NENT Group’s global distributor DRG introduced three high profile Nordic dramas at MIPTV: NRK’s first crime procedural For Life produced by Monster Scripted, NRK Drama’s 22 July, and Fundament Film’s The Inner Circle currently shown on Viaplay. 

Tell us about your role at DRG and the types of series you’re looking for?
Dave Clarke: I’m responsible for all content - scripted and non-scripted. Right now, we’ve got investments of up to £3.5 million in Nordic drama, across the series For Life, 22 July, The Inner Circle and White Wall. Our shows are diverse (crime, drama, family drama set against politics, sci-fi)  to allow each one to stand out. 

Generally speaking what type of deficit financing do you offer?
DC: We regularly cover up to 20% of series deficits in return for distribution rights.

As part of NENT Group, do you have first looks on series from sister companies?
DC: Yes, but there are no obligations; it depends on the financing need of each show. We look at third party projects as much as projects from partner companies.

What trends do you see on the market?
DC: Young adults is a big trend for SVODs but not so much for traditional broadcasters and it's not a big priority for us. Crime is still very popular, procedural crime in particular, so we’re very pleased to have NRK’s For Life on our slate.

How are buyers reacting to the series? 
DC: As soon as people heard about For Life, I was flooded with calls and emails because buyers want to see what Monster Scripted and NRK will do with this procedural. Both companies have a fantastic reputation internationally and it’s striking a cord everywhere. 

Monster Scripted ‘s CEO Håkan Briseid feels the show has strong remake potential. Do you agree?
DC: Absolutely. The US, France, the UK, Germany are inquiring already about the remake. We need to trade carefully and see how it plays out. We want to make sure first that as many people as possible see the original show. We’re pretty confident to pre-sell it based on the concept. 

We also have NRK’s 22 July that is shaping into an amazing piece of television. 

Would you say that it's more of a free to air offer?
DC: Yes that’s a natural home for the series, but the craft behind the series will make it go broader. People can recognise it for an amazing artistic achievement. It’s a tough topic but a remarkable effort from a nation, trying to deal with this traumatic terrorist attack. 

What type of deal do you have in place with NRK?
DC: There was a first look deal in place, but now we’re just working very closely on a project-by-project basis. NRK’s ambitions have grown; they need international partners to co-finance their biggest dramas.

What type of traction do you get on the Swedish series The Inner Circle, which was nominated this year for the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize?
DC: It’s a well-crafted TV drama, hugely binge-watchable and it appeals to everyone. We’re really happy to have it. We’ve sold it to a couple of territories, although we can’t make announcements right now. This is the first market so we’re taking our time. 

You also have the Finnish/Swedish thriller/sci-fi White Wall co-created by Roope Lehtinen and writer Mikko Pöllä, set to premiere on Yle and SVT in the fall 2020. At what stage did you come on board?
DC: We came on board over a year before they started shooting, but they had already a full script. It was a well thought-out proposal. We had to fight off competitors. Everyone saw its potential as an interesting twist to the Nordic noir. The sci-fi element is a jumping off point in the series, not the driving force but the catalyst in the drama.

Do you just rely on your existing contacts to scout projects as early as possible?
DC: People know we are an established player in Nordic drama funding. We’re constantly vigilant and make sure people are aware of our presence.

What is the share of Nordic shows in your overall drama slate? 
DC: It’s around 35-40%. Scandinavia must have one of the steepest growths in drama, when you see that Viaplay alone is looking at doing 40 originals a year! SVT has had returning shows and now their new slate is coming, C More/TV4 is very active, Elisa Viihde in Finland is aggressive as well, alongside Nelonen, Yle, so there are more commissioners than ever across the region. The issue that broadcasters and producers need to wrestle with is the risk of over-supply of partly-funded shows. There is a limit to how many you can realistically finance with gap funding, if there are 50 other projects at any one time looking for the same thing.

So do you see it bottleneck?
DC: Anything could happen really. Budgets and ambitions need to come down. You may find that with too many projects on the market at any one time, some simply won’t be made. They might be greenlit, but won’t be made. There has been an inflation of budgets on the market, but when you look at the UK, over the last few years, the top rating shows have not been super expensive. 

 You need a mixed economy. Everyone needs high value shows, a few tentpoles on their slate, but not all can be like that. The audience doesn’t need that sort of elevation.