The stars are aligning on political thriller “The Chauffeur’s Son,” a six-part series from acclaimed Spanish creative duo Isaki Lacuesta and Isa Campo.
It is one of five projects that has pulled down a muscular €1.5 million ($1.6 million) grant from Catalonia’s ICEC film-TV aimed at ensuring potential production partners that the series can bring series money to the table.
It comes after the two which won two Golden Shells at San Sebastian, for “The Double Steps” (2011) and “Between Two Waters” (2018), have demonstrated their chops for directing broad audience drama series, directing and in Campo’s case writing two episodes in Movistar+’s series “Offworld,” a Variety 2022 Best International TV Series.
“Elite’s” Zeta Studios is producing “The Chauffeur’s Son.” It has also been selected to compete at this year’s Berlinale Series Market’s Co-Pro Series, one of Europe’s foremost drama series project showcases. It hits the pitching session on Feb. 21 as one of its buzz projects, and days after Lacuesta and Campo won a best adapted screenplay Goya for Berlin Competition player “One Year, One Night.”
The title draws from the best-selling novel penned frenetically by Jordi Amat, following insatiable journalist Alfons Quintà, who cozied up to the elite and directed the Catalan public broadcasting network TV3 during former president Jordi Pujol’s tainted rule in Catalonia. Thrilling and chaotic, the series aims to wholly reveal its protagonist without atoning for his sins, with a narrative that promises an absorbing foray into corruption, greed, revenge, and questionable morality.
“Amat’s book is a great thriller that mixes the worlds of power, television, journalism and sex in the context of a country that’s being built after the dictatorship. Our intention is to create an exciting series, full of that energy from a time when everything was possible,” Lacuesta told Variety.
“I think the most difficult thing is not to whitewash a monster, because we don’t want to whitewash the figure of such a despicable gentleman. But at the same time, we have to find humanity, that light within so much darkness, because you have to travel along with him,” adds co-writer Cristóbal Garrido, a head writer on “Velvet” and “Fariña.”
“Until the book appeared, I’d never heard of him. But he was surrounded by all the important cultural, political and economic figures, he was there through all the ins and outs,” stated Campo.
With themes that will easily appeal to a global audience, the series intends to capture the author’s chaotic and punchy style while utilizing a synergistic creative process to spin the onscreen interpretation of events.
“In addition to talking a lot with Amat, I proposed shooting a documentary in parallel to the fiction series. This is allowing us to meet and interview the people who knew Quintà at different stages of his life, to incorporate what they explain to us in the scriptwriting process. The same thing happens with the television archives of the time. I think working on the documentary has made me more sensitive to recognizing what sounds false and what’s plausible. In this case, in fiction writing, we are very interested in developing characters who lie, and characters who deceive themselves,” Lacuesta stated.
“Jordi could have made a Wikipedia, he could have made a list of data without more, since that alone would be tremendously interesting. But Jordi also has a voice and he has a thesis. A figure of what that person was like, why he did what he did. I have the feeling that this is going to be in the series, that there’s a thesis and an approach and a look at the character, that’s going to be there. We’re going to break a little bit from the linearity of the book. But, that essence, the plasma on the character, is going to be there for sure,” Garrido relayed.
This is the first time the pair have teamed with Garrido, showrunner of Prime Video dramedy “Better Days.” The three assert that the script benefits immensely from their differences and varied backgrounds.
“Cristóbal brings us a wonderful imagination and all his experience in the serial world and in television rhythms. Isa is brilliant with emotions and character portraits. I think my contribution is to look for the unexpected and surprising, to think outside the box,” Lacuesta said.
Campo added, “It’s a great team, so diverse. There are four episodes, so we work together, we talk a lot, we think about the script, we organize what’s going to happen in each chapter. We’ll go back and forth so that all the scripts have the same attention, the same tone. As for the characters, we’ve created them together.”
“We’re three completely different people, with different backgrounds, with different sensibilities, and I think that somehow that always helps us to find something new. I think there’s something there, a sensitivity that makes the project different as a television product,” Garrido concluded.
“The Chauffeur’s Son” is backed by Madrid-based Zeta Studios (“Elite”), who obtained the audiovisual adaptation rights to the novel via the Scenic Rights agency in 2021. Pre-production on the series rolls on as creators delve into their research, ready the scripts – and prepare to strike a robust co-production deal that will solidify further footing across multiple markets.