Casta Diva enters the TV business with big plans
BY Maria Chiara Duranti
In January this year, the communication giant Casta Diva Group announced the creation of Casta Diva Entertainment as part of Casta Diva Pictures, marking the Group’s official entrance in the TV production business. With offices in 10 countries worldwide, Casta Diva now has the ambition to become a major player in the global TV industry. The company is already working on its first original projects and series and has just announced the first additions to its formats catalog: the new dating shows Runaway Bride and Once Upon a Time, Love. Fabio Nesi, CEO of Casta Diva Pictures, and Massimo Righini, Chief Creative Officer, talked in detail about Casta Diva’s strategy and upcoming projects in this exclusive interview with Maria Chiara Duranti for TVBIZZ Magazine.
You recently launched Casta Diva Entertainment, the television arm of Casta Diva Pictures. Why did you decide to enter the TV segment in Italy?
Fabio: The Group has always been close to the television industry; now, we want to establish ourselves as quality content providers on the Italian scene. This is a strategic choice that we had already made, as shareholders, in the business plan, prior to the pandemic. The channels for television content are multiplying, thanks to the development of over the top platforms: it is a strategic segment for us to target.

What potential do you see for growth?
Massimo: In Italy, the market is not crowded. Although there are several companies, they have their own specific characteristics and do not compete on the same level: there are companies that have a large range of international titles, whereas others only produce docu-series, and those that prefer branded content.

If high levels of production are delivered, strong creativity and relative budget for this period, there is still room for novelties in Italy. Those who do not adapt to the situation, however, will not be able to move forward.

From the beginning, I thought about creating a hub to produce original products and my intuition turned out to be right: even if we have some international titles, it is our original creativity that has achieved the hoped-for success.

Massimo, you have extensive experience in the reality genre. Will that be the main focus of your productions?
Massimo: Reality TV is a big part of my expertise. Casta Diva Entertainment will focus on dating, reality, docu-series and factual. Nowadays, these products are selling the most. Casta Diva Entertainment’s products must convey emotions, unleash something in the audience, first in TV executives all over the world.

We are promoting two new original dating shows: Runaway Bride and Once Upon a Time, Love. We are proud of these projects as these are already being discussed with two different players. Our aim is to sell the formats abroad and then be able to adapt all over the world.

Do you already have some projects in development? Will you rely more on original ideas or buy formats from other countries?
Massimo: We are already producing three titles: two titles for discovery+ and one for Motor Trend. In addition, we are planning to go on air on Rai 2, with a celebrity, both in Italy and in the USA. In the summer, we should launch three other programs. We have selected two foreign titles: My Life According to the Bible by Small World and Couple's Therapy by CBS. These are arousing curiosity, and we are producing the Italian versions.

Can you reveal some of the titles from your scripted catalog? What fiction genres will you be developing?
Massimo: In relation to scripted, we are working with some important film and series writers. We cannot reveal the titles of the products being defined with some players, but we hint at the direction we are taking. The four stories we have chosen, after careful consideration, improvements, and adaptations according to the briefs, are based on true stories, on real events. With one of them, we will talk about the Second World War from a different point of view; to produce another one, we have acquired the rights to some songs to create a musical. And again: with one of the stories, we will go back in time, during Dolcevita in Via Veneto in Rome and finally, with the last one, we will talk about the birth of nurses.

How are you cooperating with international partners in terms of production?
Massimo: In comparison to other companies, thanks to Fabio Nesi’s creativity and experience, Casta Diva Entertainment has immediately decided to open to co-productions. As you know, the Group has 10 offices around the world: we want to involve professionals from other countries for some titles that we are about to produce. We will involve the Miami branch for a very important product.

Will you be making content for each of those markets?
Massimo: Our goal is to export our products. Gradually, we want to find or create professional skills for each location, to enhance the productions and creations of the headquarters in Italy, between Rome and Milan.

The pandemic gave an additional boost to the already popular streaming giants. Will you have a separate unit producing content for Netflix and the likes?
Massimo: The creative hub will be the same, with one difference: the scripted part will focus on collaborations with Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ / Star briefs. When we work with Amazon, part of the production will be dedicated to the Amazon project, exclusively, until its conclusion. These new players will allow us to improve the level of creativity and production, so we decided to dedicate part of our company to these clients: it will be educational.

You also announced that you will be developing branded content for advertisers which is the specialty of Casta Diva. What novelties will you bring to the productions aimed for television?
Fabio: The goal is to merge television content with our visual culture and our know-how, gained by participating in international competitions with global competitors. Massimo and I asked ourselves on how to tap into this "dimension", because it represents a strong incentive to practice excellence, which sometimes even exceeds our clients’ expectations. For the last Olympics, we created a project for Gillette, shooting between Barcelona and Manchester, broadcast on all the major channels in the world. To do this, we had to ensure imaginative standards that not many can practice. Now, we are thinking of involving Casta Diva Entertainment in a project for the Latin American market, handled by our headquarters in Buenos Aires, because we would like to market the rights of our content in the areas where we are present. Another example of our potential lies in a recent project produced in Cape Town: an important brand commercial for one of the world's largest agencies, which allowed us to enter South African theaters.
A recognized Creative Executive with more than 20 years of experience in media entertainment industries, Massimo Righini is the Chief Creative Officer of Casta Diva Entertainment. Over the years has worked across different unscripted genres (reality, talent, game, factual, comedy, light entertainment, documentary), devising and writing more than 80 programs. Between 2017 and 2020 he was Chief Creative Officer of NonPanic (Banijay Group). Prior to that, he produced programs for Mediaset and collaborated with a number of Italian producers. He was also Head of Channel, Programming & Content of Agon Channel.
Fabio Nesi is the CEO of Casta Diva Pictures and Partner and CCO within the Casta Diva Group. Right after his degree at the G.I.A. in New York City, he started working in the international diamond business. After a stint as a wholesale dealer, he moved on to open his business in Milan, Italy. But his passion for cinema led to his entrance in cinema production in 1998. He started as assistant, then junior producer, and finally partner. He has shot many commercials all around the world for a good deal of international clients, working in particular with the Far East market. He joined Casta Diva Pictures in 2006.
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