Grand Jury Perspective: Pedro Lopes, SP Televisão

New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards Grand Jury is comprised of  some of the world’s most award-winning Directors, Producers, Writers, Actors and other global media professionals. Each Grand Jury member has achieved prominence within the industry and garnered respect for their creative contributions.

Pedro Lopes, Content Director for SP Televisão Portugal

NYF’s Grand Jury Perspective offers an intimate glimpse into the thought process and creative insights of these industry superstars who serve on the Grand Jury.

This week, New York Festivals TV & Film Op-Ed blog interviewed Pedro Lopes, Content Director for SP Televisão Portugal. Pedro shares his knowledge and industry expertise with the next generation, teaching at ESCS – School of Communication and Media studies and at UCP – Catholic University of Lisbon. He is also Vice-coordinator of the Portuguese team of IberoAmerican Observatory of Television Fiction (OBITEL). 

In 2016,Pedro was awarded the Gold Medal at the New York Festival’s World’s Best TV & Film Awards for the Telenovela “Coração d’Ouro” (Heart of Gold).  Additional accolades  include earning an International Emmy Award in 2011 for Best Telenovela for “Lacos de Sangue”  and a nomination for the 2013 Sophia Awards from the Portuguese Cinema Academy for Best Original Screenplay for “Assim Assim.” 

In the interview below, Pedro shares his thoughts on what makes great content, his personal journey towards success, his upcoming projects and more!

New York Festivals: Talk about what qualities makes great content?

Pedro Lopes: A good story, well-told. The formula is apparently easy, but we can spend a lifetime discussing which elements are part of a good story and the narrative strategies that result in a viewer watching episode after episode. Maybe because it’s so difficult to explain, that most storytelling courses that sell miracle formulas are given by people who never wrote a thing! Even so, for me a good concept always begins with a different and original view over the world, being this world inhabited by complex characters who find themselves in moments of decision.

New York Festivals: What was your mantra for career success? Was your path to success linear or winding road?

Pedro Lopes: Never confuse the world with my backyard. It’s important to travel, be open to others and listen to their stories. If we close ourselves in our professional universe, surround by executives, writers and actors only, we will live in a parallel reality that is very unexciting for anyone who is interested in telling stories.

My journey has been quite consistent, but I had to wait for the opportunities. In 2000, I started writing for entertainment at Endemol. Before writing fiction, I wrote for other authors and  later I began to coordinate projects at Plural.  In 2007, I was invited to be the content director of SP Televisão and began to sign my own projects.

I’m always surprised when I look back, after receiving my degree in History at the Faculty of Arts in Lisbon, I went on to teach at a high school, and from one moment to the next, things took a different turn.

New York Festivals: What projects are on the horizon for you?

Pedro Lopes

Pedro Lopes: This year’s end will be tough. I just wrote a feature film and it should go into pre-production early next year, and as content director, I’m supervising projects by other authors for SIC and RTP. But once 2018 starts, I will concentrate exclusively on a new TV series that will mark the entrance of SP Televisão into a new fiction market.

New York Festivals: How has video streaming changed your creative approach?

Pedro Lopes: In Portugal, largely due to problems of Digital Terrestrial Television, over 80% of the population already uses subscription TV service. However, despite this number, the law does not oblige operators to produce and broadcast national content. For this reason, so far the national authors have not written for the cable channels nor for the over-the-top (OTT) that already operate in the Portuguese territory. Therefore, the market we have access to is that of free-to-air stations, with more family oriented fiction and less for niche markets. Nonetheless, there have been changes because the public has progressively become more media literate.

The type of fiction that we try to do in SP Televisão is very oriented towards a new, more authorial sensitivity, with complex stories and less manichaean characters. Thanks to the path that we have been on for 10 years,  we are not only looking for formulas that are comfortable for the public and that can guarantee rating, but we believe that quality brings audiences.  We know that we have become interesting for some of the OTT newcomers to our market.

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