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News in brief

09 March 2023 à 18:12

"Pacific Criminal," the daily life of a police squad on the islands

Both a crime series and an invitation to travel, Pacific Criminal offers viewers the chance to follow gripping investigations while discovering the intrigues surrounding the lives of the members of a police squad, consisting of characters from various backgrounds. With no less than 94 episodes available for international sale, the series has already succeeded in gaining the loyalty of France 3 and audiences. Bertrand Cohen, the series' producer at Terence Films, and Marie-Laure Hébrard, its international distributor, talk to us about the program's genesis, its special aspects, and international ambitions. 

Unifrance: How did you come up with the idea for this detective series set in Reunion Island?

Bertrand CohenBertrand CohenBertrand Cohen: The main idea was to show very entertaining investigations, located in a wonderful setting, that of Reunion Island. Concerning the writing, one of the particularities of the series is that the plotlines span two 52-minute episodes, which allows time for comedy, romance, and also to delve into the private lives of this police squad. A team of seven writers works on the scripts. They are mainly thriller writers, but also authors who have done other things, which allows for a mixture of influences. In addition, each year we try to bring a little more humor to the scripts.

How does Pacific Criminal differ from other detective series, in terms of its characters, the world it depicts, or plot?

BC: In Pacific Criminal, we follow a group of four investigators, with various ages and ethnic backgrounds, which creates a dynamic atmosphere. There are young characters in their twenties and others in their fifties. A woman is the head of the group. She has a strong personality and a private life that the series puts to great use. The series explores the relationships between the characters: in Season 4, for example, we follow the romance between a new recruit and the medical examiner, in all its subtleties. Moreover, new characters, very young, 19-20 years old, appear in Seasons 4 and 5: they bring humor, effervescence, and especially freshness and modernity. In addition, the series and its characters address a genuine diversity of topics.

There's a strong local integration, how did you choose Reunion Island?

BC: The first season was shot in New Caledonia and was broadcast on France Ô: it did very well from the start, both on the channel and on During the Covid crisis, the South Pacific was totally locked down, so we had to find another solution. We'd already shot a series on Reunion Island, integrating a training component, by recruiting trainees on the spot: everything went very well and trust had been established, so they agreed to host us again. Moreover, the subsidy granted by Reunion Island has greatly supported the production.

How does this setting contribute to the series' richness and success?

BC: Reunion Island offers so many possibilities and worlds that you never feel like you're going in circles. There are so many stories to tell. This year, for example, one episode takes place in a vanilla farm. Some episodes take place in a hotel that has never been used as a setting for the series before. Sports clubs are also explored, as well as beach volleyball. What is also noteworthy is that "Local is global": the more local the plot, the more global it is.
Within the team, several writers are from Reunion, as is one of the directors, which allows us to really reflect local society and to offer an accurate vision of local reality. Moreover, the cast, which is diverse, resembles what Reunion Island is: different ethnic groups living together peacefully. It should be noted that the wealth or social success of local people is not linked to their ethnic background.
The series uses 85% local technicians, who have been working on the series for seven years. In addition, the production provides training on site to enable young people from Reunion to access  audiovisual professions. We take 20 trainees on the shoot. They then find work on the spot very easily thanks to the experience acquired with our teams. Everyone is happy to be there and to help others.

What's the reaction been like since the series was broadcast on France 3?

BC: Season 3 was broadcast on France 3 this summer. Thus, France 3 created an annual day time appointment throughout summer. And the primetime episodes were then broadcast in the fall.
In replay, Pacific Criminal is the third most viewed program of all France Télévisions' channels! It is third after Plus belle la vie, whereas the latter is much more present on France Télévisions. This is a real guarantee of success.

What are the series' main aspects for connecting with an international audience?

Marie-Laure HébrardMarie-Laure HébrardMarie-Laure Hébrard: In addition to being a series whose plots are well constructed and very interesting, the time it devotes to humor and romance allows us to get attached to the various characters; viewers want to know more. The series makes you dream: it shows singular and original settings, it is shot in beautiful, very soft natural light. Spectators have the possibility to mentally escape and relax. This series shot in exotic settings allows them to travel from their living room and possibly plan their next vacation there. The audience has the opportunity to become very familiar with the characters whose private lives and investigations we follow. The characters become almost friends to the viewer.
Finally, the fact that there are a large number of episodes allows the broadcasters to retain a day time audience without any problem.

You've already had good international sales, can you tell us about this? Do you have any initial feedback from your audience?

MLH: To date, we have 94 episodes available: this is wonderful for international broadcasters, who have the possibility of building audience loyalty by scheduling the series on a daily basis and being able to run it for about 20 weeks. In addition, the series is a real success in terms of audience: we have excellent feedback from Spain where the series was broadcast on one of the Antena 3 channels. The ratings there are excellent.
Sales have already been finalized in several territories: the United States (MHZ and Lingopie platforms), Spain (one of Antena 3's channels), Eastern Europe (TVN and LNK channels), but also in Africa and the Seychelles (the SBC channel). We are also waiting for a proposal from Portugal.
Following the Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Biarritz, Belgium has confirmed its interest in the series and has purchased it for broadcast in 2023. It will probably be scheduled in the fall.
Finally, a more atypical sale was made to a platform that teaches French in the USA, Lingopie, which liked the series' tilting to a younger audience.

What are your ambitions for the future?

MLH: International sales are just getting underway. Having 94 episodes will generate more interest. I think that Italy will soon acquire the series. I'm also sure that other Eastern European territories will buy it soon. There could also be interest from Canada, which is increasingly interested in French fiction, and certainly from Latin America, which is already successfully broadcasting our series Meurtre à.

Contact : TV Department

Latest update : 11 March 2023 à 18:12 CET

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Terence Films

Activities :  Executive Producer, Co-production

Recent filmography : Magnificat, Pacific Criminal

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Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Biarritz - 2022

Type : Programme

Theme : All films