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ITV Studios’ Julie Meldal-Johnsen on European Series, ‘Experimental Risk Taking’

Julie Meldal-Johnsen, executive VP of global content at ITV Studios, said Wednesday that the company’s continuing move into European drama through its various subsidiaries was creating unique opportunities across the continent.

Presenting the group’s upcoming new series at the Berlinale Series Market and Conference, Meldal-Johnsen spoke to Variety about local productions that are aimed at global auds.

“It’s so exciting to have the infrastructure and the ambition and the experimental risk taking that our studio allows us to do,” Meldal-Johnsen said, pointing to the ambitious historical drama “Romulus” as an example. The series, produced by Italy’s Cattleya and Groenlandia, explores the origin of Rome and will be shot in Latin.

“That’s crazy but brilliant,” Meldal-Johnsen quipped. “It’ll be subbed and dubbed into all sorts of different languages and no one will understand it, but it just gives it that sort of flavor and from what we’ve seen of it it’s looking excellent, very visceral. It’s about love and betrayal and family and brotherhood. It’s very ambitious and it’s so exciting that we’re in a time that we can do that.”

The series has already sold to HBO Europe and SBS in Australia.

Despite ITV Studios’ sizeable production network, which includes subsidiaries like Cattleya and France’s Beaubourg Stories, producer of French crime drama “Balthazar,” Meldal-Johnsen said the company was still very much open to third-party producers.

“We’ve still got an insatiable appetite. There’s huge talent – a lot of you in this room and elsewhere – that we’d love to work with, some that we already are, some that we haven’t, but I’m going to find you.”

Apple Tree Prods.’s upcoming new series “Blackwater,” based on Kerstin Ekman’s crime novel of the same name, has become the latest title added to ITV Studios’ bountiful international distribution slate.

Piv Bernth, CEO and creative and executive producer at the Copenhagen-based Apple Tree, an ITV Studios partner, joined Meldal-Johnsen at the discussion, which was organized by Variety.

Commissioned by Swedish broadcaster SVT, “Blackwater” is Apple Tree’s second production and follows the Netflix original “Equinox,” a six-part supernatural thriller based on the “Equinox 1985” podcast.

Commenting on her work with Netflix, Bernth applauded the freedom and flexibility afforded to her by the streaming giant.

“The advantage of working for Netflix for me is that when they like a show and you agree on the concept, they go straight to series. And then you’re in it together. You can disagree and fight, you can get annoyed and frustrated, but that way of working is much more transparent.”

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