“Locked Up” Co-Creator Iván Escobar Talks New Series, “Express”
One of four Starzplay productions for the Spanish-speaking market, “Express” has been commissioned by the platform in Spain and US-based premium Spanish-language streamer Pantaya, marking the two production companies’ arrival in Spain. companies that have fully embraced the non- talents so hidden in the Spanish and Latin American markets and anticipate their development potential.
Written by “Locked Up” co-creator Iván Escobar and co-produced by Spanish giant The Mediapro Studio, responsible for some of Spain’s biggest international TV titles (“The Head”), the show embodies the coming together of the talent of Spanish writer and high production values. The result is a high-octane thriller that spins the crime procedural genre and devotes its attention to the emotional aftermath that hits its characters with the violence of shrapnel.
The frenetic pace of the series is supported by the strong presence of its lead actress Barbara, played by a versatile Maggie Civantos (“Locked Up”), a criminal psychologist who deals with express kidnappings, a type of crime where time is precious and loser. an hour can mean losing the victim’s life. A victim of kidnapping herself and still dealing with its consequences, Barbara’s impatience with police protocols that often prevent her from saving a life leads her to less orthodox methods that put everyone around her in danger.
Variety spoke with Escobar when the series premiered on Starzplay.
What interested you in these types of crimes?
The seminal idea came from a meeting I had not long ago in which there were no chairs and when I asked about it they just said it was supposed to be an express meeting. This concept underlined the thoughts I had around the express world we live in. Everything is express, food, sex, divorces, even relationships are express. However, this type of crime is on the rise, especially after the pandemic. We talked about it a lot with the police and what is really terrifying in this type of crime is that it democratizes fear. That is to say, very few people walk into a bank with a shotgun to attack it, but anyone can have a bad day, a couple of friends and a car with an open trunk. And that’s where the drama begins, two eighteen-year-old boys, a trunk and the anguish that can lead to a crime that changes you and breaks your life forever.
The show showcases upcoming technology represented by impeccable visual effects. Yet when it comes to special effects, it’s always about refining how well it works for audiences.
As soon as it was launched cutting-edge technology was a clear selling point, but it offered a risk we could fall into, which is that this ultra-tech world pushes the boundaries of credibility by falling into a story almost dystopian with cold familyless characters. who solve kidnappings. We needed to include a human spectrum to ground this technological world, a world of silly jokes, of the mundane office, of going to school because your daughter forgot her gym clothes.
The series plays with the procedural archetype of the police, introducing non-traditional character archetypes to the format. I wonder what your guidelines were in terms of format?
Definitely, new models are being built and I think in this world where streaming fiction has had an absolute explosion, it gives us an opportunity to try to normalize a world that used to be treated as a rarity, where a woman , trans or a non-binary character can be the protagonist and no one bats an eyelid. Because it’s true, we come from an absolutely Kafkaesque world, biased towards a rather masculine gaze. I think the nuances are much richer by avoiding places that are already known. The same goes for Barbara. The role was not written simply to help the wind in the sails of a new femininity, but because we wanted to give this wonderful actress a character to show her true skills in the face of this type of conflict and chaos. She’s a flawed character who turns plates the way many women have to between working, maintaining a home, building a family, healing the wounds of a crumbling marriage and acting in as a leader.
As soon as it starts, “Express” enters a fast montage that formally underlines its ideas. How was this tempo found?
We worked with the clear conviction that the defined could not be separated from the definition. That is, if we are talking about an express company, then the narrative had to be express as well. Some conflicts can’t be fully fleshed out just because of the thousands of things going on at the same time, that was our intention and we couldn’t have done it, of course, without Gabe Ibáñez and our editors who perfectly internalized this premise. Ibáñez, comes from the world of advertising where ten seconds are enough to build a whole world. So it was he who really gave value and presence to these settings and speed to this story. I know there comes a time when today’s viewer gets bored, so for us that meant more sequences and sets, but I think we managed to create an exciting beat.
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