Endemol Shine’s Lars Blomgren Talks Growth in Scripted, the New Drama Series Landscape

BERLIN — In the run-up to the Berlinale Series Market, the Endemol Shine Group announced the launch of a new and powerful scripted label in Berlin, MadeFor Film, headed by joint CEOs, Nanni Erben and Gunnar Juncken. Here, “The Bridge” executive producer Lars Blomgren, who was appointed Endemol Shine head of scripted, EMEA in June 2018 – after already heading up its Filmlance company – paints the bigger picture:

The volume of scripted series production has ramped up dramatically in Germany – as Spain, Italy and France – over the last few years. There’s little indication that this international growth in scripted will stop. Is the demand for higher-end global series the key explanation for the creation of MadeFor Film? 

Absolutely. We are growing. In 2018, we made 50 non-English language scripted series, and 69 last year out of 92 in total for Endemol Shine.

How will you work with already established companies in Germany?

MadeFor is part of Endemol Shine Germany which produces non-scripted, so it’s a good fit.  Since I’ve been in my post,we started looking at the key territories, and how we could open try to open them up, and that’s why we’re making these changes in Berlin.

Going forward, where do you see growth coming in Germany?

Of course we have new clients in the streaming platforms, but we are also seeing a big push from the established clients across Europe and co-productions are becoming increasingly important for us. Networks are growing. We already do a lot of co-productions between Germany and the Nordics, and we have a big one in the pipeline between Germany and U.K. which I can’t talk about yet. We have many reasons to open up.

Co-production, opening up the possibilities of sharing IP, creates an alternative business model to so-called work for hire for streaming platforms… 

Today, planning for success is key. Sometimes the co-production model is an obvious choice. But sometimes you can’t make a show fit for that many partners, and then it’s better to have a single client like a streamers. So you have to be really aware of the pros and cons of the different choices….

Broadcasters these days mix linear and an OTT service. The growth of the latter looks as if its expanding audiences for key shows….

Absolutely. We’ve just seen a key example in Sweden with a show called “Caliphate.” I haven’t had a show so resonating this much since “The Bridge,” back in the day. It’s just amazing success, and this is not usual Sunday night time Nordic noir. It’s a very young adult story but still a thriller. It performed well on linear TV at Swedish public broadcaster SVT but I’ve never seen numbers like it had on SVT’s streaming service. It’s one of the biggest VOD dramas ever in Sweden.

I think “Caliphate” is also a very good example of producers pushing the envelope, as it were. Originality is now not a virtue, it’s a necessity if you want to stand out in an entertainment world where people have so many other options.

You’re right. You need to stand out and be bold, and sometimes nowadays the setup is as important as the actual story, and the only exception you have, is when you come up with just a brilliant story.

And is Endemol Shine stopping in Germany? Surely you’re planning to expand even more in other territories? 

I’d like to say first that we’re so happy with MadeFor Film, they are as good as it gets. Nanni [Erben] is one of the highest caliber producers in Germany, a primetime producer for German content, and that’s fantastic, with Gunnar Juncken next to her as co-CEO. Also joining is Ralf Husmann. We managed to get Tasja Abel., who used to work with ZDF. I worked very close to her 10 years ago when we launched “The Bridge.” Tasja has worked in co-production for a long time. The German market is so important, one of the biggest in Europe, and there are multiple co-production opportunities. It’s also a really good support system with the different regional funds and national funds. It’s a very important area and she knows it by heart.

And the future?

We’re definitely looking at other markets. The scripted side is a priority and we will certainly grow any which way we can.

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