Africa's biggest co-production to date, with a combined budget of 27 million US dollars, is currently shooting in and around Johannesburg with Hollywood A-list talent.
"The Professionals," a television action series depicting the high risk lives of Private Military Contractors (PMC's) is an Official Ireland - Republic of South Africa Co-Production with primary locations in South Africa and Ireland. Financing for the series has been arranged by the IDC, Cofiloisirs with the support of IFCIC, Aperture Media, Tele Munchen Group, and Viaplay.
South African funding has played a major role with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) making the single largest investment and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) preapproving the rebate application.
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy), Tom Welling (Smallville), Elena Anaya (Wonderwoman) and Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle) are set to star in this new action adventure series supported by Ken Duken (Inglorious Basterds), Lisa Loven Kongsli (Force Majeure) , August Wittgenstein (Das Boot) as well as local artists Stevel Marc (Of Good Report), Tanya van Graan (Zulu), Kai Luke Brummer (Origins), and Nic Rasenti (Outlander), who will be season regulars. A host of other South African actors will also enjoy the privilege of participating alongside these stars and international exposure when the series sells worldwide. Of note is newcomer Jazzara Jaslyn who made a strong impression with the sales agent Telemunchen.
The series also boasts a strong contingent of black South Africans both behind and in front of the camera with an equally strong female and black female contingent, making this one of the most diverse contemporary television shows to emerge from post apartheid South Africa. Of note is director Thabang Moleya (Happiness is a Four Letter Word, Jacobs Cross) who will be making his mark in international television directing 2 key episodes of "The Professionals." Spier Films (uCarmen eKhayelitsha, The Salvation, Of Good Report, An Act of Defiance, The Harvesters), led by its directors Micheal Auret and Dr. Lwazi Manzi, is the South African co-producing company in the first high budget television series to be shot under the auspices of the South Africa/ Ireland co-production treaty.
Says Executive Producer Michael "Mike" Auret: "We are extremely proud to demonstrate the strength of co-production and the promises that it brings to the South African film industry and our economy at large. I would like to thank my colleagues Jeff Most of Most Media in the US and Latvia and Tristan Orpen Lynch of Subotica in Ireland for believing in this model and in the ability of the South African jurisdiction to deliver on its mandates. Most of all, we thank the Industrial Development Corporation and Department of Trade and Industry for their unwavering commitment to the project as a tool for job creation, attracting Foreign Direct Investment and fostering good international relations through cultural diplomacy.
Dr. Lwazi Manzi, producer of "The Professionals" adds "It is particularly gratifying to walk on set and see a diverse representation both in front of and behind the camera. To see our stars holding their own with international stars, and to be able to do what any other big studio does is an exciting leapfrogging exercise that I can assure my colleagues can be undertaken by anyone who has the ambition and grit to survive it. I truly hope that what we are doing here will embolden others to do the same.
Principal photography started in Dublin on 26 May 2019 and the South African leg began 3 June 2019
TM International to handle worldwide sales
Anchor broadcaster Viaplay to distribute the series in Scandinavia
RTL II pre-bought free-tv rights for German speaking Europe
Los Angeles (USA)/Munich (Germany), May, 31, 2019 - Brendan Fraser (Trust, The Mummy, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, School Ties), Tom Welling (Smallville, Cheaper by the dozen,
Parkland), Elena Anaya (Wonder Woman's "Dr. Poison", The Skin I live In, MotherFatherSon), Said Taghmaoui (John Wick 3, Wonder Woman, American Hustle), Ken Duken (Inglourious Basterds, Counterpart), Lisa Loven Kongsli (Force Majeure, Wonder Woman, Ashes in the Snow) and August Wittgenstein (Das Boot, Hidden) have been cast in the new English-language action series THE PROFESSIONALS, which started principal photography on the 10-episode first season this week for anchor broadcaster Viaplay in Scandinavia. Tele Munchen Group is handling worldwide sales via its subsidiary TM International. Both companies are part of the new company led by Fred Kogel, which will emerge from Tele Munchen Group (TMG), Universum Film, i&u TV and Wiedemann & Berg Film. TM International will present the one-hour series at this year's Mipcom. Germany's nationwide TV channel RTL II has pre-bought the free-TV rights.
