Free Solo,' 'Queer Eye' Among Big Winners on Night 1 (Full List)

    “Free Solo,” “Queer Eye,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Saturday Night Live” were among the big winners Saturday after the first night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. “Free Solo,” the National Geographic feature documentary that already claimed the Oscar earlier this year, lead the field on the [...]

  • Gary Cole, Christina Anthony, Tika Sumpter,

    'Mixed-ish' Team on Why 'All Stories About "Others" Are Necessary'

    The producers and cast of “Mixed-ish” are not out to tell a singular black and white story — but one that showcases and celebrates all shades in between. “It’s important for me across the board in all of my work to talk about ‘otherness’ and identity and real, grounded characters,” showrunner Karin Gist told Variety [...]

  • Shane Gillis

    Comedians Condemn Shane Gillis Over Slurs

    “Saturday Night Live” showrunner Lorne Michaels has yet to comment on the racist and homophobic remarks made by newly hired cast member Shane Gillis, but comedians and actors are expressing their condemnation on social media, some even asking that he be fired from the show.  Footage of Gillis’s podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content