Around 400 hours of original drama produced per year, including 120 prime time slots for Rai 1, without forgetting animation, a sector that brings great responsibility and which, according to Luca Milano, deputy director of Rai Fiction, “is one of the cornerstones that justifies the role of public service television”.
Which are the top new dramas the Rai is bringing to the attention of foreign buyers at Mipcom this year?
Foreign drama sales are handled by Rai Com, Rai’s commercial wing, alongside independent producers.
This last year, our drama production has been packed with interesting titles for buyers: there are so many channels now and interest in foreign drama is starting to take off in the English-speaking world as well.
Recent experience tells us that series and innovative productions like “La Mamma imperfetta”, are the most popular products.
With regard to Rai Fiction, our aim at Mipcom is mainly to find potential partners for some drama projects we are currently preparing: event products such as the series about the Medici family in Florence or the series that has already been announced about “The Name of the Rose”, as well as contemporary, genre series.
Two years ago an agreement was made not torelocate the filming of Rai dramas and thus revitalize the sector and maximize Italy and its artistic beauties and landscapes, with tourism in mind, a great resource of our country that has still not been fully exploited …
To tell the truth, more than an agreement, it was a decision taken by Rai as the main actor on the Italian audiovisual market and in public service television.
It was a tool for supporting all the various components of the industry and the satellite industries in the territory but, above all, it was an editorial decision.
To tell stories about Italy you also need to show it – to our own audiences who know and recognize it the most – and to the international market.
This year Rai Fiction is investing around 200 million Euros, and this investment sustains the world of domestic audiovisual production.
There are some regions that play a more active role, from Piedmont to Lazio to Apulia, but our objective is to present the maximum possible variety of settings and stories. Recently, Rai dramas have involved 16 Italian regions out of 20. This has been achieved with the cooperation of independent com- panies and with the help of the most active territorial bodies.
Important objectives but, in the long term,don’t you risk having excessively local proposals?
There is no risk of excessively local proposals. Even if the stories are filmed in Italy, the topics covered are generally universal. And we have seen that it is the stories which have deep roots in our geographical and cultural territory that do best on an international level. Just think about the Nordic series or dramas like “Montalbano”. We could also find these types of examples in cinema. This does not mean no longer talking about what happens outside our borders: a limited supply of Rai dramas set abroad is indispensable for important facts and figures. I am thinking of the war in Bosnia, the situation in North Africa, as well as episodes like the “desaparecidos” of 30 years ago, or Middle Eastern terrorism today. Rai has a long tradition of telling stories like these which should not be lost. Naturally, as long as they are special cases and not the norm, or the reconstruction of Italian cities as film studios for foreign countries.
Which animation titles is Rai is putting the most weight behind for the next TV season and overseas?
This last year has seen a certain slowing down of many productions on an international level.
The crisis has made itself felt, some broadcasters have reduced their animation budgets, some European production companies have gone bust. It is an evolving situation and the sensation is that, recently, the production en- gine is growing again. The near future promi- ses to be very interesting again.
With regard to the next series ready to be broadcast, some strong titles are on their way like “Mia and Me 2”, “Zorro”, “Heidi”, “Topo Tip”, “Mofy”, a new tranche of “Calimero” and “Mini Ninja”, while “Foot Extreme” has now been completed.