Former Netflix executive Tania Zarak Quintana has joined Iceland’s Truenorth, one of the leading production services companies in the Nordics, as it looks to ramp up development of original content.
The production outfit is developing a slate of original shows including “Starlungar,” a 10-part series it’s dubbed “‘The Godfather’ of the 13th century” that follows four wealthy and powerful clans as they fight to gain power over Iceland, and “Eyland,” a dystopian series set in present-day Iceland that questions what would happen if communication with the rest of the world suddenly stopped.
Truenorth is also attached to co-produce a feature-film adaptation of bestselling Icelandic author Ragnar Jónasson’s thriller “Outside,” which was optioned by Scott Free Productions.
Quintana worked in 2018-19 as a manager in Netflix’s international originals division. In 2020, she relocated to Iceland due to the coronavirus pandemic. As VP of development, she’s been tapped to spearhead efforts to build on Truenorth’s sterling reputation for servicing Hollywood studio projects – including “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Paramount’s “The Tomorrow War” with Chris Pratt, Netflix’s “The Midnight Sky” and Apple TV+ show “The Foundation” – by beefing up its slate of original content.
In 2019, the company co-produced Netflix’s “The Valhalla Murders,” an eight-part crime series produced by Truenorth’s Kristinn Thordarson and Leifur B. Dagfinnsson with Mystery Productions’ David Oskar Olafsson for Icelandic public broadcaster RÚV. It was the first Icelandic series to bow on the streaming platform.
Since then, said Quintana, “it has been [CEO and founder Dagfinnsson’s] desire…to focus on original content more ambitiously,” adding: “The fact that this position was created for me says a lot about where the industry in Iceland is headed. And Truenorth is, once again, the trailblazer.”
Raised in Mexico, Quintana said she sees similarities between the Mexican and Icelandic film industries “in that, historically, both countries have been backdrops for Hollywood ever since Hollywood was founded.” Both boast top-notch crews and production servicing companies, she added, with Truenorth among the industry leaders across Scandinavia.
Founded in Iceland in 2003, the company has grown to include offices in Norway, Greenland, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Spain and the Canary Islands.
Quintana said she sees development as “multifaceted and multidirectional,” adding that her goal is “to work with up-and-coming storytellers with unique points of view, not only from Iceland but from all over the world.
“We are on the lookout for creators who can foster forward-facing narratives and new audiovisual proposals, with both an international appeal and a distinct cultural personality.”
Her long-term goal is “to scale up, to develop projects of global scale [and] to originate new concepts and formats and establish co-production opportunities with other companies worldwide.
“If there’s something I learned at Netflix it’s that the more local a story is, the better it travels,” she added. “And Iceland is full of stories – there’s a 99.9% literacy rate! The world is ready for Icelandic content.”