Through alliances with major players and its own production hub in Mexico, Keshet International has made Latin America a major component in its global content production and distribution strategy.
"We see amazing stories coming from Latin America," said Kelly Wright, VP, Distribution and New Business at Keshet International, who spoke to ttvnews
about the company's many projects in the region, including the highly-anticipated series Bandolero
, co-produced with Campanario Entertainment in Mexico
, which speaks to an entire generation of viewers.
Kelly Wright, VP, Distribution and New Business at Keshet International
This has been a very busy year for Keshet in terms of co-production initiatives, having joined major projects such as the highly-anticipated production Bandolero in Mexico. What can you tell us about this project?
Bandolero is a sensational project. This show grabbed us from the very beginning. First of all, we’re really excited to be involved in something created for young adults in the Latin American market. This generation is really changing the way we view content; their demands and their loyalties to programs that they like is something that’s really admirable, and something that we want to be a part of.
We see Bandolero not only as an exciting opportunity to bring special content to millennials, but also as an opportunity to create a show, almost in the vein of Homeland, that has the potential to attract a hugely passionate network of fans. The reason for this is that Bandolero is all about finding oneself, about the transition from being a child to a young adult; about following your dreams and standing up for what you believe in.
Millennials today, almost more than any group since the ‘60s, with the Civil Rights moments in America as an example, are standing up for what they believe in. They’re saying no to industries that they don’t approve of. They’re saying no to buying things and doing business that goes against their beliefs in how we should treat the planet, and how we should treat one another. This show shares those values of standing up for what you believe in, and not letting other generations and economic forces bulldoze you into submission. That’s a concept that we were really excited to get behind.
What other co-productions are currently in the works for Keshet in the region?
In terms of other co-productions, we’re currently working on a biblical series that is set in Israel but will be filmed in Brazil. This is very exciting for us. It’s not a typical Brazilian telenovela but more of a high-concept, premium series that revolves around one charismatic, profound character from the bible who is viewed by most people as a villain, but who actually had a lasting impact on Israel during the empire days. We’re looking forward to developing that and bringing it to market next year.
In this sense, how has this year's launch of Keshet MX helped the company's production business?
Launching Keshet MX was a strategic decision to help bridge our incredible business at Keshet Studios in the US with our successful formats business in Latin America. We are definitely seeing a lot of interest in our scripted properties and the production of those, as well as companies and broadcasters interested in working with us on hub opportunities, and non-scripted production opportunities as well, in Mexico. We see broadcasters wanting to showcase different ways of directing, telling stories, and shooting things, so we are placing ourselves front and center with exciting projects and production know how, which we hope you will see on the screen next year.
What role does Latin America play in your business strategy? And do Latin America's growing investments in higher-quality productions and major international projects, present new opportunities for Keshet?
Latin America is absolutely a major component in our global business strategy. We see that there is quite a lot of effort on behalf of the global SVODs to penetrate Latin America. We also understand that the history of free TV broadcasters in Latin America is undeniably dominant. As a free-to-air broadcaster in Israel, we feel a lot of empathy for what these broadcasters are going through. We have the mutual goal of retaining audiences and keeping exciting programming on the air.
I think Latin America will always be an important training ground for formats for Keshet International. We also see amazing stories emerging from Latin America. I think that these creative works are really undeniable in terms of their ability to become major international projects. What Keshet International’s role would be here is to shepherd some of these projects into a breakthrough position, where these territories can penetrate markets that they haven’t been able to break into as successfully as they have in North and South America, for example, Asia or Africa.
Keshet International’s expertise in taking non-American or smaller foreign shows and creating major buzz and interest around those titles is something that we bring to the table. These are characters that have a place in the US market as well, and we would absolutely love to work with creators, and writers, and broadcasters in Latin America to help shepherd these exciting properties into the US market.
Which new regions and partners would you like to work with?
We’re excited to work with risk takers in Latin America. It’s starting to become more and more obvious who those players are, and they are not satisfied with simply having some measure of activity in their own market. They’re also hungry for what’s beyond their borders, they’re hungry and proud of the content they’re producing, and they want other people to see it.
What contents will Keshet be presenting at the upcoming Mipcom 2017?
First of all, we’re really excited to present Masters of Dance, our return to dance was something that was a bit risky for us, but it paid off in spades. The ratings in Israel are outstanding, and we’re leading the charts for 6 out of 12 weeks. We feel that the energy that we bring to the show is reflected back to us by the audience times 100.
Masters of Dance
We also have a new game show called Domination, which differentiates itself from other game shows with a live event feel. We created an event where you have one person against the entire nation, and that nation is broken down into different categories of people, which are purposely a bit cheeky (Tinder users, Justin Bieber fans, red heads, vegans). We played on people’s stereotypes, and we asked them, do you think you can answer questions in a specific category and beat, say, red heads?
We have Celebrity Showmance, a reality series that takes different celebrities of different popularity levels and varying backgrounds, and pairs them together in unlikely matches. We also have a really strong slate of finished programs, starting with Jo Frost on 'Killer Kids', which is sort of like the Super Nanny’s return to television but with a chilling twist.
There's also the new Keshet International drama we are launching called Commandments, about what might be the most controversial issue in the army today, which is the enlistment of Orthodox Jews. While most Israelis don’t have a choice but to serve, these young men do have a choice, though it often comes at the cost of complete ostracism from their religious world. This program is the next series from the director of acclaimed Israeli series Shtisel, which is being picked up and adapted by Amazon. This is literally a ripped-from-the-headlines story, and the timing could not be better.