EXCLUSIVE: The streaming revolution has finally gifted European creatives the opportunity to write sci-fi and other genres, according to Quoc Dang Tran, the creator of Disney+’s first French-language drama Parallèles.
Speaking exclusively to Deadline on the eve of the teen drama’s launch, Netflix’s Marianne creator said he came up with the idea more than a decade ago but there had been “no outlet for sci-fi” and other genres in non-English-language territories.
“Writers like me felt that we had the ability to tell these stories but weren’t allowed to do so,” he said. “For a while if it was fiction it had to be British or American. Some gave up the dream and others persisted.”
Reflecting on the current state of play, Dang Tran credited the streamers with “creating an electric shock” in the content market.
Disney+ alone is creating around one-third of its 60 planned non-U.S. originals in Europe over the next two years and Parallèles, which is co-written with Beyond Appearances’ Anastasia Heinzl and directed by Benjamin Rocher and Jean-Baptiste Saurel, is set to be the first in the French language.
Starring Thomas Chomel (Clem), Omar Mebrouk (HPI, Les Invisibles), Jules Houplain (The Promise, The Innocents) and Jade Pedri (Ils étaient dix), Empreinte Digitale and Daïmôn Films’ six-parter tells the story of four friends whose lives are turned upside down when a mysterious event scatters the group into different timelines. The four teenagers will do all they can to understand what has happened and try to get back to the carefree innocence of their former lives.
Dang Tran, who has also written for Call My Agent! and The Bureau, was inspired by teen films such as Stand By Me and The Goonies and the idea for Parallèles solidified when he spoke to PHD students working at European research organization CERN, who told him about particle collisions taking place 100 metres below ground.
“I thought about the machine below my feet and that’s where my story came from,” he said.
Having grown up with Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel films, Disney+ was his first port of call.
“The important thing about Disney is they ensure the story is never bigger than the characters. You might watch because it’s sci-fi but you stay for the characters, and Disney understands that.”
Although the trailer could invite comparisons to Netflix teen sci-fi smashes Stranger Things and Dark, these similarities end with being about teenagers and set in a dark forest, according to Dang Tran.
“For two seconds you may think about [Dark and Stranger Things] but Parallèles is a different story with a different tone.”
Dang Tran now hopes South Korean hits Parasite and Squid Game will inspire the next generation of non-English language filmmakers.
“It really felt like something changed after Parasite. You could watch the whole movie knowing the characters are Korean and at the same time really relate to them.”
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.