Berlin: 'Young Pope' Producer Joins Forces With Argentine Director Daniel Burman

Courtesy of the Berlin Film Festival
Daniel Burman

Spanish TV giant Mediapro will take a stake in his Buenos Aires-based production company as they co-develop and co-produce high-end drama series.

Spanish television giant Mediapro, a producer on HBO's The Young Pope, has taken a "substantial" stake in Oficina Burman, the Argentine production company headed by prolific writer-director-producer Daniel Burman.

Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Burman, who is behind Edha, a fashion-centered drama that will be the first Netflix original produced in Argentina, announced the deal, together with Mediapro boss Jaume Roures in Berlin on Thursday. The agreement will see the two companies co-develop and co-produce high-end television series out of the Latin American market.

"We are trying to break the model in Latin America, where the creatives sit on one side, with no connection to the market, and the producers on the other side, with no connection to the storytelling," said Burman. "We want to bring the best creatives in the region together with the greatest production capabilities to produce the best possible productions."

Burman and Mediapro say they have 20 series projects in various stages of development. Two series are set to go into production next year: Stroke, a dark comedy written by Burman, about an Argentine patriarch whose sudden stroke sends his family into disarray; and IOSI: The Reformed Spy, an adaptation of the nonfiction book by Miriam Lewin and Horacio Lutzky about the Argentine cop who infiltrated the country's Jewish community and ended up giving vital information to the perpetrators of an attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association. The first season of Stroke will be 13 one-hour episodes, and IOSI will be 10 one-hours.

The deal with Burman follows Mediapro's hires last year of Emmy-winning producer Ran Telem (Homeland) to run the company's international content development division, and Stephen Johnstone, a former director at ad media giant WPP's Group M Entertainment, to run its newly launched U.K. production arm.

Roures said Mediapro's goal was to create a true Spanish-language studio for film and high-end TV. While the focus will be on Hispanic productions, Mediapro said it was also open to making English-language series such as The Young Pope, which the group co-produced with HBO, Sky and France's CanalPlus. On the film side, Mediapro was a producer on Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris as well as A Perfect Day, starring Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko.

"The greatest opportunity to be creative at the moment is in television," said Burman. "These days, it is not the marketing that gets people to watch; it's the storytelling."

But Burman admitted he wouldn't be saying goodbye to cinema anytime soon. His latest feature, The Tenth Man, about life in the Jewish quarter of Buenos Aires, screened in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival this year.

"When you love making movies, it's impossible to stop," he said.