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Pinewood in drama JV with CTC founder

Scripted-logo-460_2British studio Pinewood Group has moved into high-end drama creation and financing through a new joint venture with CTC Media founder Peter Gerwe.

Pinewood and Gerwe’s StoryFirst PST have created Pinewood Television, which will “create, develop and finance high quality drama series for television for the international market”. It also plans to be involved with project distribution.

Helen Gregory, a British commissioner who co-created ABC-Shonda Rhimes drama The Catch, will lead the venture as creative director. She has a former Channel 4 drama commissioning editor and has worked for all of the major UK terrestrials. Recently, she’s worked on shows such as Sky Living’s The Enfield Haunting and Sky Atlantic’s Fortitude.

Pinewood Television will look to be both an originating producer and coproducer on “major” drama projects seeking deficit funding. The firm said it is “in the process of arranging long term external financing from a group of investors and banks to invest directly into its slate”.

The firm said it would be a “an important gap in the market acting as a one-stop shop” for producers by providing “development and deficit financing… with enhanced upside economics”. It will also seek to facilitate grennlighting of projects, and later marketing and international distribution rights.

“The global demand for high end television continues to rise dramatically and, with HETV fiscal incentives available, the Pinewood television business will participate in this growing market,” said Pinewood Group CEO Ivan Dunleavy. “Pinewood Television’s offering will build on the financing experience that Pinewood and StoryFirst has developed to date.”

JV partner Gerwe is best known for founding Russia’s CTC Media in 1989 as StoryFirst Communications in Delaware, US, and launching the national CTC network in 1996.

He was CEO of StoryFirst until its rebrand in 2004, and now operates Russian network JV Sony Pictures Cable Channels through StoryFirst PST with Sony Pictures Entertainment; and a Spanish venture with the family that owns the Hello! and Hola! celebrity gossip brands, which include a Hello! TV channel.

StoryFirst PST is a partnership vehicle with film financier Premila Hoon, who has worked on significant funding deals with the likes of Asia’s Toonz Entertainment.

“We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Pinewood, developing and building Pinewood Television into world class originator and owner of high quality television drama,” said Gerwe.

Pinewood’s involvement in high-end drama has increased since the introduction of drama tax breaks in April 2013. It already offers debt and equity financing to British film and TV productions.