The win of the series. audrey came back this week in Cannes shows the extent of the success of Quebec television internationally in recent years. But if the sales of original concepts and programs have multiplied, Quebec still has a lot to do if it wants to shine abroad as much as the Nordic countries and Israel, which are nevertheless markets comparable to ours.
“Scandinavian countries and Israel started exporting their series before us. They have taken the lead”, recognizes Nicola Merola, president of Pixcom, still moved by the dithyrambic reception received by audrey came back in Canneseries.
With two awards won at the prestigious festival, the producer says he is in talks with French, German and Italian broadcasters to sell this series written by Florence Longpré and Guillaume Lambert and originally designed for Club illico. A great interest that Quebec growers would not even have dared to dream of a few years ago.
Because for a long time it was believed that the language and the accent prevented the export of Quebec content. It is true that the formatone boy one girl It was adapted in about thirty countries, but at the time it was above all an unexpected success, which did not really pave the way for other productions here.
Quebec producers only realized its potential when they saw Danish, Swedish or even Israeli series appear on streaming platforms in recent years. Shot in languages even less widely spoken than French, the the bridge, Caliphate Y lose AliceThose of this world have been able to reach an audience far beyond their borders thanks to their dubbed and subtitled versions.
“But language is still an important point in the sale of series from Quebec. Even today, in France, our series must be subtitled or even dubbed. For us to dub a series to sell it is impossible at the moment, because it is very expensive. Maybe if Media Fund focused on some series that have potential and financed the dubbing… But for now, that is not the case”, says Charles Ohayon, director of international distribution of Productions Casablanca.
The production box still managed to sell that’s how i love you in its original version with subtitles on the French platform Salto. This comedy enjoys exceptional resources for Quebec, but the budget remains modest compared to that available for Scandinavian productions that are the envy abroad. Despite the additional sums SODEC and the Quebecor Fund have released to support value-added content, Charles Ohayon doesn’t see how he could shoot a series as ambitious as the Norwegian political thriller. Busywith his American-style productions.
“To sell a series, you have to manage to have budgets that allow you to keep up with what is being done in other places. However, the Quebec broadcasters financing the series have much less money than before, as there is less advertising revenue. Therefore, they face a difficult choice. Either they finance just a few quality series and find something else to fill their schedule, or they continue to finance several series to fill their schedule and we manage,” continues Mr. Ohayon, a television industry veteran.
Until then, various producers prefer to put their energy into trying to export only the concepts, and not the original series in subtitled or dubbed versions.
France is currently by far the largest market for adaptations of Quebec series. In this country where the cinema has an almost sacred character, soap operas continued to be seen from above until very recently, especially since they were often limited to afternoon soap operas. But France is now also caught up in the rise of Netflix. And to stay in the game, French broadcasters today are in dire need of series that can captivate audiences, but lack the expertise to do so.
“What I hear is that, unlike us, there is no training for authors in France. Nor is there still much movement between film and television, as in Quebec. That is why, I imagine, they prefer to appeal to safe values and buy concepts to adapt them”, says Louis-Philippe Drolet of KOTV.
Across the Atlantic, Quebec formats have been on the airwaves for a few years, even if the average viewer is often unaware that this is not a local concept. The French have recently been able to see adaptations of Plan Bfrom Run awayfrom for Sarah and even beautiful discomfortswith Franck Dubosc in the role of Martin Matte.
At the mercy of the stranger?
These agreements made with foreign distributors and broadcasters now represent a true godsend for local producers. “We know that broadcasters are stuck with lost revenue. Therefore, other sources of funding must be found. Hence the importance of exporting”, explained the president of SODEC, Louise Lantagne, in an interview.
When she was managing director of Radio-Canada television in the 2000s, Louise Lantagne greenlit series with a budget of more than a million per episode. Today, the average budget in Quebec is just over $600,000 per show, four times less than drama produced in English Canada, which is much less popular.
Ironically, Quebec television has never been as popular as it is now in other parts of the world. This shows how producers depend on money from abroad to overcome these problems of lack of funds. That said, it is not about offering viewers here series that contain fewer references to Quebec so that they are later easier to export.
“I don’t see myself producing a series that would take place in Montreal and in which the characters would speak with pointed mouths. We must not lose sight of the fact that we work first and foremost for local broadcasters,” says Dominique Simard, Associate General Manager of Encore Television, who nevertheless believes that Quebec television content stands out at the moment precisely because ‘ it doesn’t look like anything else.