Dutch Filmworks, the company behind hit series Undercover, is promoting Holland’s position on the international premium drama series market. Its CEO, Willem Pruijssers, spoke to ttvnews about the group’s latest initiatives.
Holland is undoubtedly one of the strongest and most innovative TV markets around the world, as the birthplace of productions like Big Brother or The Voice.
However, when it comes to fiction series, the market isn’t such a major player as maybe other territories like Sweden, Denmark, France or even Belgium. That is, until now.
Because Holland is currently going through a transformation in its TV drama production industry, with bigger budgets and an international focus; a process backed by companies like Dutch Filmworks, which through strong investments and an active search for local stories, is starting to break down barriers that seemed impossible to overcome.
The best example of this is definitely the Belgium-Holland coproduction, Undercover, which proved the international market had an appetite for this type of production.
“We are the company that took Undercover to Netflix, which aired it outside Belgium, Germany and France,” Willem Pruijssers, CEO of Dutch Filmworks, said to ttvnews.
“We are currently producing the second season, which will also air on Netflix,” he added.
This series was the one that made Pruijssers and his company really see the potential for Dutch series, given its international success and especially in territories like Latin America, Spain and Italy.
“When we got the first feedback we realized it would finally open the doors to our market,” he said.
“For some time we’ve noticed how Latin American and Spanish productions work well overseas. And now we see from Holland that we can also bring our crime stories to the world, especially through these platforms,” he added.
Following Undercover, Dutch Filmworks, which used to be an international content distributor inside Benelux, has sped up its process of turning into a producer of series with international appeal.
Raising the stakes
“Our company has been around for 22 years. We are based in Holland and for many years we acquired products at markets like Mipcom and sold them locally in Belelux. But a couple of years ago we began to invest in local productions to sell them in the international market,” he explained.
“Traditionally, Dutch series were only designed for the local market. But thanks to globalization and different soft funds, together with our own investment, we’ve been able to improve local productions with international standards,” he added.
While producing an episode used to cost around 250,000 euros, Dutch Filmworks has raised those budgets to up to 650,000 euros an episode.
“We are currently developing several products, collaborating with local producers in our territory. These last few years we’ve been able to build a very broad catalog of dramas, animations and documentary series,” he said.
Within its drama slate, the executive highlighted the series Women of the Night and Stanley, both thrillers that show the crime world of Holland.
Women of the Night
The first will premiere in Holland later this month, and revolves around drugs and high class escorts. “The high class escorts business is used to launder drug money. Plus it’s all set in Amsterdam, so it’s very sexy,” he said.
“Stanley is about Stanley Hilace, who was a famous Dutch crime lord. It’s a real story starting in the 70s, up until his assassination in 2011. The uniqueness of his story was that he imported soft drugs in Europe with the consent of the Dutch government, so this is the very special hook of the series,” he concluded.