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Boban Jevtic: Firefly will shoot several major productions this year
 19 Jan 2023
Boban Jevtic, Head of Content Strategy and Development, Firefly Productions, talks about the current state of the Serbian TV series production sector and his company’s plans to shoot several major productions in their brand-new studio in Belgrade.

Boban, how has Serbia's TV and film industry been coping with the latest challenges, namely the pandemic and the war in Ukraine?

More or less, it is coping very well, actually, but it was quite difficult in the beginning. Firefly was the first company to make a TV series going out of the pandemic - we had regulations about shooting, less people on the set, no visitors, they wear masks, all these kind of things - a protocol that is respected. We had a problem when one actor gets ill you stop the shooting or production. This was the problem until recently. And the war in Ukraine - everything started to rise price-wise, and we have another problem in Serbia related to this, for location and apartments - because a lot of Russians came to Belgrade so the prices of lending apartments started to be very high. And because we're building a studio now, the price of the materials will rise and this will slow us a little bit but now we are almost at the end of the construction.

Are there many co-productions currently being shot in Serbia? What makes the Serbian TV and film industry attractive to international partners?

There are not a lot of co-productions because we are now in the situation that, for example, Scandinavian countries were in the beginning of 2000. We have only the public broadcaster or telecoms that are financing all TV series, so they don't need co-production. There have been a few cases: my company made one with Bosnia and one with Croatian pubcaster HRT - The Last Socialist Artifact.

Now we work with Bosnia and we have Danis Tanovic, who is an Oscar winner, directing Frust, but actually we finance the whole project - it is a co-production in the sense that we have an executive producer in Sarajevo and that we have co-developed the screenplay with a Hungarian company. Still, we didn't have real co-production in financial terms because of politics, it's very strong still in ex-Yugoslavia and it's very difficult to bring two public broadcasters to work together.

For the international market: it's really recent - we started selling our TV series two years ago, especially The Family is going well. We try to promote our content, to make contacts and also because in Serbia now we produce between 30 and 40 TV high-end series per year.

What projects are you planning to shoot in the new studio in Belgrade?

It would be a really, really big studio. It's 2 big stages, each 3000 square meters, plus one smaller, 700 square meters. And we will have tank for underwater shooting at the facility, and we have a big, big backlot. The first project will be Constantine’s Crossing because it's very demanding. We are building now Nis from the 1940s on the backlot and then in the studio we will build catacomb, churches and a lot of things that it will be in this project.

What are Firefly's most-popular projects and what have been your latest deals?

Probably the most-popular is The Family. It focuses on the three last day before the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic. And there’s never been such a series in our region, about contemporary political issues. So it was a huge hit in the region and we sold it worldwide: Australia, the United States, Spain. And now we have sold an interesting project – Block 27 - to Beta to distribute it.

More or less all our TV series, we had until now 14 TV series and 70 seasons, all have been in every country of the region. Black Wedding was also sold in Australia and France.

You have several projects in development: Supernova, Rabies, Gorilla, Fatal Ally, Domestic. Tell us more about each of them. What else is in the pipeline?

We have finished Frust and we finished The Absolute 100. This is also a very interesting project because it's the same director who was made this cult movie in the 90s directing the new version, but with a young director, very young director like he was at that time. We are preparing Constantine’s Crossing and it is the most ambitious project up to date for us. It would be made in the studio and with an international cast because half of the leading characters are German. And so we prepare for that very, very carefully. It’s based on a book. The book was one of the biggest hits in Serbia in the last 50 years. And this is a supernatural thriller because it's a little bit like Indiana Jones, but with werewolves and vampires.

You have also worked as a film and TV screenwriter. What are the topics and storylines you are most passionate about and you would like to explore in future projects?

We try and I think that we are a little bit different like a company in that field that we try to experiment in every new project. So we were first with the contemporary political issue, first with a horror story, first with mystery. Now, we will be first with vampires. So really I always check first to make reboot of the film like a TV series. In every project I try to find something new and something challenging to start the project. We always write the screenplay in the writer's room, so we are different for that also. We made even the first Christmas TV series and I wrote the screenplay for that Christmas TV series of three episodes only. I don't know what will be next. I have a couple of projects that I am very, very interested in and we like a lot to base on books. So we buy a lot of rights.

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