The Göteborg Film Festival’s series-focused, industry sidebar TV Drama Vision returned this week with two days of talks and panels centered on series production in Europe and the Nordic region.
The program featured over 60 on-stage speakers and was dominated by the presence of Netflix, which celebrated its 10th year in the Nordic region late last year.
“We had a great year,” Jenny Stjernströmer Björk, VP of Nordic Content at Netflix, said when asked about the streamer’s 2022 Nordic efforts on stage at the Grand Theater in Göteborg.
Björk went on to list what she described as some of the streamer’s most successful Nordic content, including the Swedish series Snabba Cash. The experienced exec also cited the Spotify origins series The Playlist, and Roar Uthaug’s folklore thriller Troll, which Björk said became the most popular non-English language film on Netflix in less than two weeks of its release.
In the way of new projects, Björk presented first-look footage from the streamer’s upcoming Danish crime thriller The Nurse. Based on a book of the same name by Kristian Corfixen, the series follows the true story of a nurse who was convicted of the attempted manslaughter of four patients at a hospital in Denmark. The Copenhagen-based SAM Productions produced the series, and Kasper Barfoed directs.
A first-look clip from the show featuring leading stars Josephine Park (Baby Fever) and Fanny Louise Bernth garnered uncharacteristic cheers from the Göteborg crowd.
This enthusiasm continued into the presentation of Dance Brothers, the first Finnish series set to debut globally on Netflix. The young adult drama series is a co-production between Netflix and Finland’s national broadcaster YLE. Max Malka of Banijay’s Endemol Shine Finland created and produced the show. The series follows two brothers, Roni (Roderick Kabanga) and Sakari (Samuel Kujala), as they struggle to make a living as professional dancers. To help finance their dance dreams, they decide to start their own club, which provides income, housing, and training space. Their unique club and impressive dance routines quickly bring them fame. Soon artistic ambitions and personal relationships collide, testing Roni and Sakari’s close bond.
Dance Brothers was a hot topic on the ground in Gothenburg thanks to creator Malka’s enthusiastic presentation as well as the show’s unique plans for a two-part release. Netflix has the premiere window for the series, so Dance Brothers will release on the streamer first before receiving a second local premiere on YLE in Finland. Netflix has yet to announce a firm release date, but Deadline hears the show is being prepped for a global launch in the spring.
Other notable speakers at TV Drama Vision included Julie Andem, creator of the juggernaut teen drama series Skam, who led a masterclass about the role of a showrunner in European series production.
“To this day, I don’t really know what a showrunner does or is,” she said when quizzed about her role as showrunner and creator of Skam.
“The most important thing is to have the strongest vision of the show, making sure everyone is working towards that. That is the most important rule for a showrunner.”
Skam, which debuted on Norwegian Broadcaster NRK in 2015, was a huge hit among young and adult audiences in Scandinavia, growing its weekly audience from 24K to 1.262M (Norway has a total population of around 5M) and outperformed many TV and streaming primetime hits in the territory.
The show was remade in multiple countries, including Holland, France, and Spain. Andem was not involved in any of the remakes excluding the US version, which she joined as showrunner and director alongside Phillip J. Bartell.
“Going to another country to remake your own show didn’t seem like the best idea, but it allowed me to open up to working in another market,” Andem said of her decision to board the US remake.
Andem continued to say that the biggest difference she found in producing Skam in the US compared to Norway was the scale of the production.
“On the first season of the Norwegian show, we were ten people creating the show. Five people on set at the most. In Austin, we were 70, 80 people, so it’s a completely different way of producing the same show,” she said.
When asked if European showrunners could learn anything from their American counterparts, Andem quickly joked: “Get more money.”