With series like Prisoners of War and Homeland as part of his credits as Executive Producer, and formats like Rising Star developed under his role as VP of Programming and Content at Israeli network Keshet Broadcasting; Ran Telem stands in a privileged position in the international TV industry.
And a little over a year ago, the experienced Israeli executive joined Spanish company Mediapro as Head of International Content Development to promote the group's content's international expansion.
To find out more about his goals, plans and the projects set up this year for Mediapro, ttvnews spoke to Telem at the recent edition of Conecta Fiction in Santiago de Compostela.
What was your goal when you joined Mediapro and what was the company's goal when they hired you?
I joined Mediapro a little more than a year ago. When we met for the first time, it was a very interesting job interview. They asked me if I would like to join and I said, yes, but to do what? And their question was: what would you like to do? And I answered 'I know exactly what I want to do, let me tell you and let's see if it works.'
My idea was to find, locate and create great ideas around the world and work on them together, which was exactly what Mediapro was looking for at the same time. So it was a perfect fit.
So my role as Head of International Development is to search for great ideas. They can be in Spain and in Spanish, but they can also be outside of Spain and in other languages. Any great idea that I think can evolve into a great concept or a great series, is something that we would work on.
Would they be just TV series ideas, or entertainment formats as well?
My background is working both on unscripted and scripted content. I was Executive Producer on Homeland and Rising Star, two completely different shows. So for me, it's the same at Mediapro. I search for scripted and non-scripted ideas, from many different places, like Israel or England. We have a great partnership with Phileas in Spain for unscripted content and together we try to locate and create non scripted ideas.
At Mediapro we have the means to not only have ideas, but also to produce them, taking them and creating a trailer or a pilot. That enables us to take ideas from creators, companies that don't have the funding to create those pilots, and move them into that pilot stage, which a lot of times allows you to explain your ideas. Some ideas you can explain them on paper, but some are not sellable without actually watching them happen. And there is where we come in. We offer our content advice and support, but also financial advice and support.
Mediapro's plan is to become an important international player
I think Medipro, which is a huge company in Spain, has come to understand that if you want to keep growing, you need to find other markets. Because the size of the market and the possibilities in Spain, are limited. The only way to keep growing, and actually take what you have created in Spain and make more out of it, is to open the window for the rest of the world. I think it came at a great time, because the world is working like that now. People are looking for collaborations, ideas from other places. And yes, for Mediparo the idea is to become a big international player and have content offices all over the world.
It's a big change that involves not only me joining the company, but also the Mediapro offices becoming content suppliers, with us getting attached or acquiring other content companies like Oficina Burman in Argentina, and maybe more. We are planning to become a content player internationally in the world in the next few years. I would love to say months, but it's a process that takes time, and Mediparo in one hand has patience and in the other is super eager to get going.
Is Mediapro planning other acquisitions like Oficina Burman?
The process of growing internationally goes in two ways: one is creating projects, which is what I'm responsible for, and finding, locating and creating projects. And the other one is by teaming up with existing companies that are already creating and buying the company, or teaming up financially.
The reason for buying Oficina Burman is a person called Daniel Burman. He is a brilliant story teller, story writer and a brilliant director. Mediparo identified that he has a lot of stories to tell and needs help in financing and enabling him to do more than he can do by himself. Is this the last one that we do or are we looking for more? Even though I'm not the guy signing the contracts, yes, we are on the lookout for great story tellers. And if we find someone with the potential and the charisma of Daniel Burman, we will be very seriously exploring ways to work together with them.
I must say from all my meetings with Daniel Burman, that if I can work with two more people like that, I would be happy, and if I can work with 5 more people like that, I would be thrilled, and if I can work with 10 more Daniel Burmans, I would be super, extremely happy.
What results have you obtained from your first year working at Mediapro?
On the scripted side, we have two ideas already in writing. One of them is called The Paradise, it's a Finnish-Spanish co-production, to go into production in 2018 with YLE, the Finnish channel. We have another idea called The Head, a co-production with Dramacorp, the Swedish-French company. We will start writing it this summer.
On the non-scripted side, we have done some pilots. Crush is the first one, a game show with Phileas that was optioned in seven countries. Hopefully it will go into production quite soon. We have another idea called Ovo, which we presented last Miptv. It was optioned by four countries already and hopefully we can say something about it going into production quite soon.
We are going up by steps. So for the next market we hope to take more than one idea and hopefully get more ideas into production. I'm used to working in very high speed and getting shows on the air quite quickly as my experience in a broadcaster, so you can say that one year is a lot of time without having a show on the year. But on the other hand I can say that already having projects going on is good rhythm.
Will the productions be in English, Spanish or their local language?
Each of the projects that we do usually is a very local story. We believe that in order to become global, you need to be as local as possible. So, the stories that we do are produced according to the language of the story telling. Our Finnish-Spanish story will be mostly in Finnish, with some parts in Spanish, depending on the characters. The other project is a story about an international experimental lab in the South Pole, which is operated by people from several countries, so they will speak several languages, as well as English, of course.
These are series that seem to have a great international potential…
I believe a story is a story, and to tell an international story you don't have to tell the stories about a lot of people from different nations. You have to tell a story that has a reason, or an engine to it, which is a human interest. We humans share the same interests. Love, fear, thrill.... For me, it doesn't matter if it's a love story between a Finnish Police woman and a Spanish police woman, or an Italian prosecutor and his wife. It's a love story and love travels the world.
The more local, the more international then.
I say, the more genuine, the more authentic, the more you know what you are about and it comes from your guts, the better it is. The more accurate you are, the more your story can travel the world.