At the end of the "corona year" 2020, Jeroen Koopman of NewBe scored a mega deal. His production company will make a reboot of the Australian series Heartbreak High for Netflix. In a year when many were treading water, Jeroen and NewBe chose to fly forward, he explained in the MediaMatters radioshow. "We decided to invest in creativity and new productions instead of waiting."
Jeroen already saw in 2011 that the world of TV, film and online video would become one. With films like Misfit and series like Toon, he put NewBe on the map. The deal with Netflix in December is the provisional crown on his work. Yet he doesn't experience this as a dream come true. "I think when you're in the middle of the process of an end goal, you've already set new goals while you're still pursuing the first one."
According to Jeroen, NewBe's success is due to the perspective with which his company operates. "I think we have always focused on the target audience we want to reach with our productions rather than the platform we want to work with." Although NewBe's clients are the video platforms or broadcasters, the company sees the viewer primarily as its primary customer. By following that strategy, NewBe has always been able to reach the right viewer on the right platform, Jeroen says.
In the last 5 years there has been a transition in the European film and television industry. The Scandinavian countries were the first, according to Jeroen, to become more internationally oriented with their local content. Before that, almost all European countries were making local films and series explains Jeroen. "For example, I think ten or even five years ago it was unthinkable that we would watch a Spanish television show, a German horror movie or all the Scandinavian stuff.
With this transition, and the rise of streaming services like Netflix, national boundaries have blurred in terms of international media. "And since we already work a lot for those streaming services, we felt that we could work with them to target a more international audience," Jeroen says. This eventually led to the reboot of the Australian series Heartbreak High. "So Heartbreak High is not our first international show but I would say against the biggest international show we've done so far. And so it definitely sets the tone of where we want to go with NewBe."
Of course, the corona pandemic has had an impact on NewBe as well. Because of the initial lockdown, they were forced to temporarily halt all film productions. However, this did not give Jeroen a reason to take a dim view of things. Just the opposite, he says. "It sounds a little strange, but I actually had a pretty positive and optimistic feeling. It made me feel like we were a startup again."
Back to basics
The company went back to basics, back to the core team, to start looking at where they could make a difference in terms of creativity. Jeroen saw this more as a kind of reboot for the organization he explains. "And I think we decided that instead of waiting, we should try it. We decided to invest in creativity, develop new shows, and really, I would say, dive forward rather than wait backward."
Ultimately, this also paid off for NewBe, because when the company was able to film again, it resulted in many new ideas and optimism within the team. In fact, in the last two quarters of 2020, they even exceeded their original goals.
The interview with Jeroen Koopman was the first in the series 'Holland's Finest'. This is an initiative of MediaMatters to highlight Dutch companies in the field of media technology and content production with foreign ambitions.
Listen below to the entire interview: