Daniele, you are the new Head of Mediaset Fiction. What are your plans for this division?
I agreed to become the head of drama for Mediaset basically for two reasons: I wanted to come back home as I started as a screenwriter at Mediaset, and I wanted to bring fiction back to Mediaset, to its role as a proven Italian brand among international players.
Will we see an increase of Mediaset-produced dramas?
The increase of drama in volume depends on various factors, including the results of the productions we are doing: the better we perform, the more the volume will increase.
What are the genres you are focused on?
A generalist TV must have a more colorful and diversified offer, so more genres are possible, but obviously the crime genre in its thousand variations remains one of the most important ones.
You were one of the writers behind super hit Suburra. Is Mediaset looking to produce such high-end crime dramas as well?
A drama series like Suburra on Mediaset, and in particular on Canale 5…I don’t know if Suburra could make big numbers in terms of ratings. This doesn’t mean that we can’t produce high-end crime dramas for Canale 5, but we must find the right language to tell the story on our channels.
Rai has been dominating the local fiction business both in Italy and internationally. How do you plan to change that? What should be the next stage for the Mediaset brand?
It’s true Rai has dominated fiction for some years now and I must admit that Tinni Andreatta has done an extraordinary job. However, we have to remember that until a few years ago it was Mediaset which dominated the TV landscape. We went through a negative cycle, also due to the economic crisis and the advertising slowdown, but now we are trying to get back to the top. We want to rediscover our role both on the local and the international markets.
What new projects do you have in the pipeline?
Many projects, many talks, many discussions…we are working.
Non Mentire, the local version of Liar, aired with solid ratings on Canale 5. Are you going to buy more scripted formats following this success?
Never say never. My role is to produce original products and to make them travel abroad.
Are you planning to work with writers from abroad and develop co-productions with other major broadcasters?
We are already working with screenwriters, both English and American, on various projects for the local and international markets. There is also the will to work with other major broadcasters. It’s not easy to find projects to produce together, but I am confident that we will find something and work together.
One of the new hits of Canale 5 this spring is the thriller mystery series The Silence of Water. The story starts with the disappearance of the adolescent Laura Mancini. The investigation led by the cop Andrea Baldini brings to light the dark side and secrets hidden behind the proper facade of a small village at the seaside. The arrival of cop Luisa Ferrari from the city to help with the investigation makes things even more complicated. But the investigating duo discovers that nobody is as they seem. Leonardo Valenti, who created the plot together with Jean Ludwigg talked about the inspiration for the series.
What type of international drama inspired you for this story?
I was inspired more by the British series, where the drama has equal importance to the crime element, than the Nordic series, except for The Killing (and I was influenced by it) which in fact, tends to privilege the crime element rather than the drama. The reference series were in order: Broadchurch, Top of the Lake, May Day and, for some things, The Killing.
Some media even wrote that it was the remake of Broadchurch?
No, it’s not, it’s a misunderstanding. The Silence of Water is an original series. The main plot and the theme are completely different. It is a story about maternity and paternity, about what it means to be or not to be parents. And on another deeper and less visible level it is the story about the woman’s position in our society, struggling everyday with manliness. I would rather define it an Italian murder mystery.
Manuela Caputi, Head of Sales at Mediaset Distribution, is convinced that the new titles in the catalog will attract the interest of international buyers.
Manuela, what premieres have you prepared for the MIPTV market?
We have two important titles for MIPTV: the medical series Doctor Giò (8x50’ episodes) produced by Picomedia and the investigation thriller The Silence of Water (8x50’) produced by Vela Film. The first one is a revival of the drama series aired in 1997 and 1998. Starring Barbara d’Urso, a very well-known TV personality in Italy, who plays the role of a gynecologist who fights for women and wants to open a centre for anti-violence against women. The Silence of Water is set in a small community of northern Italy (Trieste), shocked by the disappearance of a teenager. Aired by Canale 5 in primetime, it launched with a solid 3.5 million viewers and 15% share. The response was very good on social media and in the Italian press as it was really appreciated for the high quality and the thriller with the mystery elements: at the beginning there are many persons involved and it’s intriguing, the climax is very intense, and the audience is tuned to the story in order to discover the killer… Both series are produced with a very high production quality, photography, locations.
How do you develop your strategy ahead of the markets in order to optimize your catalog to the needs of the buyers?
The first thing that comes to my mind when I meet my clients is to listen to their needs: what are they looking for, which slots they look products for, what’s the target group or what’s the trend of the channel. It’s very important to have a general knowledge of the clients and the channels in order to fit the slots and sell the most suitable titles. Clients know better their own needs and we know better our catalog. Thanks to a quite varied catalog, which goes from a very extensive movie library to scripted drama, factual, documentaries and finally unscripted, we are in the position to cover different requests coming from different clients.
The Silence of Water
What are the recent trends you have observed in terms of buyers’ preferences? What are broadcasters looking for?
It depends on the channels and on their slots. Some clients are looking for long-running series liked daily soap to fit a daytime slot and others are looking for procedural drama, crime and investigative. We don’t offer only mafia series, we also present melodrama, stories with passion and vengeance, love and family dramas. There is also a request for period drama like Love and Sacrifice set in the beautiful Carrara marble quarries in Tuscany.
What are the key territories interested in Italian drama series? Which are the bestselling titles?
The whole world is interested in our dramas of course! Some territories are more interested such as CEE regions from Romania, Croatia, Georgia and Ukraine. Some titles had a very good response, like the thriller/sentimental series Tuscan Passion, the period drama Love and Sacrifice or our crime line series like Antimafia Squad and Code Name Solo.
You also offer several scripted formats. Is the scripted drama format business growing?
Yes, there is a growing demand for scripted drama. Recently, we optioned a remake of the family saga A Matter of Respect (L’Onore e il Rispetto) in Turkey, the cop series Code Name Solo and the soap Living (Vivere) in Mexico. Beside these titles, the family saga Tuscan Passion was produced in Malaysia and in Turkey, and optioned in Mexico.