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HBO Europe readies first original local drama series

HBO Europe is producing its first-ever locally-originated drama series, Wataha (The Pack), DTVE’s sister publication TBI understands.

The European arm of the US premium cable net has been moving more heavily into original production with local versions of In Treatment and Shall We Kiss and, last year, a high-profile miniseries, Burning Bush.

The latter project followed the real-life events following Czech student Jan Palach’s self-immolation Wenceslas Square in 1969. The show was a critical and commercial hit, getting a theatrical release in the Czech Republic and airing across HBO Europe’s central and eastern European footprint.

Wataha will be more action-driven and with HBO Europe’s order for six one hours, marks the channel operator’s first full-fledged series based on a locally-originated idea.

Set in Bieszczady, a remote mountainous area that borders Poland and Ukraine, the series follows a events after a group of border guards is mysteriously attacked.

The series is being produced by ATM Grupa, the Polish prodco behind a raft of Polish series and soaps as well as unscripted offerings including the local version of Big Brother.

The shoot is almost complete and the series will go out on HBO Europe’s channels, starting in Poland, at an as yet unspecified date next year.

The producer for HBO is Izabela Lopuch, the company’s head of production, who joined from free-to-air broadcaster TVN last year.

The series was written by a Polish writing team headed by Kamil Chomiuk. British writer Julie Rutterford (Shameless) was brought in as co-writer and script editor. Michał Gazda and Kasia Adamik are the directors.

Under the creative leadership of executive VP, original programming and production, Anthony Root, HBO Europe has been expanding the scope of its original production. The channel operator is understood to have several more locally- originated dramas in the works and is producing a steady stream of local docs.