The second to last day of TTV+Live focused on learning about ViacomCBS’s OTT and production plans (with the reveal of the first images of Parot) and discussing the present and future of premium production in Mexico.
TTV+Live: The Future of TV Content offered its penultimate day on Thursday, December 17, which featured ViacomCBS and Mexican producers Ricardo Coeto (BTF Media) and Moisés Chiver (Alazraki Films).
First thing in the morning, a panel focused on ViacomCBS was held by Federico Cuervo, Head of Viacom International Studios (VIS) – Americas; and Eduardo Lebrija, EVP Chief Commercial Officer ViacomCBS Networks Americas, moderated by none other than Argentine actor Michel Brown.
The executives shared details about the company’s OTT plans, as well as its production efforts.
As for OTT, the company was busy this year with the launch of AVOD platform, Pluto TV, in Latin America, a unique offer that is nevertheless giving good results.
“The launch of Pluto was something experimental for us, it was a new world. There is no such product in Latin America. Of course, we already had the US experience. There are very large numbers there and of course we knew a little about how we should do it, but they are still different markets,” said Lebrija about the launch of the AVOD platform.
According to Lebrija, the launch’s timing was ideal considering AVOD’s growth prospects and the platform’s ease of use.
“It’s free and you don’t need to subscribe. You download it and you can already consume it, you don’t even need to put your email address “, he stressed.
To date, Pluto TV has 70 channels in the region, more than six million active users and a presence in 18 countries.
“And it should be noted that of the total content, only 15% is from ViacomCBS. The rest is from more than 130 different studios through global and local deals,” he highlighted.
ViacomCBS was also the protagonist this year with the announcement of the arrival of Paramount+, its SVOD bet on the “streaming war”.
“Of course we are also going to compete in the SVOD world with Paramount+, which comes in Q1 2021. It is a great bet with all the contents of CBS All Access, Showtime, CBS, Paramount and the VIS productions”, he detailed .
VIS, precisely, will be the main supplier of the original Paramunt+ productions, as Federico Cuervo commented on the panel.
“Clearly the original Paramount+ productions are going to be a very important label for the OTT and we are going to be the provider of that content. We have already announced the first project in Mexico for Paramount+ called Cecilia, which is a co-production with Oficina Burman and will have Daniel Burman as showrunner,” he explained.
“It is a series that will tell about a very current problem, the empowerment of a woman who struggles to keep her family together and that her family revolves around her and what happens when she has an accident. It is a project that we are developing at the moment to go into pre-production very quickly that we trust a lot and we are very proud as the first step of a lot of other projects that Paramount+ is going to bring to the Latin American and global market as Originals”, he added .
VIS, in fact, currently has 140 projects under development worldwide, of which 55 are from Latin America.
“This is in all types of genre, format, scale and for all types of clients and platforms,” said Cuervo.
The panel, finally, served as a platform to show the first preview of Parot, a series that VIS co-produces with Onza in Spain for RTVE.
The full panel can be accessed here: https://ttv.live/ttvplus/es/virtual/stage/41953
In the second hour, the event focused on the Mexican production industry, with a panel featuring Ricardo Coeto, co-founder and partner of BTF Media; and Moisés Chiver, founder and partner of Alazraki Films, who shared their experience of creating content in a pandemic and the importance of the showrunner in audiovisual projects.
“We have just completed a shoot for a platform that lasted 10 weeks. The protocols are too demanding and must be followed to the letter. That’s what will guarantee that we continue to have work,” Chiver began.
“For the whole crew it was a heroic task to be able to carry out the project. We had positive cases and we had to replace people in the team, carry out quarantines, rearrange the work plan, rewrite scenes… I can tell you that it is annoying but at the same time I think it has brought us a lot of rigor and order, which we lacked in the sets. We have become more austere and economical when it comes to enlarging the team, we are more orderly. You have to be much more orderly,” he added.
Along the same lines, Coeto agreed that the pandemic led to more orderly protocols and work methods, and that it has also led to a great deal of learning for the industry in general.
“We finished our four projects and did more than 5000 tests. It has been complicated and it leaves us with a great lesson, which is that when you believe that you have everything under control, you have nothing under control,” explained the BTF Media executive.
“It makes us more responsible, very aware that it is something that must be planned very well. There are things that we learned and many that remain to be learned, and the protocols and this responsible way of carrying out a set are here to stay,” he summarized.
The key to these new protocols, the executives explained, is planning, which is essential to ensure order and safety for everyone on sets and in post-production.
“Basically they are different units, independent teams that work separately. Less than 9% of the people involved in production went to the office. In fiction there was a production that by its nature allowed us to accommodate three units, with three directors working at the same time in different locations. It is also complex to make the budget last with these restrictions. The creative work with the directors helped a lot. That was what helped us to carry out these projects,” explained Coeto.
“The dynamics are going to be modified. TV taught us that one can have a late night with the driver and the guest in their homes, for example. The important thing is the content, the essence,” he added.
“No matter where you are, you must have an immediate reaction capacity,” Chiver said. “When managing multiple teams, you have to have very independent units and different stages.”
This is where the figure of the showrunner becomes key, someone who can direct and coordinate the work between the different units within each team. “Having a director or showrunner is a must,” added Chiver. “They are the people with the unique vision that they can transmit to the whole team, and take the project from idea to final version. Having first-class showrunners will be essential to continue from now on.”
Popular in recent years, Coeto explained however that the figure of the showrunner is not a new concept at all. “I believe that the name is new,” said the producer. “In Mexico, since cinema began, there were ‘all runners’. Film projects were made based on desire, there was no other way to do it. And it accompanied the vision of a creator who guided the writing, the concept, someone who led the team as the master of ceremonies. ”
“Thus, the figure of the showrunner in Mexico has had many names. The modernization of the term comes from the US, with creators like Shonda Rhimes, with great importance in the creation and development of projects. It is a figure that will change, each time the cinema and TV and the contents are taking their shape and form,” he explained.
And, when looking for these showrunners to carry the projects on their shoulders, both executives agree that talent is everywhere, it is just a matter of giving them a voice. “Talent is in every corner and you never know where you will find the next Game of Thrones. We look both here and in the US, I think we have a lot to learn from the US. We can find Mexicans and Latinos who were raised with American methodologies to create premium content. We look at universities, casting calls, events … We look for talent in every corner, both in the US and in Mexico,” said Chiver.
“Talent can be sensed. You know where it is, you have to find it and convince it,” added Coeto. “When they start, they have dreams that are far from what development work with our clients really is, and there is a learning process. The secret is to give opportunities, to believe and to offer.Yes, they gave them, the talent is there, what there is is little opportunity. We should come together to create a space and opportunity to listen to these people. There are super talented people out there.”
“My advice to new talents is to try everything. The vital thing when selling is, synthesis and clarity. At the moment when you cannot explain a project yourself, don’t waste your time. Synthesis, simplicity, go to the emotions and that’s it. If it is direct and concrete, in the end your protagonist will go from point A to point B. If you know where they start and where they end up, you have the story. Go, knock on doors, ring bells, look for opportunities”.
“I agree with everything,” Chiver said, and concluded: “You have to be very persistent. It seems like it’s the world of no, but keep going until you get the yes. Learn how to create it professionally, and eventually go out there and get started on it. individual. And whatever project you’re going to do, you must be a fan of it yourself.”
The full panel can be found here: https://ttv.live/ttvplus/en/virtual/stage/41952