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Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Juan Carlos I: Money, Sex, Power and the Downfall of a King. Case Study of a €2.5 Mn Docu-series

King Juan Carlos I was a Spanish hero.

He was celebrated around the world for helping Spain transition from Franco-era fascism to a modern democracy.

And then, a series of financial scandals and salacious allegations forced Juan Carlos to abdicate in 2014.

Christian Beetz reveals how his 4-part documentary series sheds new light on the former King’s personal life including his affairs, allegations of corruption, and his alleged abuse of power leading up to the events of his abdication.

It is told from the perspective of his close friends and confidants, palace insiders, former intelligence officials and critics.

Trailer (2′)

 

Video Interview

Concept

A high-end docu-thriller investigates the allegations surrounding the former King of Spain in his struggle for money, sex and power.

The Producers

  • The series was created by Christian Beetz of Berlin-based Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion (GBF). 
  • GBF is a documentary powerhouse, producing award-winning features and series for cinema, TV and streaming – for the German as well as the international market.
(Image courtesy of GBF)

Key Creatives & Executives

  • Emmy-nominated Christian Beetz created the series for GBF, known as Beetz Bros.
  • Showrunner Georg Tschurtschenthaler was director and responsible for the editing process.
  • Anne von Petersdorff is producer at GBF and did most of the interviews. She shares the credit as co-director with Georg Tschurtschenthaler.
  • Pedro Barbadillo was the initial author and did some of the interviews.
  • Executive Producers at Sky Deutschland are Christian Asanger and Felix Kempter.
  • Sky Studios EP: Barnaby Shingleton.
  • Legal team: Christoph Fey and Sebastian Gorsky (vonHave & Fey)

Development

  • “We did not want to make a biopic or historical docu-series. Instead, we wanted to tell the story in a narrative and emotional way, from the perspective of the people who lived it.”
  • “The challenge was to convince and get access to people, so we started with journalists, biographers, authors, etc., and little by little we got more and more access.”
  • “It’s a ‘stranger than fiction’ story and its main protagonists are complex and develop in intriguing ways throughout… the approach needed to allow contradictions and different perspectives.”

Development Expense

  • “Before we signed the contracts with Sky and NBCU we had already invested more than Euros 600k in the production. At this stage we secured the access to the main characters.”

Development Funding

  • Development was supported by the film fund MBB – Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg.
  • Operating under the umbrella of LEONINE Studios since October 2022, Beetz Bros has a development fund and is investing in financing international premium documentaries.

(London Times coverage)

Hacked!

The project became a much more investigative effort than we had initially planned. We had big problems with cybersecurity throughout the process of production. Our webpage was hacked, we received strange calls warning us during the process of the first interviews, and we experienced hacking of our communication channels like emails, telephones, and so on. The story changed the more we got involved with the topic and started digging deeper into it. As a result of that, the project was very closely tied to legal issues and we had to work intensively with lawyers.”

The Deal

  • ZDF liked the concept, but only wanted a 43-minute version.
  • Sky wanted a 4-part series.
  • After 4 months of negotiations, terms were agreed between ZDF (free TV rights) and Sky (pay TV).
  • Sky offered to be the exclusive partner, with a minimum guarantee (MG) by NBCU as distributor.
  • Fremantle and Dogwoof also offered MG’s for distribution.

Production Timeline

  • The project started in April 2021.
  • Final delivery: February 2023.

Field Production

  • From April 2021 – December 2022.
  • Depending on what we were filming, between 4-15 people on set or location.

Post

  • Editing started right at the beginning as soon as we received the very first material.

Production Budget

  • Estimated: €2.6 million
  • Final budget: €2.5 million

Format

  • 4 x 45-minute episodes.
  • 90-min version is planned.
  • 4K.

Archive

  • Archive partners include: Radio y Televisión Española (Archivo RTVE Y Archivo NO-DO), Agencia EFE, Pond5, STV Central Limited, Getty Images, INA – Institut national de l’audiovisuel, Screenocean, and Archivo Atresmedia.

 

World Premiere

Delivery

  • The series was delivered in May 2023 to Sky Germany and all Sky territories including England, Ireland, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

Titles

  • JUAN CARLOS – Downfall of the king
  • German: JUAN CARLOS – Liebe, Geld, Verrat
  • UK: JUAN CARLOS – Downfall of a playboy king
  • Spanish: JUAN CARLOS: amor, tradición y dinero

Versions

  • German and English subtitled.
  • German dubbed.
  • Spanish.

Channels & Platforms

  • Sky Germany.
  • Sky Italy.
  • SkyShowtime Spain (22nd May).

Distribution

  • NBCU handles global distribution for the series outside the committed markets.

Key Takeaways

Christian Beetz:

  • “We are now working on a fiction series based on the documentary series and all of the entailing research.”
  • “This is a new trend, to use the knowledge of a prime documentary for a fiction production.”
  • “For example, Last Breath is a documentary by Alex Parkinson that is now in production with a 40-million-budget fiction film using the IP from the documentary.”

Peter:

  • Beetz Bros’ appetite for risk is formidable.
  • The project underlines the scale of funding potentially available in Europe for complex investigative stories.
  • The availability of government funding for development established credentials for the project, and was an important success factor according to Christian Beetz.
  • The film combines familiar sub-genres: True Crime and Celebrity / Notoriety, and a timeline that piggybacked on another heavily promoted event centered on an aging king.

Press

More GBF Documentaries 

More Reading

Editorial assistance: Caitlin Cooper and Yara Hueck Costa


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