EXCLUSIVE: Dynamic Television is developing adaptations of Jodi Picoult and Mario Giordano novels in Germany and lining up an ambitious French drama series about Concorde. Company chiefs Dan March and Klaus Zimmerman revealed the projects in an exclusive interview ahead of Dynamic’s tenth anniversary.
Dynamic, which began life as a distributor at Mipcom in 2013, has been pushing heavily into active development and production over recent years and is the lead production company behind Apple TV+ wine drama Drops of God. Its next set of scripted projects are at early development stage and don’t yet have networks attached.
The Drops of God maker has acquired rights to make a German version of Picoult’s novel Nineteen Minutes and Germany-based Giordano’s novel The Experiment, which was previously turned into a Hollywood film starring Adrien Brody and Forrest Whittaker. “These are big IP projects for the German market,” Zimmerman told Deadline.
Dynamic and Katharina Brauer (Para — We Are King) are adapting Picoult’s American novel Nineteen Minutes into a six-part drama after acquiring rights directly from the author.
The novel follows 17-year-old high school student Peter, who after years of bullying and physical abuse at the hands of his classmates is pushed over the edge by one final incident, which leads him to commit an act of violence that forever changes the lives of the residents of his hometown. The story asks questions such as what it means to be different in society and whether it is ever okay for victims to strike back.
Writer Picoult has authored nearly 30 books, selling millions globally. Earlier this year, we revealed her novel Mad Honey, written with Jennifer Finney Boyland, was being adapted as a TV series by Canada’s Thunderbird Entertainment. Her novels My Sister’s Keeper, The Pact and Plain Truth are among those that have previously been adapted for the big and small screens.
The Experiment‘s TV treatment doesn’t yet have a writer attached. Dynamic has acquired the rights to the novel from German publishing house Rowohlt and is planning a remake. This marks the first TV adaptation of the book and follows on the 2010 U.S. film, directed by Paul T. Scheuring, which itself was a remake of a 2004 German feature directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall).
Das Experiment, based on Giordano’s novel Black Box, follows reporter Tarek, who joins an experiment into aggressive behavior in an artificial prison situation where cameras and microphones constantly record events. Those initially involved, who are randomly split into prisoners and guards, initially believe it is a game but the experiment’s leaders push the guards into towards violence. This leads to a bitter fight for life and death.
We hear there will be a “surprising twist” to the story, which is still taught in German schools, and the series will run to six episodes.
In France, Dynamic is lining up Supersonic, which is about the creation and construction of the Concorde plane, the faster-than-sound airliner jointly developed by French and UK aircraft operations in the 1960s and 1970s. It will be written by Stéphane Cabel (Farang) and directed by Thomas Vincent (Bodyguard, Reacher).
“It’s an incredible plane, unique and crazy, and people will never forget it,” said Zimmerman.
The trio of projects are the latest for LA-based Dynamic, which is known for series such as European crime dramas The Sommerdahl Murders and Trapped, Netflix comedy Ginny & Georgia and Acorn TV’s Dublin-set original Harry Wild among others. The indie has had arguably its biggest show to date this year with Drops of God, which came out of France and Japan and recently featured as a Global Breakout.
Dynamic started as a distributor and program financier in 2013 under former Echo Bridge international chief March. Zimmerman joined a year later to lead out of Europe, and the company later added production to its list of services. Though the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the move, it was able to launch Jane Seymour murder-mystery drama Harry Wild in 2022, and hired former eOne and Kew Media drama exec Carrie Stein as President of Scripted TV.
“When we first formed the company one of aims was to form a distribution business that could solve some of the problems that existed in distribution, especially with distributors and producers not be aligned and transparent with each other,” said March.
“Distribution is something we still really believe in and it’s been core to our success — a lean overhead and very focused but diversified business model. What changed was the shift to global streaming, where all of a sudden Netflix and others were all around the world, and at the end of 2017 there was this negative shift away from distribution. After a lot of pressure on our business, we realised it was going to be important to check into the other part of what we do as content creators.”
‘Things Are Shifting Back Towards Cost-Effective Models’
However, with the economics of streaming spooking Wall Street and original production slowing as the studios and international services reassess the root to profitability, Dynamic has swung back to its sales beginnings.
“The irony of the last year, with global streaming under scrutiny, is things are shifting back towards cost-effective models and global distribution is one of them,” said March. “This business never sits on its laurels, and that suits us very well as we never got out of the distribution business. The future has never been greater for the company.”
To date, Dynamic has distributed more than 350 hours of new drama and around 600 hours of content overall since its market debut at the end of 2013. It has deficit-financed shows from the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Australia, UK and South Africa and is among a small number of truly indie players competing on the international TV market.
Former Atlantique Productions exec Zimmerman, who joined Dynamic to spearhead European office launches in Paris and Berlin, added: “Today we stand on two feet – equal resources into production and distribution fields. We’re in the middle and it will probably depends year by year where the majority of those resources goes.”
March admitted the market conditions makes it hard to predict future trends, but did expect indie co-production to become a bigger part of the scripted puzzle for streamers going forwards. Zimmerman added the writers strike had not yet really impacted Europe to date, as most productions are independent of WGA and SAG-AFTRA contracts.
“The only thing we know right now is there is huge pressure from Wall Street to prove the business model,” said March. “The content spend is not sustainable, and combined with an ad downturn that’s impacting networks everywhere, its’s a challenging time in the business and it’s hard to make heads or tails of it.
“The logical outcome is everyone will look for lower costs or more balanced financing plans on programming. The only way to do that co-production, sharing risk, producing content intelligently with discipline and choosing the right stories at the right prices. Those are things we have done since the start and proven with our shows.”
Zimmerman pointed to how Dynamic originally developed the concepts behind The Sommerdahl Murders, Harry Wild and Van Helsing, the horror-fantasy series that it co-produced for Syfy. “We were in the writers room on Trapped and were totally shaping it to what we believed an Icelandic show would need to be successful internationally,” he added. “We have this selective, need-driven content approach. If we could find all the product around perhaps we’d be less active on development.”
“When we started the business we knew we didn’t have the resources to outbid the competition and just acquire content on the open market, so we had to help build projects from the inception,” said March. “That meant development was in our DNA from the start because it was the only way we were going to acquire programs.”
Drops of God, meanwhile, provided Dynamic with another model. After developing the project with Call My Agent and Paralleles writer Quoc Van Tran and attaching France Télévisions and Hulu Japan, Dynamic’s French production arm became the lead producer. Legendary Entertainment was brought in to handle international sales and it quickly struck a multi-million-dollar licensing deal with Apple TV+ for the rest of world.
“It was a very big project to carry alone, a big production challenge, so it was the right decision to get a big partner to carry the risk with us,” said Zimmerman. “I’m sure we’ll do it again, but it won’t necessarily always be the case.”
Content Source: deadline.com