Netflix is looking to create more transparency and dispel some of the myths around working with the streaming giant as it ramps up its European operations, though the company’s fast-paced shooting schedules are “not for everyone,” director of international originals Rachel Eggebeen said Tuesday morning at the Berlinale Series Market.
“It’s a fast pace that we work at,” she said. “Once we commission a show, we commit to it. We’re all in, we need partners that are all in, and we go.”
Eggebeen appeared in conversation with a group of leading European TV creators to discuss the realities of producing for the Los Gatos-based streaming service. The panel, moderated by Variety‘s international editor Manori Ravindran, featured producer-writer Jantje Friese (“Dark,” “Who Am I,” “The Silence”), producer Meta Soerensen (“Ragnaroek,” “Melancholia,” “Antichrist”), producer Fatima Varhos (“Quicksand,” “Bonus Family”), and writer-producer Anna Winger (“Unorthodox,” “Deutschland 83/86”).
As Netflix increases its production in Europe, Eggebeen said the company is committed to transparency as it continues to share more data with producers. She added that it tries to “align early on” with its creative partners by “finding the right thing for that show, and not just replicating what’s been done in the U.S.” The key is taking what’s worked for the American industry and pairing it with what might work differently in Europe. “That combination that we’re looking for is what’s most important for us,” she said.
It’s not just local producers who are forced to adapt to the company’s notoriously fast-paced culture. “We’ve learned a lot [with recent international productions], just in terms of the timelines and what makes sense here,” she said. “Our goal is to find that middle ground where we are pushing boundaries and expanding opportunities…and at the same time melding into the cultures here.”
This week Netflix released the drama series “Freud,” a co-production with Austrian public broadcaster ORF. Eggebeen said the streamer is still developing its co-production strategy, with decisions ultimately being made on a project by project basis as the company asks: “How do we get involved in this show if it’s something we really want to do?”
Building its catalog of international content means finding and developing new voices. “We also believe and are super committed to widening the pool of the stories being told, and from whom those stories are being told,” she said. “We’re super committed to diversity, and to bringing storytellers to the table who might not have previously had that opportunity.”
On Monday, the streamer rolled out a new row in its interface that will show the overall top 10 titles in a subscriber’s country, as well as the top 10 most popular series and films (when users select “TV shows” or “movies” tabs, respectively), updated daily.
Eggebeen said the new interface was a way to increase the “public joy” by allowing viewers to share in what others are watching, while also being a boon for foreign producers. “I think it’s fantastic for our local language programming, because often those shows are in the top ten of viewing,” she said.
While European Commission officials continue to hash out the details of a 30% local content quota soon to be introduced across the continent, Eggebeen said Netflix is ready for whatever that change might mean. “Organically, we’re building that already. We are well on our way in that area.” she said. “It’s just a really exciting time to be a creator in Europe right now.”