MIAMI — In a coup for both parties, The Mediapro Studio has forged an alliance with Wild Sheep Content, the new and fast-growing Los Angeles-based content production company of Erik Barmack, the former Netflix executive who spearheaded the U.S. streaming giant’s game-changing drive into original non English-language productions around the globe – which is now a centerpiece of the U.S. streaming giant’s business model.
A game changing former Netflix vice-president of International Originals, Barmack’s philosophy was that “international shows can come from anywhere and be seen everywhere,” as he said at MipCancun. At Netflix, he proved that with shows like “La Casa de Papel” Part 3 and “Elite” from Spain, Denmark’s “The Rain,” Germany’s “Dark” and “Sacred Games” from India.
That philosophy remains at Wild Sheep whose first development slate includes a French-language version of the Stephen King novel, “The Plant,” produced with France’s Edouard de Vessine and created by top French smart genre director Alexandre Aja (“Crawl”); a scripted version of hit documentary “Cocaine Cowboys”; and “Marked for Life,” the 2013 debut novel from top Scandinavian crime writer Emelie Schepp which took Nordic Noir into a cutting-edge age of more complex female characters, as well as adding pace and action.
It remains undecided whether these projects will be put through the new Wild Sheep-The Mediapro Studio deal.
Under the terms of the strategic partnership, announced Thursday, The Mediapro Studio will partner with Wild Sheep in developing and distributing new shows and films globally.
The deal aligns two of the most dynamic forces on the new TV scene.
There are few American executives with a deeper knowledge of and enthusiasm for international drama series production than Barmack, or more dizzying range of trust relationships across the globe, and sensitivity towards the gradually defining – and often highly distinct – sensibility of streaming platforms as they look to expand beyond the U.S.
Barmack confirmed at MipCancun that, only six months after launching Wild Sheep Content, he had set up at least six shows at different streaming platforms.
He also shares Mediapro’s lack of fear of ambition. “I always ask: Are people thinking big enough? I think sometimes a [lack of] confidence is holding people back from taking huge swings,” Barmack said last November.
Announcing revenues of €2.0 billion ($2.18 billion) in 2018 – which made it bigger than Banijay before the latter bought Endemol Shine – Mediapro, best known for co-producing Woody Allen movies such as “Midnight in Paris” and Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” is also a major sports broking entity and services company with 58 offices in four continents, 14 of which develop and produce content,
Mediapro likewise is not scared of ambition, such as scoring rights to France’s Ligue 1 soccer competition. Based out of Madrid, and 10 minutes drive from Netflix’s first European Production Hub at Secuoya Studios burgeoning Madrid Content City in Tres Cantos, The Mediapro Studio is fruit of a drive into premium drama series production begun when Mediapro co-produced 2016’s “The New Pope” for HBO, Sky Italia and Canal Plus.
Signing up creative powerhouses in the new TV landscape – Israel’s Tellem (“Homeland”), Argentina’s Daniel Burman (“Victoria Small”, Spain’s Javier Olivares (“The Department of Time”) – since 2016 Mediapro has partnered on individual series with, of U.S. companies, HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime Studios, DirectTV, Fox, Viacom, Vice Studios and Disney,.
Mediapro moved waves announcing “A Dry Run,” a project in development with “The Wire’s” David Simon, about members of the Lincoln Brigade Battalion during the Spanish Civil War. It achieved the same last March, unveiling The Mediapro Studio, with 34 scripted series in different stages of production last year.
At NATPE, in the space of two days, The Mediapro Studio has announced new series with Boutique Filmes ( “To Kill a Queen,” a near-future Brazil set thriller with gender attitude); and narco-terrorism series “El Medico,” executive-produced and directed by Netflix’s “Fauda” Season 1 director Assaf Bernstein and enlisting Academy Award-nominated producer Michael Nozik (“The Motorcycle Diaries”).
“We warmly welcome Erik and Wild Sheep Content to The Mediapro Studio family,” commented Laura Fernández Espeso, corporate and television director, The Mediapro Studio.
She added: “His experience in successfully developing a wide range of popular and award-winning shows from countries across the globe make him the ideal strategic partner in developing our production and distribution objectives.”
“It’s an amazing time to connect different voices and perspectives in storytelling with audiences around the world and I’m delighted that Wild Sheep Content will be working closely with The Mediapro Studio, which has a proven capacity to successfully launch a diverse slate of content through networks and streaming companies around the world,” said Barmack, CEO of Wild Sheep Content.
(Pictured: Erik Barmack, Laura Fernández Espeso)