ZDF Studios

Company Info

ZDF Studios, founded in 1993, is a private subsidiary of ZDF, one of the largest and most renowned television broadcasters in Europe. Based in Mainz, the company is responsible for distributing programs worldwide, implementing international co-productions, acquiring licenses and merchandising key brands under its own name, for ZDF and for third parties. Successfully established as an independent market player in Germany and globally, it operates as part of a strong network of 30 direct and indirect subsidiaries and affiliates. ZDF… Read more

Contacts

To see the full company contact list with phone and email please Click here

Dr. Markus Schäfer

President & CEO

Karoline Meichsner-Sertl

Executive VP

Robert Franke

VP Drama

Ralf Rückauer

VP Unscripted

SHOWCASE: ZDF Studios Brings Out Broad, Appeal-Packed Slate

This summer, a new president and CEO took the mantle at ZDF Studios. Dr. Markus Schäfer, a former CEO of All3Media Deutschland, is now heading up the storied German company, which arrives at MIPCOM with a packed slate across drama, kids, factual and entertainment.

“Our diverse new slate for MIPCOM features a range of ambitious and high-caliber shows,” says Schäfer. “We are proud to be working with some of the world’s most gifted producers, alongside our own network of production companies, and are always open to meeting new international creative talents. We are looking forward to taking our new slate out at MIPCOM.”

From the ZDF Studios Drama catalog, Boundless—Magellan’s and Elcano’s Journey to the Edge of the Earth features an epic adventure, following the quest of Juan Sebastián Elcano and Ferdinand Magellan around the world after they set sail from Spain 500 years ago. Simon West (Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderBlack Hawk Down) directs, and the cast boasts Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld) and Álvaro Morte (Money Heist). The event series features high production values and is shot in locales such as the Dominican Republic, Basque Country, Madrid and Seville.

Emmy Award winning-showrunner Frank Doelger (Game of Thrones) is behind The Swarm, based on Frank Schätzing’s international bestseller of the same name. The story follows as a group of scientists come together believing that there is an intelligent life force dwelling in the deep Arctic Ocean, capable of manipulating its environment, the ocean and everything that resides in it. They undertake a daring mission, manning a cutting-edge, technologically-engineered vessel to track it and go deep into the Arctic Ocean in search of this unknown menace. ZDF Studios and Beta Film are jointly distributing The Swarm.

The award-winning Irish actress Charlene McKenna (BloodlandsPeaky BlindersVienna Blood) stars in the drama Clean Sweep. She plays Shelly Mohan, a housewife and mother of three married to a Garda detective (Barry Ward; Jimmy’s HallBlood Cells), who kills her former partner in crime when he threatens to expose her dark past. Inspired by actual events, it tells a compelling and relentless story of mothering and the price paid for long-buried sins.

In the unscripted arena, Surviving Hothouse Earth shines a light on the topic of global warming. The three-part doc investigates Earth’s distant past to understand its present and unravel its future, with each episode covering a separate issue: oceans, land and civilization. Cinematic shots of nature, landscapes and urban life are combined with interviews with international experts.

Sweeping aerial views are front and center in Africa from Above, which promises a fresh perspective of the continent. The ten-part series covers natural wonders and diverse habitats, provides a look at indigenous wild animals and celebrates the people who live and work in various countries. ZDF Studios will hold a screening of this impressive series at MIPCOM on Monday, October 17, from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Auditorium A of the Palais des Festivals, followed by a Q&A with the experts involved in this production: Ralf Rückauer (VP Unscripted at ZDF Studios), Bo Stehmeier (CEO of Off the Fence), Friederike Haedecke (deputy head of department for History + Society at ZDF), Marcus Arthur (CEO of UKTV and president of BBC Studios U.K. and Ireland) and Wolfgang Bergmann (managing director of ARTE Germany and coordinator of ARTE for ZDF).

Taking a look back in history, War Gamers spotlights the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS or the Wrens). It tells the stories of how an all-female team was recruited to unpick how German U-boats were sinking so many British and American ships and how they even devised tactics to defeat them.

ZDF Studios recently added to its catalog the format Quiz Hunt. It sees players compete in a life-sized board game where, in order to move forward, the two contestants—one being the winner from the previous round—have to answer questions correctly. The show has already proven to be a hit on ServusTV, where it occupies a 5 p.m. slot and has achieved average ratings of 7.9 percent this year.

For the youngest set of viewers, ZDF Studios is presenting Grisù, about a little dragon who dreams of becoming a firefighter. From Mondo TV and Toon2Tango, the show’s animated protagonist is able to draw on his heroic spirit and never gives up. 

Another highlight from the Junior slate, Törtle centers on a tortoise who grew up in a pet shop, though he is neither a pet nor a wild animal. In every episode, Törtle gets caught up in the culture clash between humans and animals but always emerges as the unexpected hero.

In Mimo & Leva—Back to the Bronze Age, two kids with different paths in life (and other plans from what those predetermined paths are!) experience exciting adventures, overcome outdated traditions and forge their own futures. The animated series takes young viewers back in history.

SHOWCASE: ZDF Studios—New Name, Same Top-Flight Quality

MIPTV is the first market for the just-rebranded ZDF Studios. The name change—from ZDF Enterprises, which it was founded as in 1993—expresses more precisely and accurately what the company does today.

