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MIA 2020

Amazon Studios unveils its strategy for Italian scripted and unscripted originals at Rome’s MIA


- Nicole Morganti and Davide Nardini explain how the studio is looking to position itself within the Italian landscape, and announce the company’s new projects

Amazon Studios unveils its strategy for Italian scripted and unscripted originals at Rome’s MIA
The Amazon Studios in Conversation session at the MIA

In a Drama & Doc Talk session held at the MIA|International Audiovisual Market and focusing specifically on Amazon Studios, Head of Italian Originals Nicole Morganti and Head of Italian Scripted Originals Davide Nardini explained how Amazon Studios is positioning itself in the national audiovisual landscape. They updated attendees on the company’s local and collaborative strategies for finding original content, as well as announcing the studio’s new projects.

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Nicole Morganti explained: “I’m responsible for developing a uniform strategy homing in on Italian creativity which has international relevance, whilst also drawing out the Italian nature of these products and creating content which appeals to Italians. Given that Amazon is a global company with excellent visibility all over the world, everything that’s made for us already has an inherent global relevance. A key characteristic of Amazon’s products is the way in which they pick up on viewers’ tastes and look to tell innovative stories which revolve around storytelling, in the case of both scripted and unscripted works. The mantra of Jennifer Salke (Amazon Studios’ CEO), which we adopt in each and every country, is that we should be a “home for talents”: established talents, big names, in a way that nobody else is, but also for emerging talent. My vision in Italy is to make high-quality products that fit with Amazon Studios standards, but I also want to prove that Italians aren’t just creative, they’re also capable of creating products with a very high production value. I’m really happy that, with our first originals launch back in March, and namely Celebrity Hunted, we proved that our way of creating entertainment involves a combination of genres, scripted editing with unscripted content, shored up by a great deal of industry talent”.

For his part, Davide Nardini reflected upon the development of original products: “We won’t make many things over the course of a year, there will be just a few, well-chosen works. Quality starts with good writing and the audience, which is a central factor in discussions with our partners. Our starting point is to have incredible stories which can then be presented in the best way possible. We do this by trying to offer all the tools required to draw out the best possible version of a story”.

On the subject of how to go about presenting a project such as Celebrity Hunted to Amazon Studios, Nicole Morganti insisted: “By changing mindsets. That’s what we ask of our partner producers. First and foremost, it’s better to bring fewer ideas to the pitch - between two and five – and feel convinced that these will result in the best possible content. It might only be a concept that you’re pitching, one which you’ve thought through and are enthusiastic about. Then we move into the phase of developing the product with Amazon. If it’s the first time, there’ll be an onboarding process because every OTT has different procedures in place. You need to find the time to find the best talent, working together on the crew and the cast. Next, we present the project to the international board, and once we get the green light, it’s passed over to a committee to undergo the production valuation process. For example, when Celebrity Hunted moved into the post-production phase, eight people travelled over from the US to ensure quality standards were met”.

In terms of their handling of the highly difficult period that followed the presentation of their audiovisual slate in January, Nicole Morganti admitted: “Like everyone else, we were on call day in, day out. We didn’t stop and we worked on adapting our editorial line to the situation at the time. Faced with making a product like Dinner Club, which we announced back in January and is an international cooking travelogue, it was safer to film it in Italy. We chose to lend value to those regions of Italy which were in greater need of visibility, especially abroad, and focused on the land itself, on food and wine and on the artisans involved. It will feature chef Carlo Cracco, as well as Sabrina Ferilli, Luciana Littizzetto and others yet to be announced. We started three months after the others so as to adhere to Amazon’s strict safety protocols, and we tried to look for the good in these changes. In terms of the January slate, we were supposed to launch four originals: we launched two of them and pushed the other two back to 2021. In terms of the former, we released one in the first week of lockdown, while the second is due for 6 November and is a docu-movie about Tiziano Ferro, an artist who has the perfect mindset for offering unique, surprising and exclusive access to stories of diversity and inclusion. If the audience like this product, it will open up huge possibilities for the future. We’ll also be offering Vita da Carlo, the first ever series by Carlo Verdone, which we’re really thrilled about, and we’re currently working on the second series of Celebrity Hunted, involving an even more intriguing cast”.

On the matter of scripted projects, Davide Nardini revealed that: “in addition to the previously announced work Bang Bang Baby, we’re developing an Italian project with Wildside, which tells the story of Leonardo Notarbatolo and the heist of the century carried out in Antwerp 17 years ago. Its title is Everybody Loves Diamonds”.

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(Translated from Italian)

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