It’s not because you are (or should be) inexpensive, the recently rebranded company’s president Melissa Aouate insists
Fabrik Entertainent is now Fabel Entertainment, and aspiring TV creators should start practicing their pitches.
That’s because one differentiating strategy for the production company behind Amazon Prime’s long-running crime series “Bosch” is its actual desire to work with first-time showrunners, company president Melissa Aouate told TheWrap.
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Three benefactors of the company’s trust exercise include playwrights Nick Carr (“Wally Roux, Quantum Mechanic”) and Kirsten Guenther (“Benny & Joon” stage musical), as well as Tom Bernardo, who was recently elevated to co-showrunner on the upcoming “Bosch” spinoff set at IMDb TV.
Finding series-creator newbies is not the production company’s “sole strategy,” Aouate said, but she believes Fabel, which has a presence both domestically and abroad, is “uniquely positioned” to pull it off.
These days, there is more opportunity — money, buyers and modes of sharing/monetizing content — than ever before, something Aouate is happy to exploit. She believes TV audiences have “evolved” along with the platforms. “They’ve gotten to this place where not only do they want to see themselves, but they want to see heroes and people with different point of views, people from different places, people that have different perspectives portrayed on the screen,” Aouate said of viewers.
So bring on the noobs to lead the writer’s rooms. While Fabel, like most of the modern industry, is interested in BIPOC stories, Aouate and her partner, company CEO Henrik Bastin, really want fresh blood of any sort. (And no, it’s not just because a first-timer should theoretically be less pricey than an established showrunner, she assured us. Twice.)
Aouate sees particular potential in writers for the stage who have never run a television writers room, for one example.
Carr, a playwright whose “Wally Roux, Quantum Mechanic” was adapted into a 2019 Audible original voiced by “The Good Place” star William Jackson Harper, said he’s grateful for the opportunity to develop a grounded sci-fi series for the company.
“It can be a very disheartening industry. People can tell you you’re talented or say they’re a fan of your work, but it’s rare for someone to take a chance on an unproven commodity,” he told TheWrap. “I’m probably biased, but I think Fabel prioritizes good stories. And if the story’s good, if they believe in the script, they’ll believe in the writer too. They’ll take a risk that a lot of other companies won’t, and then they’ll back it up by being truly collaborative. I’m very grateful to have partners in this process who have my back. They’re not just trying to satisfy notes from the studio, they’re trying to help tell the best possible version of the story and support my vision from Day 1.”
Aouate believes that often a creative person’s first idea is their best — or at least the most worked-out — and is very often the one they’ll always be the most passionate about.
“You know, showrunners — I don’t know how much you know about everything that they actually need to do — but it’s an insane job,” she said. “They need to be an actor and sell the show in a pitch and be charming and outgoing and charismatic. And then they need to turn that off and be introverted and an auteur and create this amazing content. And then they need to turn that off and they need to be a production/project manager, a task manager, a politician working against the studio and against the network and do budgets. It’s just a huge job.”
“For a first-time creator, I think that that’s extremely intimidating,” she continued. “And I think it takes a lot of people out of the running in a really unfortunate way. And we’re seeing — or we have seen, at least — the result of that system on TV, where it’s the same five stories from the same five people, because they’re the only ones who’ve actually made it through the system and they’ve kind of cracked the system.”
Aouate said “it’s a mixed bag” on platforms buying content from Fabel’s first-time creators with the industry showing more willingness in comedy than drama.
“We really feel like we have an opportunity, and it’s our job, to insulate [creators] and protect them and guide them through this system so that we’re creating the best content and we’re able to give them an opportunity that they definitely wouldn’t have had in sort of the previous version of the system, the entertainment system,” she said. “So we don’t really care how writers are in production or how political they can be or how charming they are when they pitch.”
“That’s all stuff that we can take care of, and we’re happy to,” Aouate continued. “And so we feel like it’s kind of our job and our duty to give these people the tools and to protect them and to empower them and to insulate the creative vision from start to finish. We’re happy to talk to the studio about getting more money for a scene that needs it. And we don’t really need our showrunner to feel the pressure to do that. We want to make sure that they feel capable of just creating and being happy and being in a space where they feel protected.”