Set against a backdrop of international espionage and corporate sabotage in the 21st century's privately- funded space race, THE PROFESSIONALS stars Tom Welling as a hardened former counterintelligence officer, Captain Vincent Corbo. After their advanced medical satellite explodes on deployment, billionaire futurist Peter Swann,Brendan Fraser, and his fiancee, medical visionary Dr. Graciela "Grace" Davila, Elena Anaya, turn to Corbo. Corbo assembles a team of experienced professionals to investigate the incident. They learn that any combination of Swann's business rivals, corrupt governments officials, and a shadowy crime syndicate could be behind the attack and represent a continued threat. Ken Duken plays a Europol agent seeking to thwart the security team's efforts.
The first three episodes will be directed by Bharat Nalluri (MI-5 aka Spooks: The Greater Good; The Man Who Invented Christmas). The series was created by Jeff Most(The Crow, The Specialist) and is loosely based on Roadside Attractions' feature film release Soldiers of Fortune, also produced by Most. Michael Colleary will serve as the series' showrunner and head writer. Colleary's producing credits include Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderandFace/Off(Co-Producer, Co-Writer), and his television showrunner credits include Tarzan and Unnatural History. The series will be produced by Katy Most, and Lwazi Manzi, Aoife O'Sullivan, as co-producers serve Kim Williams and Natalie McAuley and Associate Producer is Jessica Smith.
"This is the kind of television that couldn't be more timely or topical as it imagines billionaires using their wealth to deploy private military units to achieve their political and business goals," said series creator Jeff Most.
Maijang Mpherwane, South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation's head of media and audio visual said, "Bringing film and television production to South Africa is a goal of the government and we are tremendously excited that THE PROFESSIONALS will be shooting throughout our country. We have highly skilled labor and extraordinary locations."
Herbert L. Kloiber, managing director of TM International: "With this incredible international cast, this is the kind of action series that has enormous global appeal and we have already seen interest for THE PROFESSIONALS overseas. We are very excited about the way this series has come together and are looking forward to strong activity from now on up until MIPCOM."
Added Viaplay's Fredrik Ljungberg, "Given where we are with the privatization of corporate space exploration and with the world class production companies and marquis named cast involved on THE PROFESSIONALS, this series had all the outstanding elements that made this an excellent programming choice for the team at Viaplay."
The series is a production of Most Media, Subotica, Spier Films Production and Roadside Attractions in association with Jeff Most Productions, Highbridge Production, Tele Munchen Group and Viaplay.
Michael Colleary will Executive Produce along with Jeff Most, Tristan Orpen Lynch, Michael Auret, Howard Cohen, Eric d'Arbeloff, and Jennifer Berman, Roadside's SVP, who is leading the company's charge into television. Other Executive Producers include Herbert L. Kloiber, Thomas Augsberger, Cosima von Spreti,Roadside Attractions' Howard Cohen and Eric d'Arbeloff add: "We could not be more thrilled about the cast and creative team behind THE PROFESSIONALS. This is the second series, the first being Lionsgate TV's Dear White People on Netflix, that we've helped bring to television based on one of Roadside's theatrical releases."
Daniel Wagner, Maxim Korostyshevsky, Bharat Nalluri, Fredrik Ljungberg, Brendan Fraser, Tom Welling and Elena Anaya.
Brendan Fraser is represented by Stephen Hirsh from The Gersh Agency, JoAnne Colonna from Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Patti Felker from Felker Toczek Suddelson Abramson. Tom Welling and Said Taghmaoui are both represented by David Unger at Artist International. Elena Anaya is represented by Steve Alexander from ICM and Katrina Bayonas from Kuranda Management. Ken Duken is repped by Ruth A. Young from United Agents and from Agentur Hahlweg. August Wittgenstein is represented by Harriet Laura Munsterhjelm from Actors in Scandinavia.