|Jan Salling: “access to a global community of broadcasters, producers and distributors”|
NEW FRAPA member Nordic World is arguably the hottest distribution shop in the Nordic region — which is arguably Europe’s coolest content incubator, thanks to the Nordic Noir crime wave and the stream of quirky, funny, thoughtful formats that have been flowing on to the world’s TV screens in recent years.
But what makes Nordic World’s decision to join FRAPA yet more gratifying is that it was motivated by the association’s rebranding into “a global community, a meet-and-greet platform, a networking forum, an advice shop, an information resource and an industry thought leader”, to quote FRAPA chair Ute Biernat.
“I’ve known about FRAPA for years, but it always struck me as being a bit of a closed club,” says Jan Salling, Nordic World’s chief operating officer and sales director. “Then, a couple of years ago, it suddenly turned into this dynamic, active, upfront organisation, doing lots of good stuff with conferences and reports and awards, and acting as a real driver for the global formats industry. I wanted Nordic World to be part of that community.”
Finding strength in unity — and community — is, in fact, a Salling vocation. Not only is Nordic World itself a group initiative, having been established in 2005 by the Nordic region’s key broadcasters to provide a united export platform, but Salling himself is on a “Nordic content crusade” to unite his region’s indigenous indies against the super-indies that are growing fat on the back of Nordic creativity.
Salling calls it his 70:30 mission: “About 85% of all Nordic local production is now produced by the super-indies, which means only 15% of the revenue of the Nordic region’s creative economy is being reinvested into the local market. My goal is to see this 85:15 split in the super-indies favour reduced to 70:30. That would mean more productions, more exports and more revenue to plough back into more content. And then we would have a creative ecosystem that works to the Nordic advantage, not to other people’s.”
As one would expect, Nordic World’s catalogue is rammed with examples of what Salling dubs’ “true indie” creativity. Recent successes include Monster Entertainment/nice group’s dating-show-on-wheels, Babes on the Bus, which has been optioned by Endemol for the world (excluding France), licensed to VOX in Germany and, Salling says, “is set to make more headlines in the run-up to MIPCOM”.
He also has high hopes for Dokumentarkompagniet’s Missing, a hard-hitting factual format that sets out to find children that have been abducted by a parent and return them to their rightful homes. “It’s reportage in the raw,” Salling says. “There’s no guarantee of a happy ending, but it’s amazingly powerful television that addresses an urgent, Europe-wide issue.”
Missing is now going into licence on TV2 Norway, which will make six-to-eight episodes of the show with Novemberfilm. Salling adds: “When we took Missing to MIPTV this spring, everybody said it wasn’t a format and that it wouldn’t sell. But it’s gone to licence in less than six months — and for the largest station in Norway, too.”
Meanwhile, FRAPA’s role as a defender of IP chimes with Salling’s robust approach to “the bad guys”. He says: “People have always tried to rip off shows and they always will. You need to fight it whenever you meet it and in every way you can. If anybody ends up on my shit list, I don’t hesitate to tell the whole world they are crooks. And FRAPA, by giving me access to a global community of broadcasters, producers and distributors, will help me to do that.”