HBO Europe takes original drama strategy to former Yugoslavia


HBO Europe has announced plans to produce original drama series in the former Yugoslavia, also known as the Adria region, in a bid to expand its original programming output into another territory.

As the first step towards producing original TV series in the region, the European arm of the Time Warner unit announced the HBO Adria First Draft Contest, inviting the submission of drama scripts set in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro.

“In common with its parent company, the business strategy of HBO Europe places great emphasis on the development and production of premium TV series,” Steve Matthews, HBO Europe's executive producer of drama development, said last week following the announcement of the contest at the Sarajevo International Film Festival.

“It is our absolute aim to work with local talent in order to deliver quality series developed primarily for the domestic audience, based on original local ideas.”

HBO Europe has been producing adapted TV series in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Poland since 2010.

More recently, the premium TV service has stressed it would focus on developing original dramas in Central and Eastern Europe, building on the success of adaptations.

HBO Europe's first original TV series was Horici Ker (Burning Bush), set during the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969 and directed by Agnieszka Holland.

Premiered in January 2013, the series collected numerous awards and was aired in many countries, including the United States. It was followed by the Czech drama Pustina (Wasteland) and the Polish thriller Wataha (The Pack).

Two years ago, Matthews, who was a consulting producer on Showtime's The Borgias, was hired to oversee HBO Europe's expanding original programming output.

The HBO Adria First Draft Contest is open to submissions through Nov. 15. No timeframe for the production of the first Adria region original series has been unveiled yet.