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“The injection of money through BH Content Lab really changed the production landscape for serialised content in Bosnia”

Industry Report: Series

Amra Bakšić Čamo • Producer, pro.ba

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We talked to the producer about the changing landscape for TV series production in Bosnia and the role she is playing in this process

Amra Bakšić Čamo  • Producer, pro.ba

Amra Bakšić Čamo used to be known primarily as a film producer involved in successful Bosnian and regional films, such as Full Moon [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nermin Hamzagić
film profile
]
, Stitches [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Miroslav Terzić
film profile
]
, Father [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Srdan Golubović
film profile
]
and The Happiest Man in the World [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Teona Strugar Mitevska
film profile
]
. More recently, however, she and her company, pro.ba, took a leading role in making a huge step forward in Bosnian TV production: she served as a producer on Danis Tanović’s crime-drama The Hollow, which has already had its first season aired in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, she is a producer on two upcoming projects, the sitcom Prince from L.A. and the fantasy-drama Komar. She was also a panellist and the presenter of several projects at NEM Zagreb, and on that occasion, we sat down to talk to her.

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Cineuropa: You were previously known as a film producer, so TV production is something fairly new for you. Also, varied TV production is a new thing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where you come from. Could you elaborate on this?
Amra Bakšić Čamo:
I mean, there is TV production in Bosnia, and our production company started producing non-scripted content for one of the national broadcasters. But for many years, it was extremely difficult, and there were basically no high-end drama series. There was only one extremely successful product, in terms of the region and in terms of local audiences – a comedy series that came from Bosnia – but that was it. Three years ago, Bosnian Telecom decided to start the BH Content Lab, which is basically a platform, a hub, for the development and production of serialised content. And that is what has actually changed the landscape, the huge financial investment and the understanding of why that is important.

But Bosnia is known for its cinema, for the Sarajevo Film Festival, for strong voices…
Yes, we do have a major presence on the world film map, from the point of view of production – as in, we have directors and writers whom people can recognise, and who are present at film festivals, nominated for Oscars and winning them. Also, there is the Sarajevo Film Festival. But in terms of TV, or serialised content for platforms and so on, we were virtually non-existent for many years, not only in the sense of communicating with international audiences, but also on the regional level.

Why so?
It’s very simple: there was no money. None of our private or public, national broadcasters wanted to invest, so in the end, even our successful comedy series was produced with money invested by Croatia. It was Bosnian, artistically, and in terms of the writer and director, but production-wise, the money came from Croatia.

Is this injection of money now bringing more diversity to serialised content?
Very much so. First of all, it’s a huge injection; it would be a lot of money even for a media scene that is not under-developed, like Bosnia’s, so in our situation, it’s a huge amount. Things are really changing, and it is improving a few aspects of things. Now, the writers, directors and creators have a chance to produce and to work on something that is actually going to be produced. On the other hand, there are suddenly a lot of jobs and many positions that are open to the younger generations in the creative sector.

It also brings a variety of products. You already have one season of a TV series under your belt, and you are working on new things.
We are working on one sitcom, Prince from L.A., and on one other TV series called Komar, which are both going to be filmed in 2023. They are both very different from The Hollow. We are hoping for a second season of The Hollow, so things are really moving forward – not only for us, but for the whole scene.

Bosnia also exists within the wider region, of sorts, alongside its neighbouring countries where the TV revolution has already started.
That’s why I think we are not starting from scratch. This is the point where we are kind of benefiting from the things that have been developed in Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. We have been keeping an eye on that, and the other audiences have been watching that. The market still exists; it is basically the same language. I mean, last year, a Croatian TV series was very successful on the Serbian market. We all really share a number of things, and it helped us not to start from zero, but rather from a certain level.

How long will this trend continue for, in your opinion?
That’s difficult to say because it was supposed to start earlier, but the pandemic postponed it. I hope that we will now be secure for two or three years, and it will be dependent on the success of what is produced, on the variety of things that are produced, and on how good we are at providing for our own market.

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