In the run-up to the San Sebastián film festival, where Movistar Plus will world-premiere two of its most ambitious series to date — “Riot Police” and “Tell Me Who I Am” — president Sergio Oslé chatted with Variety about its new phase in production, working with AMC Studios, and the runaway success of a series about what makes people kill for their ideas.
Movistar Plus seems to be entering a different production phase….
It was very clear to me that we wouldn’t be able to sustain the production levels that we were achieving in the world that we are living these days with just a scale that we could sustain on our own. We needed to expand, enter a different phase of fiction production, start working with other people, such as AMC Studios, and also for other people, in the case of Buendía Studios.
What are now Movistar Plus’ production criteria?
We have to be as mass-audience as possible, broadening the target. We don’t make series for very specific niches, but we do try to do something that is very differential, where when you see it you say: ‘Only Movistar+ would have done this.’”
You’ve said that on “La Fortuna,” you really needed an American partner.
Yes, if you wanted to fulfill Alejandro Amenábar’s vision, you needed the scale, so an American partner. But it wasn’t just a question of resources but also bringing an American perspective into the mix. There are cultural differences, the way we app-roach storytelling is different. But that can be very enriching on a story which in a way is about a culture clash between two very different countries.
Will Buendía Studios allow its partners to explore a broad gamut of sales beyond the editorial lines of its owners?
Yes. I always like to separate fiction that is Spanish and fiction made in Spain. Movistar Plus does the first, Buendía will enable us to do both.
How will Buendía Studios create added value for Movistar Plus?
It will be able to make better products, because of broader access to top talent, and to produce that top product more efficiently because of having the scale to capture synergies. It will generate value selling projects to other companies that generates a margin that increases its value for Buendía’s owners, Telefonica’s Movistar Plus and Atresmedia.
“Riot Police” looks to be in some ways in the line of “The Invisible Line,” a series that treats huge social or political issues in an intimate, character-driven way; indeed, “The Invisible Line” records the emotional, physical and political turns of the screw that push a young intellectual to commit ETA’s first murder.
We have learned, much to our surprise, that these kinds of series are extremely successful.
“The Invisible Line” has proved to be by far our most-watched TV series ever on Movistar Plus. When you start offering people this kind of fiction, which they don’t have the opportunity to watch anywhere else, you realize there’s a strong demand for it. What attracted me the most is that it’s about a phenomenon that may be repeated at some point, how people that are well-educated, seem fairly rational, end up doing terrible things.