MIPTV: The X-Files and Hunted writer and producer is developing a slate of high-end television shows through his London-based Big Light Productions.
Munich-based television company Tandem Communications has inked a first look deal with US writer and producer Frank Spotnitz, best known for work on The X-Files and more recently Hunted which aired on the BBC1 in the UK and HBO Cinemax in the US.
“We are very excited to have an opportunity to work so closely with such a unique and creative talent,” said Tandem president Rosa Bauer.
Bauer made the announcement at a news conference following a mastermind keynote speech at MIPTV, alongside Olivier Courson of European studio StudioCanal, which took a majority stake in Tandem in 2011.
The prolific Munich-based, Canadian producer said she started courting Spotnitz two years ago, following his move to Europe to make Hunted - where he has since been working on European-produced series such as Left Bank Pictures’ Strike Back, his own Hunted and Atlantique’s Transporter television reboot and developing a slate of new shows through his fledgling London-based Big Light Productions.
“I read one of his scripts and was blown away and we started talking,” said Bauer. “He was busy with Strike Back and his own production Hunted.
“He’s always a busy man but I just kept bugging him until one day I asked him if we could think of a different strategy and instead of going piecemeal, make an investment with a first look distribution deal.
“What that means is that he tells us what he wants to do and he tells us about projects he has seen or read.”
There were no specific project announcements at this stage. “That will be for the next market,” added Bauer.
Spotnitz revealed he is currently working on a slate of drama series through his London-based Big Light Productions, applying some of the lessons learned during his years in the US television world, especially in terms of collaboration and the use of writers’ rooms.
“I am really happy and honoured to be making this deal with Tandem and StudioCanal,” said Spotnitz.
“I came to Europe to do Hunted and decided I didn’t want to leave and that the way to stay was to form a production company. I’ve spent the past year developing a slate of projects, some with American writers, but mostly European talent.
“They are European drama series which draw on the lessons I’ve learnt in the American system, especially in terms of collaboration and writers rooms. Everybody’s talking about co-productions but it’s difficult to do it well. Rola is one of the most accomplished at this is the world at it.”
At the MIPTV keynote and news conference afterwards, Bauer and Courson talked about their partnership as well as StudioCanal’s ambitions to become a major player in the European television industry with the acquisition of Tandem and more recently UK television company Red Productions.
Courson said the aim was to tap into European talent to make programming with a global reach.
“The goal is to produce seven international television series a year, which is a lot. It takes time,” said Courson.
“We’re also developing a slate with Red and also plan to develop partnerships with other companies through first look deals or acquisitions - we want to develop synergies between the companies to create a strong line-up.”
Tandem is currently working on two MIPTV-announced shows - Spotless and Sex, Lies and Handwriting - as well as developing a third series of Crossing Lines, having recently wrapped the second series.
“We could potentially squeeze in a fourth one in the fall and with Big Light there should definitely be one this year,” said Bauer.
Courson said it was too early to unveil Red’s slate but that he would like to greenlight one international title from the company this year.
“Red is producing 50 hours this year but it’s for UK broadcasters even though some of it has international appeal… I would really like them to produce one international series this year,” he said.
The pair said they were also delving into StudioCanal and Red’s back catalogue for titles with remake potential.
Bauer said they had already identified a Red series that would be suitable for a German-language remake. If the project went into production it would be Tandem’s first German-language series. The company has always focused on English-language fare to date.
Beyond StudioCanal’s plans for Tandem and Red, Courson revealed the company is also looking to tap into Scandinavian television talent with the creation of a company in the region.
“We have a history of working with Scandinavian talent on the film side with directors like Tomas Alfredson and Susanne Bier… but there’s a lot of talent on the television side. The idea would be to build-up a company rather than do an acquisition.”