London-based DCD Rights is launching a brand-new eight-hour second season of Spanish-Portuguese crime thriller “Dry Water.”
A slice of Galician and Portuguese Noir, “Dry Water” marks part of a pioneering push by Spain’s Portocabo, producer of Movistar Plus smash hit “Hierro,” to take classic free-to-air scripted in its native Galicia, north-west Spain, into a premium TV age.
The MipTV launch comes as HBO has boarded “Dry Water” season two, now set up as a co-production between Spain’s Portocabo and Portugal’s SPi with the participation of Portuguese public broadcaster RTP, HBO Spain & Portugal and TVG Galicia, the state TV in Galicia.
In a pre-MipTV deal made via DCD Rights, the first series of “Dry Water,” launched at 2019’s Mipcom, has just been acquired by IVI for its feed of 15 countries across Russia, CIS and the Baltic states. The first series of the thriller was previously picked up in Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Portuguese-speaking Africa.
“The timing of the second season of ‘Dry Water’ is perfect to meet the growing demand from new and current SVOD platforms as well as the broadcast channels in Europe who look for crime and thrillers,” said Nicky Davies Williams, CEO, DCD Rights.
Davies Williams added: “The confidence of a second season also boosts our Latin American conversations as well as North American where we have similarly strong interest from VOD and SVOD platforms looking for Spanish-speaking content.”
Inspired by the success of phenomena such as 1990s Nordic Noir and Netflix’s “Money Heist,” entrepreneurial producers in Galicia, in Northwest Spain, have recently been making waves with gritty crime thrillers.
A Galician TV powerhouse, Portocabo, enjoyed international success with its 2018 crime series “Hierro,” co-produced with Movistar Plus, Arte, and France’s Atlantique Productions, and in 2020 racked up strong ratings in Portugal and Spain for the six-hour season one of its arms-trafficking drama-thriller, “Dry Water” (“Auga Seca”), inspired by the true-life story of theft of military ammunitions in Portugal in 2017.
The company has just wrapped its 11-week shoot for the eight-part second season, once again featuring key characters Teresa (Victoria Guerra) who tries to unravel the connection between her godfather, whom she once adulated, and the suspicious death of her brother. The second season once more lenses in the port cities of Vigo, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal.
“It is exciting that new dramas of this level are emerging at a local level and with the likes of HBO being a part of the second season of ‘Dry Water’ it demonstrates a recognition of the strength of the new models of production as well as this drama in particular,” said Davies Williams.
Variety talked to lead producer Alfonso Blanco about the series.
Why have you decided to launch “Dry Water” as a 14-part series for the international market?
Season one was ready in May 2020 but due to the pandemic, many markets were cancelled, or had a major downturn in activity, so we decided it made more sense to sell the project as a single 14-part series, which works better for the international market. The main character arcs were conceived from the outset over two seasons, and season one ended with a cliffhanger.
How would you compare the two seasons in terms of themes, characters and production values?
For both seasons we have achieved high production values, with the budget for season two rising 35%. This time, a higher proportion of the story takes place in Portugal, and there are many more action scenes. The character arcs are reinforced, as Teresa tries to unravel the dark side to the father figure she once used to adulate.
With the success of your 2018 crime drama series “Hierro” and season one of “Dry Water,” is this a good time for crime drama series from Galicia?
It’s a fantastic moment for Galician producers, perhaps a bit like Nordic Noir in the 1990s. Netflix’s “Money Heist” was an obvious game changer, and our 2017 series “Hierro” confirmed that whereas Scandinavian thrillers such as “The Bridge” had to be remade in English, Spanish-language crime dramas can travel the world.
There’s also a clear link between Galicia and Portugal….
Yes, the Galician-Portuguese dimension is especially interesting because we can explore the moody atmosphere of Southern Europe’s Atlantic zone, which is very different from the Madrid-based atmosphere of “Money Heist,” or even “Hierro”, that is set in the Canary Islands. As a Galician, I’m on a closer wavelength with Portuguese people, and you feel these shared cultural links in “Dry Water.” Galician Noir offers thrillers with a different look, and are more emotional. Ultimately, we are Latinos, more emotional. For example, if a character dies, it affects us. There is also a melancholic side to the Atlantic region. We are more visceral, police investigations are often flawed, the urban atmosphere is more chaotic. This is great inspiration for drama.
How important has been the involvement of DCD Rights as an international distributor?
DCD Rights has backed both seasons and is a core partner. They put up seed capital and an MG, which is very unusual for a non-English language project. They brought us market vision and read all the scripts, giving us detailed feedback. We are the project leader and I’m the showrunner. The producers keep all the IP. I believe there is no other example in Spain where 100% of the rights are kept. I think this is a good model for producers, and offers major upside potential from world sales. Season one has been sold to some Eastern European territories and we have various pre-sale agreements. It’s much easier to sell a 14-part series and the decision to concentrate both seasons as a single package has definitely paid off.
What are your upcoming projects?
We have a very ambitious crime drama project that will shoot this summer, a co-production between France and Spain, but I can’t yet announce the details. We have also just premiered a comedy feature film, “Cuñados,” and are developing live action projects for kids. Our idea is to develop these three editorial lines: Crime drama, comedy and kids.