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Sparks Network creating drama division with Ludo Poppe investment

Ludo Poppe has bought into Sparks Network, which will now create a dedicated scripted division.

Poppe is the former boss of Kanakna, the Benelux-based production company acquired by Zodiak in 2007. He was subsequently president of Zodiak’s US operation before setting up Ecchomedia.

His company becomes the majority shareholder in Sparks while cofounders Fredrik af Malmborg and Nicola Söderlund remain major share holders and will continue to run the company.

Sparks is a network of 24 production companies that develop mainly unscripted formats at a local level that are then shared in the group and distributed internationally.

The launch of a standalone network of scripted format producers means geographic expansion, Spark co-founder Fredrik af Malmborg told TBIvision. “We are planning to recruit scripted members in new countries,” he said. “We have hired a high-end development executive, Ruth McCance, to work on the scripted network and we think that there is some good intellectual property out there that is under-developed and by providing some resources we can take it to the next level, which the individual format companies may not have the resources to do.”

McCance joins from London-based film producer Potboiler (Blindness, Shrooms).

Malmborg said that the first members of the scripted network will be announced within weeks.

Producers in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia are expected to be the first to join.

“In a world where ideas travel at the speed of the Internet, the network model is the future of the international IP business. Sparks as an idea was ahead of its time,” Ludo Poppe said. “We promise the independent creators of hit formats that we will take better care of them and we promise the market that we will bring them mature and strong hit formats from around the world.”

Ecchomedia subsidiary, Brussels-based Eccholine has relaunched the Peking Express format, which has been picked up by Net5 in the Netherlands and M6 in France.