Netflix Creatives, In Amsterdam, Talk About Why They’re Working With the Streaming Giant

Netflix Creatives, In Amsterdam, Talk About Why They’re Working With the Streaming Giant
Netflix Creatives, In Amsterdam, Talk About Why They’re Working With the Streaming Giant

Gathering at Netflix’s Amsterdam office on Monday, multiple creatives spoke about how working with the streaming giant has allowed them to tell stories authentically and give their voices reach around the world.

Mandla Walter Dube from South Africa (Jiva!, Silverton Siege), Belgian-Dutch writer/producer Nico Moolenaar (Undercover, Ferry), Norwegian director Roar Uthaug (Troll), Jordanian director Tima Shomali (Al Rawabi School for Girls) and German writer Katharina Eyssen (The Empress) shared their experiences in an event set up for reporters.

Shomali said creating for Netflix was about “freedom” to “tell stories that I believe in and that I want to be heard.” She added: “I always call Netflix the global village of the world where all the countries meet” and creatives get a chance to be seen.

Meanwhile, Dube said the streaming company opened opportunities to storytellers. “I always tell my students: don’t go to Hollywood anymore. Let Hollywood come to you,” he said. “I think this is a case in point of what Netflix has done.” And he shared that he also felt the end of traditional limitations. “For me, being supported that you can tell your story in your own original language, and you’re like, ‘Are you serious?’ ‘Yes, you can do that.’ And it is literally decolonizing, for me, the lens. I don’t have to see my world, my soul in an English kind of set-up.”

Uthaug similarly said that traditionally when a big American company signs on to make a creator’s movie, they worry “that they will run all over you and use you as a puppet, but that was not the case at all” with Netflix, he said. “We were given great freedom” and “lots of support in making the movie I wanted to make and supporting my vision for the movie.” As a result, he could make an “authentically Norwegian” movie about trolls for Netflix rather than an Americanized version of his story.

Asked what other stories he would like to tell, Uthaug said: “I think there may be more trolls out there.”

Meanwhile, German creator Eyssen discussed the success of Germany- and Austria-set royal drama The Empress. “It was very moving and very humbling to me to see that it wasn’t only hit in Germany, but also around the world,” she shared. “I was so moved by the messages I got from around the world, from people from Nigeria and South America, a lot from Colombia, the States a lot and the U.K. and Canada. I was completely overwhelmed. And we were successful in Ukraine, which is, of course, very important to us as Europeans.”

Eyssen also highlighted the intense back-and-forth with her Netflix contact though to ensure the best version of the show. “I was lying in the editing room crying because my executive and I were fighting so hard,” she said, but also lauded the feedback for making her work better. “I really learned to elevate my work.”

During the same event on Monday, Larry Tanz, vp, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) content at Netflix, discussed what subscribers watch and how stories have increasingly emerged from across the world. And Netflix executive chairman Reed Hastings and co-CEO Greg Peters talked about risk-taking, as well as their focus on member satisfaction and profitability.

Netflix, which ended 2022 with 230.75 million subscribers, has been expanding its presence and production operations in various international markets.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) quietly became the streamer’s biggest region in terms of subscribers in 2022, overtaking the combined user figure of 74.3 million for the U.S. and Canada with its 76.7 million. Its revenue for last year reached $9.75 billion, with average revenue per user (ARPU) of $10.99, compared to $15.86 for the U.S. and Canada.

Ampere Analysis has said that Netflix has become the second-largest TV company in Europe in terms of European revenue, accounting for 7.7 percent in 2022, before including online video advertising revenue, which the streamer just started recording. That was only behind Comcast with 10.3 percent of all European TV revenue across subscription streaming, pay TV, public TV and TV advertising, according to the firm’s analysts.

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