Magazine article Screen International

HBO Europe's Steve Matthews on the Company’s Push into the Balkans

Magazine article Screen International

HBO Europe's Steve Matthews on the Company’s Push into the Balkans

Article excerpt

HBO exec talks company’s Central Europe slate and the challenges of a crowded market.

This year’s industry programme at Sarajevo Film Festival has a notably small-screen flavour, with a significant portion of industry activities bannered under the CineLink Drama strand, focusing on high-end TV, and the MIDPOINT international script development programme, which is hosting a series of workshops.

TV outfits making inroads into the Balkan region in recent years include HBO, which through its subsidiary HBO Europe has been increasing its local presence under the banner HBO Adria. Ahead of Sarajevo, HBO Adria announced that it had hired Ana Balentovic as a full-time development executive for the region as it begins ramping up its activities.

Screen sat down with HBO Europe’s executive producer for drama development, Steve Matthews, to discuss the company’s burgeoning slate in the Balkans and its approach to an increasingly crowded market place.

* Read: Sarajevo Film Festival 2017: industry preview

Since joining the company in 2014, Matthews has begun developing a slate of Balkan projects, including launching a call for script pitches at last year’s Sarajevo Film Festival, an initiative that now has two series in advanced development.

Matthews is keen to highlight that, amidst the high-end drama boom, HBO is focusing on original productions, rather than series developed from formats, or as he puts it, “plot that you can buy off the shelf and then localise”.

Matthews describes HBO Europe’s move into the Balkans as a “very confident” one, due to the region’s already healthy appetite for cable television, and “the next logical step” following success in territories such as Scandinavia.

“Why can’t a show from Bosnia be the next one to break through?” he suggests.

The company has five projects in active development from the Balkan region, and a few more that are in more embryonic stages.

The series are in varying stages of development but the two furthest along are The Island, from Serbia, and Success, from Croatia. …

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