Luca Bernabei©Fabio Lovino

Source: Fabio Lovino

Luca Bernabei

Luca Bernabei became CEO of leading Italian producer Lux Vide in 2013. The company was founded in 1992 by his father Ettore Bernabei, a former director general of Rai, and Luca’s sister Matilde. Over three decades, Lux Vide has grown its reputation internationally. It was the first Italian company to win a Primetime Emmy in 1995, with the film Joseph from The Bible Collection series, and Golden Globe and Emmy nominations in 2009 for its co‑production Coco Chanel. Lux Vide has recently produced international English-­language series such as Medici (Net­flix), Leonardo (Prime Video) and Devils (Sky), and has a slate of Italian originals that have sold widely, including Don Matteo, DOC and Buongiorno, Mamma!. Fremantle acquired a 70% stake in Lux Vide in March 2022. 

Buongiorno, Mamma

Source: Lux Vide / RTI

‘Buongiorno, Mamma!’

How are you finding the drama sector at the moment?

Television series will continue to be a strong driver for national broadcasters and for streaming companies. In the past, you would read a book in the evening at home, but today you often prefer to watch an episode of a series. It’s a modern habit of entertainment today.

What is the market like in Italy for drama production — can the boom last?

It’s a bit different from the 1960s in Italy, when the industry was focused on film production. Our sister Fremantle companies, Wildside and The Apartment, are making some amazing movies as well as wonderful series with some very important directors and actors coming from cinema. TV series production now represents a fundamental part of the industry — it’s always developing, improving and refining.

Will Lux Vide move into features?

Lux Vide’s core business is focused on long-running television series.

Why is the company investing in studios and post-production facilities?

The Lux Vide studio covers 4,000 square metres, with five soundstages and a new post-production hub. Two more stages are under construction, and they will be ready by the end of 2023. The total area will then be 6,500 square metres. The studios will be used mainly by Lux Vide and our Fremantle sister companies, but we will also offer them to external companies.

The state of production in Italy is more alive than ever thanks to the arrival of the international platforms, but also because of the tax incentives that are attracting local and international productions to Italy. Demand is growing and so is the cost of production. Having all the departments internally allows us to control costs more effectively in this turbulent market.

How have things changed for Lux Vide since the deal with Fremantle last year?

During the last year we have been working on the process of integration with the Fremantle group. We have received a lot of support from them on international projects and on our strategy. Fremantle’s Italian companies — Lux Vide, Wildside and The Apartment — are very different so there is no overlap in terms of business. Fremantle gives us the opportunity to be more international and will allow Lux Vide to grow and expand its creativity. They also have enthusiastic and energetic managers like Andrea Scrosati [group COO, CEO continental Europe] and Christian Vesper [CEO global drama], who are working very hard to help us expand.

Looking back over the history of Lux Vide, how has the company changed in the past 30 years?

My father Ettore Bernabei always said, “The world is full of pipelines” — by which he meant the networks — “and we need to bring clean water into the homes of people.” His mission was to create television products for families, with a precise editorial vision and feelgood content. Thirty years later, we still try to make shows with aspirational characters that address deep themes and that try to inspire us all.

What’s coming up for Lux Vide?

We are developing Sandokan, taken from a strong European property — Emilio Salgari’s bestselling novels [first published in 1883]. It’s an epic love story and one of the first multicultural romances: the two main characters, an English lady and a Malaysian pirate, experience a life-changing adventure. It’s a big production, set in exotic places. I think people now desperately need stories that help them to escape.

Then we are working on The Rising, a historical drama series that will focus on the human and spiritual story of Jesus Christ, told from his point of view. It will be an entertaining and inspiring show, aimed at everyone, especially young people.