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Source: Netflix

Netflix is to open a London office from which it will commission European originals in September. 

Broadcast understands that Diego Buñuel, who joined the business from Canal Plus in April, will head factual for the division.  

The streaming giant held a private cocktail reception at Sheffield Doc/Fest  where it outlined its strategy earlier this week. 

One source said: “They mostly invited European buyers like Arte to figure out a way of working together - or scare them off.

“They want to heavily invest in their own productions in Europe - that’s why they have set up the office. They will continue to buy a few titles for worldwide and the rest will focus on original content.”

Netflix executives were out in force at the Sheffield event as the SVoD giant prepared its European push in the wake of the landmark Canadian deal it unveiled in September.

The commitment to the North American country includes a C$500m (£287m) investment over five years and the launch of its first non-US production hub.

While the exact location of the hub has yet to be confirmed, the SVoD player is shooting a growing number of originals in Toronto and Vancouver.

Netflix is looking to roll out a similar strategy in the UK, where it is thought to be also working up separate plans for an in-house production hub to feed its growing levels of investment in original content. The business made its first UK acquisition last year, buying Scottish comic book firm Millarworld.

As well as investing more at a country level, Netflix is understood to be increasingly interested in fully funding factual projects from European producers – potentially luring top talent away from traditional broadcasters.

In April, it unveiled new episodes of The Staircase, a US crime story produced by French director Jean-Xavier de Lestrade.

The streaming service, which generally keeps a low profile at festivals and markets, had a strong presence at Doc/Fest, having hired two prominent doc figures in the past year who are well known to factual producers.

Both Kate Townsend, who left BBC Storyville to join the business last summer, and Diego Buñuel, who joined in April from Canal+, were on the ground meeting with indies.

Buñuel is serving Netflix’s requisite six-month introductory stint in Los Angeles, ahead of his move to London.

While Netflix retreated from the Sundance Film Festival in January, drastically pulling back on the splashy acquisitions it has traditionally made at the Utah festival, the service was actively taking pitches in Sheffield.

“I got the sense that they are still interested in buying films, and branding them as their own originals,” remarked one US producer.

At Doc/Fest, Netflix signalled a demand for “bold, attention-grabbing ideas” that delve into public figures and global headlines. It was keen on ideas that come with strong IP and creative teams in place.

It is understood that projects in the mix include films on fashion designer John Galliano and video game Grand Theft Auto – all ideas with estates and IP secured.

This story was first reported in Broadcast.