TOLEDO, Spain — Global producer-distributor Fremantle has released an international trailer for ‘Negotiator’, a sleek, slick and chic eight-part crime thriller from São Paulo produced by two prominent players in the Latino and Latin American TV scene – from Miami Spiral International and Boutique Filmes from Brazil.
Fremantle acquired world rights outside of Latin America and Portugal and will use Conecta Fiction in Toledo, Spain to introduce ‘Negotiator’, underlining growing market trends in the international TV scene.
The busy trailer begins with a desperate kidnapper storming through large church doors, revolver in hand aimed at a victim’s head. “I’m going to kill him,” he yells hysterically.
Cut against a close-up of the granite face of late 1930s Captain Gabriel Menck (Malvino Salvador), head of negotiations for GATE, a special police unit tasked with resolving crisis situations in São Paulo, Brazil . “No one dies today,” Menck categorically states.
“I understand your suffering,” Menck says to the kidnapper. He should. Menck is back early from leave of absence from GATE after losing his wife in a car accident that Internal Affairs is treating as murder – with Menck himself as the prime suspect.
Having established the predominant storyline of Season 1, the trailer plunges into a mish-mash of missions. “I’m in control,” Menck shouts to his trigger-happy sniper squad, ready to drop the kidnapper.
That raises a big question: Facing again the consequences of botched robberies, kidnappings, suicide attempts and terrorist threats and taking care of a young son suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after the death of his mother, is Menck in control of himself? Or was he the night his wife died?
Inspired by real events, “Negotiator” is a slick, high-stakes police thriller set in the bustling city of São Paulo, said Jens Richter, CEO commercial and international at Fremantle.
“We have no doubt viewers will be captivated by the rich episodic storylines and stunning visual quality, and we couldn’t be happier to partner with Spiral International and Boutique Filmes to bring this impressive series to an international audience,” added Richter.
Spiral International was behind Amazon Latin America’s second TV series Falco, which won an International Emmy and was sold to Telemundo in the US and Turner/TNT in Latin America. Another Spiral series, serial killer thriller “Toda la Sangre”, created by Spiral CEO Zasha Robles, was one of the first four international originals announced by Starzplay. It was co-produced by Fremantle, who handled international distribution.
Boutique Filmes, based in São Paulo, run by Thiago and Gustavo Mello, changed TV history when the futuristic social allegory “3%”, Netflix’s second completely foreign-language original series, attracted the vast majority of its viewers outside Brazil, some American viewers who caught it thinking they were watching an American series. With this, Netflix discovered a potentially huge audience for TV from abroad.
Crime is still by far the most consumed drama genre, Richter acknowledged.
But despite many canceled commentaries and postponements of titles across global streaming platforms, content spending is still at near-record levels, plateauing at around $250 billion, according to a study by Ampere Analysis presented Tuesday on Conecta Fiction.
So what sets “Negotiator” apart? A clear calling card is the “visually rich world of São Paulo,” Richter said.
For example, the trailer’s first shot is of a church in Sao Paulo, with a blue Alpine spire backed by a thicket of white concrete apartment buildings; a drone hurtles over trees in a suburb of the city; a third setup, just glimpsed, captures a young woman standing on the edge of a building’s roof, high above many other high-rises in the area.
The split-screen episode opening credits creep against shots of Sao Paulo’s two most iconic vistas, retreating along Paulista Avenue with its glittering array of skyscrapers; and capturing the Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge against a brooding sky.
This is a series that carries its location on its cover.
“One of the main objectives is to make sure we understand where we stand in the series. The city of Sao Paulo is definitely one of our main characters and places the series directly in Brazil,” said Robles.
“Negotiator” is also episodic TV, which reasonably offers to make a comeback.
“There is a big conversation going on about dropping all the episodes at once. The binging experience that Netflix has created is amazing,” Richter said.
“However, from an economic point of view, binging bypasses the ability to make TV by appointment, stretching a viewer’s experience over a few weeks or months. I think we’ll see more episodic stories, a little bit more on on-demand platforms,” he added.
The series also adds to Fremantle’s growing roster of more mainstream plays.
“The market is evolving a bit more mainstream, towards a bit more escapism with viewers asking to be taken away from this world and really entertained. “Negotiator” ticks all the boxes,” Richter said.
“Negotiator” “belongs to a lighter type of episodic series that allows audiences to commit to 45 minutes of entertainment without really feeling the heaviness of drama,” Robles said.
The noir vibes are knitted through top-notch cinematography. The editing is fast, the camera constantly fluid, the setup varied and sometimes very ambitious, as in Ep. 2 when the camera pulls back from a GATE unit entering a building at street level to flip up in seconds to the roof of the building, revealing São Paulo behind it.
Such cinematography can be attributed to Brazil. Executive produced by Robles and Gustavo Mello, “Negotiator” was created by Mello, Thomas Stavros (“One Against All”) and Thiago Faelli (“Summer Heat”), and directed by Isabel Valiante, whose credits include the HBO series “Psi” and Boutique’s classy “3%” sequel, “Omniscient.”
Stavros, Gabriela Giffoni (“Impuros”), José Guertzenstein (“One Against All”), and Ronaldo Lasmar serve as episode writers.
“Negotiator” was one of three titles to win funding from a new cash discount inaugurated by Spcine, São Paulo’s film commission.
“Boutique and the discount really allowed us to bring to the screen a visual style and production values that are rare in series from the Brazilian independent company,” said Robles.
“Negotiator” is Fremantle’s first scripted series from Brazil. More could well be coming soon.
On the eve of the Cannes festival, Joelma Gonzaga, the Brazilian audiovisual secretary, confirmed that Variety that the new government of Brazilian President Lula Inácio Lula da Silva, who took office on January 1, will invest nearly $1 billion in the country’s audiovisual sector by 2023.
High production values are pretty much a necessity to cut through the tangle of content worldwide. Brazil, South America’s fast-rising powerhouse, appears to have the resources to fund them.