“We are a large licensing company selling and co-producing content as well as acquiring rights,” explains Fred Burcksen, president and CEO. “On the other hand, we are a major production group, a studio that is responsible for creating national and international TV content. We get involved right at the early stages—taking an idea, developing it, producing it and then successfully marketing the show.” 

ZDF Studios consists of around 30 subsidiaries and affiliated companies. Its partners include public and private television broadcasters, independent producers and streaming platforms. “We are today one of the largest media companies in Europe,” Burcksen says. “We cordially invite anybody with good ideas to talk to us at ZDF Studios or to our production companies about investments, sales and distribution. So please get in touch!”

The ZDF Studios slate spans many genres, with drama being a particularly strong area. Its latest scripted offerings include the suspense-filled Stories to Stay Awake. “Chicho Ibáñez Serrador’s Stories to Stay Awake revolutionized the Spanish television landscape back in the ’60s,” says Burcksen. “And now, more than 50 years later, it returns to transform it once again.” 

The rebooted series features as directors the genre talents Rodrigo Cortés, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Paula Ortiz and Paco Plaza, who “continue in the tradition of the iconic series to explore new cinematic language and unique film narratives,” says Burcksen. “The resurrection of the legendary Spanish horror series entails four stand-alone episodes that give homage to the past and are on the cutting edge of the future.” 

Also in the drama catalog, White Night follows a family struggling to cope with an imbalance of power wielded by a person who is no longer alive, interwoven with a murder mystery. The story takes place over two parallel time periods: the 1970s and the present day.

Africa from Above
Africa from Above

ZDF Studios is also home to a bevy of documentary fare, with history and natural history standing strong. “Breathtaking nature films are always in fashion and, thankfully, there is a new trend for documentaries aimed at raising ecological awareness,” says Burcksen, highlighting the ten-part Africa from Above. The wildlife and nature series takes viewers on a high-flying journey above the continent along with expert conservationists, adventurers and extreme athletes. It also celebrates the people who live and work in various countries—from vibrant cities to deep in the African bush—and explores their history, architecture, engineering and industries. Burcksen calls it an “uplifting and visually captivating series that shows the remarkable diversity of the continent.” 

The 90-minute Going Circular explores the concept of circularity, an economic system based on the idea that nothing should go to waste. The film tells the story of four visionaries from around the world, whose thinking shapes and informs the concept of circularity: 102-year-old inventor Dr. James Lovelock, biomimicry biologist Janine Benyus, engineer and designer Arthur Huang and financier John Fullerton. “The extraordinary experiences of these very different people changed the way they think about humanity’s future,” Burcksen says. “Through the deeply personal transformation of each visionary profiled, the film Going Circular explores concrete solutions that individuals and communities are using to move toward a more circular society, rethinking everything from our food, cities and financial system to even our fashion industry.”

There’s also a robust roster of kids’ content within the ZDF Studios portfolio. “Animation and live action are always in fashion and, luckily, we have a large catalog of it!” Burcksen says. 

Highlights include the animated series Pettson and Findus, about an old, inventive farmer and his loyal but impudent cat. It is based on a children’s book series by Sven Nordqvist. “At MIPTV, we are presenting 26 brand-new episodes, full of creative, heartwarming and enjoyable stories,” Burcksen says. 

In the way of live action, Theodosia transports its young viewers to the year 1905, following the 14-year-old daughter of two Egyptologists excavating in the Valley of the Kings. The show is shot in a cinematic style in France and Belgium.

“Within the ZDF Studios group, we cover every step in the development of great content—from the first idea to production, marketing and successful distribution,” Burcksen says. “We are putting an emphasis on our network and working more closely together as a group, rather than individual companies, using our individual expertise in the best possible way. This will be to the benefit of all of us, the group, the affiliates and, of course, our clients and partners.”

Company profile

ZDF Studios, founded in 1993, is a private subsidiary of ZDF, one of the largest and most renowned television broadcasters in Europe. Based in Mainz, the company is responsible for distributing programs worldwide, implementing international co-productions, acquiring licenses and merchandising key brands under its own name, for ZDF and for third parties. Successfully established as an independent market player in Germany and globally, it operates as part of a strong network of 30 direct and indirect subsidiaries and affiliates. ZDF Studios has a constantly growing catalog of national and international productions, consisting of series and miniseries, TV movies, documentaries and children’s programs. The ZDF Studios group today provides a comprehensive full-service offer that covers every stage in the creation and exploitation chain of successful TV productions in all genres, from developing content to producing, licensing, marketing, merchandising, online rights and much more.

Contacts

To see the full company contact list with phone and email please Click here

Dr. Markus Schäfer

President & CEO

Karoline Meichsner-Sertl

Executive VP

Robert Franke

VP Drama

Ralf Rückauer

VP Unscripted

Dr. Markus Schäfer

President & CEO

Karoline Meichsner-Sertl

Executive VP

Robert Franke

VP Drama

Ralf Rückauer

VP Unscripted

Peter Lang

VP Junior

Christine Denilauler

VP, Marketing & Corporate Communications

All from ZDF Studios

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