Rola Bauer sees global growth in going smallDeep Impact: Tandem 10th Anniversary
Together with fellow expat business partner Tim Halkin, Rola Bauer has built Munich-based Tandem Communications into one of the world's most respected boutique producers/distributors of event programming. Bauer took time off from filming "The Pillars of the Earth" to speak with The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Roxborough about 10 years of making local programming for a global market.
The Hollywood Reporter: You set up Tandem with the idea of doing production and distribution on an international scale. How do those two sides of the business work together?
Rola Bauer: As a producer, you develop and then feed the food chain of distribution. But the only way you can feed that food chain is to understand what you should be developing. And the only way you can do that is if you are in constant contact with the buyers because you are selling to them and you know their needs. The supply end of the food chain communicates with development. And that is the circle. It's not complicated, it just requires communication. But I think it is key to supplying what broadcasters need today.
THR: What makes Tandem unique?
Bauer: We're hybrids. We are North Americans living in Europe -- living, breathing, eating, respecting Europe and its needs and we don't plan to go back to L.A. Because of that, we have been able to build a trust with the European broadcasters because we have been able to show them that we will respect their needs. And on the other side, we will fight to respect the American tastes and the needs of the American networks.
THR: How has the international television business changed since you set up Tandem?
Bauer: Before it was a very exclusive club with everyone coming from the American system. Now the people sitting around the table are coming from everywhere in the world. They are communicating with each other and are respecting each other. Because of the situation today, where advertising is going down, you need to be able to communicate and listen to everyone's needs. And I'm talking about everyone: You need to listen to the Americans' needs, to the Europeans' needs. You need to listen to what India needs, what China needs.
THR: So, how does Tandem make one program to fulfill so many different needs?
Bauer: There are different strategies to do this. You can do the local strategy, where you take one program and you localize it. A lot of companies are trying that. What we do is (produce) a local concept for a global market, a concept that is inherent to the people but transcends the boundaries. You can plop it in France, you can plop it in Germany, you can plop it in America and it will transcend those boundaries and be accessible. What makes us unique is that we are able to take these local concepts and make them global. And very key is doing them with the right partners.
THR: What's the biggest challenge for Tandem in the next 10 years?
Bauer: I'm fascinated by all the different platforms. It's not our job to get the content to the consumer. But we have to learn how to tell stories for all these different platforms, whether it's mobile phones or computer downloads. And let's not forget (television), the big mother of a platform. People say TV is eroding but the truth is that TV is still the best platform to reach millions of people simultaneously. I believe in that platform but we need to branch out into other platforms and use our creative storytelling there. And we are.