Archive for: Absentia
The show, which had its world premiere at the festival this weekend, marks the first series for the international networks group.
When Sony Pictures Television Networks world premiered Absentia at the Monte Carlo Television Festival over the weekend, it wasn’t just the first episode of the FBI thriller — it was the first show developed by the group that operates branded channels around the world.
“This is the first time that we fully developed, fully funded and produced a venture,” said SPTN executive vp production Marie Jacobson.
It’s a new strategy for the multichannel networks group, which has been airing American procedurals and dramas on its international networks, including Sony Networks and AXN, for two decades.
“Frankly, for us to go and commission our own original content, we really do have to look at new and different ways to make that happen. Absentia is the embodiment of that strategy,” said Jacobson.
The show — part thriller and part procedural with a touch of Nordic noir — stars Stana Katic (Castle) as an FBI agent who returns six years after being kidnapped. The show is set to air on the networks group’s AXN channel around the world and Showcase in Canada, and is seeking a U.S. home after debuting to buyers at L.A. Screenings.
“We’ve been able to create a show that is produced in a nontraditional manner and that speaks to our flexibility as a studio, our global focus and our ability to be collaborative and smart in terms of the way in which we can leverage the power of the networks group and the power of the distribution group,” said Sony Pictures Television president distribution Keith LeGoy.
The studio took an international approach to the series, casting actors from as far away as Uruguay and Mexico. Absentia is produced by Israel’s Masha TV, the team behind Homeland’s Israeli original, and directed by Oded Ruskin (False Flag). It was shot on an indie film schedule over 62 days in Bulgaria (standing in for Boston), a set that Katic says was the most collaborative she’s ever worked on.
“It came down to the style of set that Sony set up; they set up a real collaborative system,” said the actress. “I feel like this branch of Sony was open to collaboration in a new way because they are new at developing content.”
The character was a physical challenge for Katic, who spends several scenes beat up and bloodied, and she also performed most of her own stunts in one of Bulgaria’s coldest winters in years.
“The country added value to the story because we had locations that were unusual. They felt like Boston but not entirely, and there is this tone to the country that added to the color and feel of the story, to the thriller and suspense element of it. The untouched natural space that we could get in Bulgaria really created a kind of edginess,” she added.
As for the demise of the procedural, LeGoy pronounces any diagnosis too soon. “Traditional broadcasters have been telling us that they need those kind of incredibly powerful procedurals that have worked for decades,” he said. “Procedural dramas will always have an incredibly important place for broadcasters on their schedules and in their investment strategies.”
For SPTN, it is doubling down on the new strategy — it already has a second show starring a well-known American actor in the works.
Presumed to have fallen victim to a suspected serial killer she was investigating, FBI agent Emily Byrne (Stana Katic) is found alive six years after her disappearance. Suffering from almost complete amnesia of her time in captivity, Emily faces the daunting task of searching for answers as to who held her and why, while trying to reconnect with a family that has started a new life without her. Emily finds some emotional success in reconnecting with her family and friends after such a long absence but her quest for answers related to her captivity is a minefield of challenges, which threaten to destroy the life she is rebuilding. Fearful of the threat these challenges pose to her family’s safety she distances herself from them and like a lone wolf takes off in her hunt for answers where she discovers along the way that you can never outrun your shadows, no matter how fast or hard you try.
– Written by Sony Pictures Television Networks
This morning, we got a little bit of an unexpected surprise while covering the upfront for Corus up in Canada: An Absentia trailer.
Before we dive into it, here are a few things to note: Alas, we don’t have any video to share. If we were to share it, we would probably disappear in a way similar to Stana Katic’s Emily Byrne. We’re also going to be hesitant to get into too many details at this time. That’ll come, guys! Have no fear.
The big impression that we want to give is that the first real footage we saw of the series was wonderfully atmospheric, haunting, and powerful. The entire premise of the show was laid out: Emily was gone for an extended period of time, and in that time the life for her husband Nick Durand was changed. You get a sense of his old life, and how he learns that Emily is still alive. Many of the images that you’ve seen in promotional art for the show to date will come into play in some shape or form. The same goes for some of the quotes that you may have heard to date. Everyone who’s been behind the promotional campaign for the show to date has been very intelligent and deliberate with what they’ve chosen to say.
It’s hard to judge an entire series based solely on a clip, one that we weren’t exactly able to watch too many times consecutively. What we can say, though, is that Absentia looks like it will be a really entertaining, addicting drama. Obviously if you loved Katic on Castle, you’re going to love her here and then some since she’ll be at the forefront for so much of the material. Beyond that, this show should appeal to those of you who love tales of identity where the mystery lasts a little bit longer than a single episode. It was a very solid trailer — obviously, it got the basic idea of the show out there for those who may not have heard about it previously, but it also made it clear that this is going to be a layered drama with some great characters and many reasons for Katic to attract new fans. It’s also pretty stunning visually, as well.
Eventually, we do think an official trailer will be released publicly, but it may be somewhat different than what we saw (which was mostly for the sake of showing Canadian advertisers). Absentia will air on Showcase in Canada this fall.