Bringing a spin to the traditional vampire genre, the Israeli high-budget production arrives to the international market with all the makings of a hit. From high-octane action to stunning visual effects, a love story and a reinvented mythology, the show is the complete package.
Episodes: 8 x 45'
Producer: United Studios of Israel
Distribution: Banijay Rights
Original Network: HOT
Vampires, you've seen them in every shape, size and form; but have you ever seen a Jewish vampire? And have you ever wondered why not?
Well, United Studios of Israel brings you the answer with successful series Juda, which surprised the international market at Mipcom 2017 thanks to its high-quality production, its international potential, and its fresh take on a genre that has been tried-and-tested all over the world.
"I think that what we bring to this TV show is very refreshing and original and very new, because he [writer Zion Baruch] took our religion and reimagined the vampire mythology with a fresh take on a Jewish vampire," mentioned the series director Meni Yaesh, during an interview with ttvnews back at Mipcom. "He used all the old rules we have already heard of and he gave them a twist."
Thus, the story follows Juda, a low-life gambler hustling a living in the murky depths of the criminal underworld. Borrowing money from the French mafia for a seat at a high-stakes Romanian poker game he wins big, only for his luck to run out when he is robbed and bitten by a seductive vampiress.
However, unbeknownst to her she has broken the cardinal rule of her forefathers by drinking Jewish blood and begun her own path to mortality. Facing a race against time she must choose; exterminate Juda within eight days before his transition is complete and her own fate and that of her clan is endangered, or save him and risk everything.
What follows is a sweeping tale of an unwilling hero's journey to redemption, true friendship and forbidden love as Juda is hunted by Romanian vampires, Israeli cops and French mobsters whilst running from his own fate.
"This is a show that has everything. Is not a teenage fantasy but it is something that you can watch with the whole family because it is entertaining, funny and scary. It's the complete package and you can really tell that when you see it," mentioned writer Zion Baruch, who also created and stars in the series.
A Hit at Home
The excitement generated by the show on the international market, where it was recognized at the Series Mania Festival with the International Panorama Award 2017, follows an intensely successful performance at home in Israel. Airing on HOT, the show became one of the biggest ever scripted series gaining 38% share.
"The show brought something that we never had before in Israel, the first superhero," explained Yaesh. "It also brought a series of firsts as well because there aren't a lot of action films or series in Israel, we're the first to bring this kind of thing to the country and nothing will stop us."
In addition, Baruch added that he's already "working on a second season and it's going to be much more crazy" than the first, while production is already eyeing "Paris and Morocco" as possible shooting destinations.
"The first season ended with an open ending so I think that Juda can have three or four seasons. I think people at home and internationally recognize this is something very new, fresh and exciting and they want to see more of it," added the creator.
A Hollywood-Style Production with Great Potential
For a series that seems to have it all, Juda is many things, but what stands out the most is a high-quality production that rivals any great American drama. In fact, the series is the most expensive show ever made in Israel, with unparalleled special effects and a careful consideration of location and languages.
"In the end it's not about the budget it's about the story," emphasized Baruch. "And we have a show that's good but also looks very good, very Hollywood and has an international feel. We really insisted on locations and on languages, because Dracula can't speak in English, he needs to speak in Romanian, and the French mafia moves in France and speaks in French," continued Yaesh.
"We feel the show could very much work in Latin America and the rest of the world," added Baruch. "I touch a lot of things that are easily recognizable around the whole world; we all know the history and the bible so Juda has these elements that everybody knows and is also very smart, because it starts like a crime series and then delves into a fantasy that could very well be real."