Vivek Lath, Founder and MD, GoQuest Media: We are actively pitching our CEE titles for remakes
BY Yako Molhov
GoQuest Media has been among the first international distributors to put series produced in the CEE region on the global map, starting from titles made in Ukraine, and later expanding to Serbia, Romania, the Baltics and Poland. In this interview, Founder and Managing Director Vivek Lath tells Yako Molhov that GoQuest Media also sees huge potential to sell some of their CEE titles as formats which is evidenced by recent deals for remakes in India and the U.S. Hispanic market.
Vivek Lath, Founder and Managing Director GoQuest Media
Vivek, GoQuest Media initially built its distribution network as the leading independent global distributor of South Asian content, later adding content from other regions, including titles from Central and Eastern Europe. Content from how many territories does Go Quest Media currently represent and how big is your catalog?

GoQuest Media currently represents more than 400+ titles from 40+ countries on its catalogue. Our overall acquisition strategy has changed in keeping with changes in the industry. As the team grew in number and expertise we branched out to identify more regions that produced quality content and on topics that may be locally situated but could adapt easily to an international context. Our catalog will continue to be curated based on emerging programming demands as well as market trends but our core focus on fiction will remain.

How do you explain the growing success of CEE-produced content and the booming production scene in the region?
I’ll say it’s pure ambition, the ambition to compete and invest in infrastructure that will support the creation of world class entertainment content. Ukraine was well on the path to becoming the best from the region on this aspect, Serbia and Estonia are now competently carrying the baton forward.

Which regions have the highest demand for CEE-produced content, outside of other territories in CEE?
There are no specific regions that have shown a regular inclination to content from CEE as such. There are lots of moving parts, channels and streamers are trying things out, seeing success and coming back for more and we hope that continues. While the existing pipeline may not be as big, we predict LATAM and MENA eventually generating a more consistent demand for CEE content outside of CEE.

What have been your best-sellers this year?
Erinyes and Crusade, our Polish shows from TVP, have generated great interest with Erinyes being recently licensed in Estonia, Greece and Lithuania.

GoQuest represents content from various genres: period dramas, thrillers, dramedy, crime, mystery; etc. but you don't have many comedy series. Are CEE comedies hard to distribute, are they too specific to travel to other territories?
Not necessarily, we’ve licensed the format of an Estonian dramedy Divorce in Peace to a production company in India recently. We’ve intentionally focused on dramas and other non-comedy genres because we just have more experience selling those genres. We do plan to bring comedy series to our slate later this year. This is more of a capability and business strategy related decision than a market related one.


Just recently you announced that Lithuanian hit series Troll Farm has been optioned in India by MadLab Films. How did this deal come about, and do you have negotiations for adaptation of other CEE titles from your catalog?
Absolutely, we are actively pitching our CEE titles for remakes in India. In fact, we have built several fully adapted scripts for some of these titles like the Ukrainian drama, Markuss. Our Romanian title Sacrificiul has been licensed for a Latin American remake to a major US based network. Our current remake sales have been largely done by our existing sales teams and we plan to expand to remakes being its own independent vertical in the business in the future.

When we talked last year about co-productions you said that you were looking at such deals only if they would fuel your distribution business. In January you announced your first such production - the Turkish drama series Kuma/The Other Wife - which you are producing together with VIP 2000 TV and which is a first: two non-Turkish entities to produce a Turkish premium daily series. Why did you choose this project in particular?
We had identified this project in June 2023 and had been looking for partners since then. There are several reasons why we chose this project in particular, and of course it started with the story. One way of looking at Kuma may be from a typical love story angle in the Turkish dizi style, but the story masterfully weaves in social commentary and invites the viewers to ponder the complexities of family and traditional marital dynamics. Another reason was our production partner Stellar Yapim, who we had wanted to do a project with for four years and we’re glad we are getting to work with them on Kuma. We were also lucky to have found partners like VIP 2000 TV to co-produce this project with us, they had the same ambition as us on how to make this project stand out in a highly competitive space. Another reason was having closely worked with Turkish sellers as an extended arm in APAC/Africa etc. our experience gave us the confidence that a Turkish show at the right budget can be made directly to syndication.


Will we see more GoQuest Media co-produced series in the future, is the traditional model of licensing content changing and has co-producing become a necessary element of the monetization of content?
For us co-producing is more of a vehicle to build content inventory and subsequent monetization pipelines. As a distributor/monetization company, we need consistent and predictable flow of content and rights. While we have an amazing set of content partners, our growth plans are directly related to how much (volume) and how saleable (quality) the content pipeline is. In the past twelve months a large chunk of capital has been pulled off from productions which eventually affect our pipelines. Doing such co-productions helps mitigate the supply risk for us.

This year you are returning as an exhibitor to NATPE Budapest. What are the highlights of your slate that you will be presenting at the most-established CEE TV market event? Will you be looking for partnerships with CEE players in terms of production and distribution?
For NATPE Budapest, our focus is our Turkish co-pro Kuma. In addition to that we have Erinyes, Crusade, a brand-new season of Secrets of the Grapevine and a couple of other new titles that are in the works that we are excited to bring to the market.

CEE is an important region for us. We have intentionally kept ourselves away from western Europe and gone in with full focus on CEE. Both co-pros and distribution deals in CEE will continue to be our core focus.

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