Saturday, November 27

Chris Brancato, on ‘Narcos’: “It was difficult, exciting and delusional” | Madrid

The first edition of Iberseries Platino Industria started this Monday in Madrid. The festival has 60 conferences and eight premieres with the aim of becoming the largest event in the Ibero-American audiovisual sector. A meeting point to connect 1,500 professionals from the audiovisual industry from both parts of the Atlantic. One of the invited creators is the American Chris Brancato (1962, New Jersey), co-creator of the series Narcos from Netflix, visiting Spain for the first time.

The screenwriter excitedly recalls the process by which his story became reality. During the recording of the series in Colombia, surrounded by 350 people from the technical team and dozens of spectators who gathered in the street to witness the production, Brancato moved to the moment when he began to write the script in a hotel room: “Writing is a very lonely process, but then a lot of people get involved who contribute their talent to execute and shape what you have written.”

The producer was born in Teaneck Township, located north of New York City, where he currently resides. The screenwriter rose to fame in 1998 with some of his creations such as Deadly species II and The chosen one. Brancato has a degree in History, but when he finished university he decided to dedicate himself to the audiovisual sector: “My mother is a novelist. I knew that you could live by writing, but I didn’t know in what way ”. Although his training brings a personal touch to his texts, as in the articles he used to write in his career.

The creator admits that he had no particular interest in movies or television. “A friend showed me a script for television and I thought that was what I wanted to do,” says Brancato. In addition, he confesses that he entered this sector with a purely business vision, rather than out of creative or artistic passion. The American started from the idea of ​​”how and to whom the product is sold.” Brancato will lead a master class on October 1, framed in the festival’s program, in which he will talk about series writing and directing. Among his best known projects are The godfather of Harlem, File X, Law O Hannibal.

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One of his great successes is undoubtedly the Narcos series, directed by Brazilian José Padilha and also written by Eric Newman and Carlo Bernard. A Netflix production, based on the fight against drug trafficking in Colombia in the 90s, which was launched in 2013 and has three seasons. Brancato was the showrunner (Author-producer in English) of the series from the pilot chapter. The scriptwriter defines the experience in Colombia as “difficult, exciting and delusional”: “It was safe, but it was a new experience for me. It is always difficult to start a new series, but more so if it is in a foreign country ”. The producer did not expect Narcos to have such a spectacular reception: “I had no expectations, but I thought that maybe watching a series about drugs had a somewhat addictive side.” The American assures that it is a very stimulating series, and adds an added value: the language. The dialogues between the characters combine Spanish and English.

The screenwriter wrote the first season in keeping with Padilha’s cinematic style: “The first year we used the voice-over of DEA agent Steve Murphy as the narrator of the story.” After his investigation, Brancato says that his initial idea was to start with the character of Pablo Escobar as a powerful drug trafficker. “The director suggested that it was better that we tell it from the beginning,” comments the creator. His friend, Eric Newman, followed up with the following season, Narcos Mexico, while he began to write the television series The godfather of Harlem (2019).

Samuel Castro, co-director of the Iberseries Platino Industria festival, affirms that having the presence of Brancato is a milestone because it is an international benchmark. “The showrunner he is a distinguishable figure in the field of cinematographic and audiovisual production ”, explains Castro. In addition to Brancato, other renowned audiovisual creators will attend such as Alejandro Amenábar, Leticia Dolera and Daniel Burman, among others.

The activities of this audiovisual cycle are held until October 1 in different locations in the capital, such as the Matadero and Casa de América cultural centers or the Capitol and Callao cinemas. The exhibition includes premieres of the first chapters of unpublished series such as Bunker (Mexico) or Toy Boy (Spain). In addition, five films finalists for the Platinum Awards will be screened. Between them, The weeping womanby Jayro Bustamante (Guatemala). The debate, reflection and the exchange of ideas will be grouped in various conferences, workshops and seminars. Also, independent film and serial programs from emerging producers and creators will be screened.

The audiovisual industry has undergone a huge change in recent years. Also, the way we perceive and consume the series. Brancato confirms that technology has improved the television and film industry: “The format of the series that lasts ten episodes is going to stay with us for a while.” According to the American, “now you can do things that you couldn’t do before and that means more freedom for screenwriters.”

Brancato is currently working on a new series, Hotel Cocaine. A story based on the 70s in Miami that takes place in a hotel that becomes a meeting place for Latin American dictators, politicians, agents of the DEA (acronym of the Drug Control Administration in English) and Cuban traffickers. “I think it will be the last series I do in which there is cocaine involved,” says the creator with a laugh.

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