“It has been three years since Sven lost his wife. Until now, he hasn’t ventured into the dating world, yet his assistant Anna is madly in love with him. ” This synopsis belongs to the movie In love with my boss, directed in 2017 by Matthias Kiefersauer. It is one of the countless German productions that have been made with the Spanish Television after dinner during the weekends. Punctuated by beautiful landscapes, simple stories, an attractive cast and their usual happy ending, they are backed by good audience figures: around 10% screen share. “They are profitable and seem almost postcards: they entertain and keep the viewer there even if they don’t have a great production,” says Juan Francisco Gutiérrez, tenured professor at the Faculty of Communication Sciences at the University of Malaga and director of the studies section of television of the European Association for Education and Research in Communication.
In the 2020-2021 season, which began last September, La 1 has broadcast 132 films on Saturday and Sunday after-dinner meals, of which 95 were German nationals (72%). They are cheap films – they are shot in a month and their budget is around one million euros – that have a standard duration of 90 minutes. The public channel ZDF broadcasts them at prime time and then sells them in packages to numerous countries, including Spain. In fact, just three years after betting on these productions, in 2017, Televisión Española had acquired more than 300 titles with the intention of “reinforcing that concept of a white product open to all types of audiences”, they explained then from the public channel . His after-dinner hours hosted a fixed space for the cinema decades ago, such as the mythical First Session, almost always with Hollywood classics. Now it is the European production that stands out over the North American one. Other channels, such as Antena 3, have also set their sights on Europe, in part because of the obligation to have a quota of cinema made in the EU.
The Alicante Fernando Corral, 42, is one of the few Spanish actors who has participated in one of these German productions. He did it in 2018 with a leading role A summer in Salamanca. “It is a cinema with many stereotypes [trajes de gitana en Andalucía, un jamón en Salamanca], a script without much logic and they are shot practically at once, ”says Corral, who lived in Munich for three years and is fluent in the Teutonic language. “It was an interpretive challenge, but they gave me a lot of freedom. It was a tremendous experience that I will be grateful for all my life, ”he underlines while acknowledging that every time La 1 broadcasts the film, social networks go out of control. “When it was shown for the first time in Spain, it was the most watched of the day after the news,” recalls Corral, who participated in Red Eagle and just auditioned for a German series while offering an online acting acting workshop called Challenge yourself as an actor.
“They are movies to feel good”
The film in which Corral participated belongs to the series A summer in … which includes stories set in common tourist destinations such as Spain, France, Greece, Denmark or Portugal. There are also adaptations of works by the British writer Rosamunde Pilcher that are shot in the south of the United Kingdom, while others are scripts by Inga Lindström, pseudonym of the screenwriter and journalist Christiane Sadlo, who always places her stories in Sweden, where they are even organized tourist routes to visit the stages. They are always starred by German actors. “They are films to feel good, about love and set in the beautiful Swedish landscape that are aimed at a wide audience”, underlines Isabelle Fedyk, one of the managers of the Bavaria Film production company. “In Germany they are aimed at older women and are deliberately broadcast when crime films are shown on another public channel,” adds Lothar Mikos, a professor at Konrad Wolfv Film University in Babelsberg, south of Berlin.
Spanish channels, precisely, appreciate these films for being a white, quality product, with good actors and actresses and attractive landscapes. At least, this is how Javier Iriarte, Atresmedia Televisión’s deputy director of programming, explains, who a few years ago decided to explore the European market. “We did tests with German films and it was a resounding success,” he says. Now they have parked the tapes of that nationality, but the French or British have succeeded. “It is very important that in the first minutes of broadcast the conflict or the extreme situation is created to hook the viewer as soon as possible,” says Iriarte. The competition from the desktop is very high, but even so, these films – which are broadcast inside the container titled Multicine of Antena 3— around 13% of the screen share this season, a little more than two points above those of La 1, according to the data provided by the private channel. “The public knows what they will find in the after-dinner meals,” insists Iriarte, who highlights the existence of great audience loyalty despite the increasing competition from digital platforms. From TVE, in the midst of a drop in audience, they only say that “this is not the time” to talk about these productions.
“Tabletop movies have become a genre unto themselves. And the subgenre of ‘Germans doing things’ is perhaps the most effective ”, they insist from the Twitter profile @Peelidearde, born in 2018 “in recognition” of this type of production and with a high dose of humor. The space has even created a website that with a special section for films of this nationality and qualifies them by yawning, instead of stars. In love with my boss is one of his favorites, but beyond that there are titles like Busy hearts, The hut in Tyrol O Fire and glass. The synopsis of the latter says it all: “Sara Forsberg knows from her own experience that life is as fragile as the beautiful glass art she makes.” Some popcorn?
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.