The Rai’s latest co-productions with its international partners have already been broadcast or are about to be aired: “The Charterhouse of Parma” by Stendhal, directed by Cinzia Ch.
Torrini was screened on March 4th and 5th, and “Titanic” by Ciaran Donnelly is scheduled for April 22nd.
As usual, Luca Milano is going to MipTv to look for projects and, above all, partners with whom to set up new productions on a European level at least.
Until a few years ago, people saw co-productions as a “feather in their cap”, an “extra”.
Those were the times when it was normal to look no further than the economically self-sufficient domestic market. Now, in times of restricted budgets and savings, of broadcasters who need to provide the same quantity of product without lowering their standards whilst having less money to invest, co-productions have become a necessity.
The Rai’s drama production plan for 2012 has just been approved: two part miniseries continue to be important (12 productions), but the number of longrunning series is growing. The budget will provide an investment of 170 million Euros, to be used to generate around 100 prime time programs on Raiuno: 30 million Euros less than last year for the same number of hours of programming.
This explains why MipTv has become strategic.
« MipTv’s importance is growing because we believe in the need for integration between TV companies, especially European ones”, explains Rai-Fiction’s head of marketing and animation.
“It is one of the main ways to cope with budget restrictions.
This is the best platform for products that are trying to move beyond national boundaries.
For now, it is easiest to make agreements for two part mini-series. Longer productions are more difficult but not impossible, and constitute our medium term objective for the future.
At Cannes we will be holding meetings about series that we have developed ourselves or that have been developed by others in agreement with us.
The projects are there but not the titles because they are not at a very advanced stage and do not feature in our production plans.
However, during this event we hope to be able to take some important steps forward towards their realization.
We are going to MipTv to negotiate projects for 2013 and beyond».
While we wait for this new generation of co-productions to come to maturity, there are a couple of titles that could be seen as possible models:
“Titanic” and “The return of Ulysses “.
The former has been made to mark the centenary of the launch and sinking of the famous transatlantic liner and is somewhere between a mini-series and a long-running series (there are 12 episodes).
It was made in English by the De Angelis Group, with Ireland’s Epos Film.
“The Return of Ulysses”, a co-production with Arté, has recently been given the go ahead and is one of the few titles in the new 2012 production schedule that has already begun filming (in Portugal): there will be 6 episodes directed by France’s Stéphane Giusti, starring Alessio Boni as Ulysses and Caterina Murino as Penelope.
These two productions offer a kind of model – in terms of content rather than duration –of what works on an international level: historical or literary events and characters, costume settings.
In fact the planned biopics about Oriana Fallaci (based on a screenplay by Rulli and Petraglia) and Grace Kelly (one of the last projects initiated by the late Carlo Bixio), perfectly fit into this category and a mini-series about Pavarotti is also being developed for 2013 onwards.
Another title that Milano will be working on in Cannes in April is “Anna Karenina” by Lux Vide.
«The model is the same as for “War and Peace “ and “The Charterhouse of Parma”, although Tolstoy’s heroine is only the protagonist of two episodes ».
Fairy-tales like “Pinocchio” and “Cinderella” have done well in the past: in the near future Lux Vide will be exploring the world of “1001 nights” with the classic “Aladdin”.
And Scardamaglia’s Leone Cinematografica has turned to “Barabbas” in order to attract the difficult Northern European market.
This title is, in fact, inspired by the novel of the same name by Nobel prize winner Pär Fabian Lagerkvist.
Beta film has two co-production projects with Germany that are at an advanced stage: a sentimental comedy with a modern setting and Italian-German locations («we will be making a TV movie which we hope will become a series »), and a detective film about the massacre of Duisburg, «which should go into production soon, after we have dealt with the obvious legal concerns raised by the subject matter and the characters involved».
Given the position he holds at RaiFiction, we inevitably conclude our chat with Luca Milano by talking about animation: here all the productions are obviously international.
The Rai has invested 15-16 million Euros in this genre, and Milano is proud of the fact that the amount has remained more or less the same as in previous years.
«This investment is vital to a sector that is going through a difficult time because viewer figures on generalist networks have fallen, thus discouraging investment in new productions. However, the many transfers to themed networks mean that the final share figures are being reconsidered».
The new titles which are nearly ready to be aired include the series “L’Ape Maia” 3D and “Giulio Coniglio”, a character featured in children’s books who is almost as popular as the top selling “Geronimo Stilton”.
There is also a stop motion series, “Mofy”, co-produced with Sony Japan.
«These are all series for pre-schoolers, our specialist target audience.
However we are trying to expand our productions for older kids ».
Milano adds that RaiFiction is also looking into the possibility of entering into the live drama series genre, “with small investments for the moment”, which is very successful with 8-12 year olds.