‘Black Sands’ Producer Glassriver Teams with ‘Prisoners’ Ragnar Bragason on ‘Magaluf’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Magnus Leifsson, Steinthor Hroar Steinthorsson, Ragnar
Magnus Leifsson, Steinthor Hroar Steinthorsson, Ragnar Bragason and Snjolaug Ludviksson /Courtesy of Glassriver

“Black Sands” producer Glassriver, one of Scandinavia’s fastest-growing production powerhouses, is teaming with a powerful writing duo, Ragnar Bragason and Snjolaug Ludviksdottir, to create “Magaluf.”

Currently in development, “Magaluf” marks a high-profile projects at late June’s Conecta Fiction in Spain, where it  competes in the forum’s CoPro Series section.

One of Iceland’s most consistently prized top writers and directors and creator and head writer on “Magaluf,” Bragason’s credits include movie 2013’s “Metalhead,” which wonbest Nordic film at Göteborg, and in series, “The Night Shift,” part of a larger hit dramedy franchise, and the admired international sales hit “Prisoners.”

A stand-up comedian, Ludviksdottir co-writes. “She is a wonderful writer and writes three of the six episodes and on top of that ensuring that the female characters really come to life in a meaningful way,” said Glassriver co-owner Hörður Rúnarsson, a producer on the show with Arnbjorg Haflidadottir (“Black Sands”).

Ludviksdottir’s credits include penning Season 2 of international hit crime series “Stella Blomqvist,” Viaplay’s first Icelandic original.

Commercials and music video director Magnus Leifsson, whose debut short film “Dovetail” won Short Film of the Year at the 2019 Icelandic Film and TV awards, is attached to direct. “Magaluf” will star Steinthor Hroar Steinthorsson (aka Steindi Jr), one of Iceland’s most popular comedians and lead of the “Under the Tree,” Iceland’s entry for the Oscars in what is now the International Feature film category.

Commissioned by Iceland’s Channel 2, “Magaluf” weighs in as a light, nostalgic romantic comedy with dramatic undertones set in 1979. In a desperate attempt to win back Karen, his childhood sweetheart, Halli, a houndog Reykjavik D.J., becomes a tour guide in Mallorca, where Karen is shooting a documentary about a beauty pageant.

Herding a group of Icelandic tourists on a Mallorca package holiday, Halli’s a fish out of water, having never been abroad. Karen turns up with her Danish boyfriend, his wards have their own problems. Halli, until recently a feckless teen at heart, has to grow up fast.

A Double Coming of Age Story

“Magaluf” will gently rib an age with no Internet nor mobiles, where Icelanders, a reserved and isolated people, would pack canned food on holiday on them. “

“It’s as if they believed that Spaniards died from eating their own food, but something that is relatable to anyone or any nation traveling for the first time,” said Rúnarsson.

Halli begins the show as very much of his time. Many of the characters around him, led by the worldly Karen, are before their times, however, Karen’s views on the sexism of pageants causing her to be dismissed as a raving feminist, while one of Halli’s best friends battles to come out of the closet.

In this sense, said Rúnarsson, “Magaluf” is the story of a man and a nation’s coming of age, “holding a mirror to the past and showing how much Iceland has achieved as a nation.”

The first female president in the world won office in Iceland in 1980. The island state now rates as one of the most progressive on LGBTQ rights in the world.

80% of the eight-part half hour will shoot in Spain or at another beach location, said Rúnarsson. Most will be in Icelandic, and someone English, since characters often engage with other foreigners, with a limited use of Spanish, he added.

Aimed at exercising a broad audience appeal, “Magaluf” can appeal to younger audiences, featuring lead characters in their thirties, as well as offer nostalgia viewing for older demos who knew these times, Rúnarsson added. The series could “absolutely” play on free-to-air broadcast networks, he said.

He added: “‘Magaluf’ provides a perfect escapism back to a time where we were more naive and shows how far we’ve come on human rights issues such as gender equality and LGBTQ rights.”

Glassriver Expansion

“Magaluf” forms part of Glassriver’s strategic expansion. That cuts several ways. It is Glassriver’s first period series, as the company seeks to broaden ever more its output. “We definitely want to stay versatile in terms of content,” said Rúnarsson,

Glassriver also aims to bring on new talents. “We give them time, focus and a home to to hone their talents and capabilities of bringing stories to life,” says Rúnarsson, citing Leifsson and Katrín Björgvinsdóttir, director of edgy drama “As Long As We Live,” which goes into production next month.

A third front is ever larger international ambition. “As Long As We Live” stars “The Tudors’” Anita Briem and “Mr. Robot’s”  Martin Wallström, from Sweden. Glassriver and Portugal’s SPi are advancing well on development of crime drama “Cold Haven,” pitched at 2021’s Series Mania.

“Some three of four titles over the next two to three years could have a Spanish angle to them. Spain holds a very special place for Icelanders,” Rúnarsson said.

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Horour Runarsson Courtesy of Horour Runarsson