“It’s a small production company, and we’re very much about developing our own ideas and fresh takes on existing ideas,” Sarah Lancashire told a crowd of industry heads inside the sparkling new Draken Hotel at the Göteborg Film Festival when quizzed on her new indie shingle Via Pictures.
Lancashire discussed Via Pictures, which she launched last year following her run on the BBC’s Happy Valley, alongside her wider career as part of her keynote session on the second day of Göteborg’s series sidebar TV Drama Vision. Lancashire heads Via Pictures alongside her husband Peter Salmon, former Exec Chair of Banijay UK. Salmon is also a former BBC North boss who led the corporation’s relocation to Salford 10 years ago, founded Sport Relief and was exec producer on Aardman Animations’ The Wrong Trousers.
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The session was chaired by Lars Blomgren, head of international at Media Res (Scenes from a Marriage). Continuing to describe the remit of Via Pictures, Lancashire said, “We have a handful of passion projects,” before adding that she and her team were recently “taken by surprise” by a novel, which she described as a “remarkable piece of writing.” Lancashire said her company is now working on an adaptation. She did not name the book or project, and no time was given for audience members to ask questions.
“We weren’t looking to adapt any books. But we found a book. Or it found us, and it’s a remarkable piece of writing and fiercely difficult to adapt,” she said.
Separately, last year, it was reported that Lancashire has teamed with Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight to bring the story of William Shakespeare’s First Folio to screen. We reported that the pair are in the initial stages of creating a series about Shakespeare’s life to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of his first work. The series is being made by Kudos, which previously created Knight’s series about the origins of British elite forces, SAS Rogue Heroes, in association with Via Pictures.
Later, during the session in Göteborg, Lancashire told the audience that taking on the role of producing feels like the “natural thing to do” at her current stage of life despite the inherent difficulties of the job.
“Producing is incredibly exposing. Every aspect of this is exposing, and you have to be terribly brave, and that’s why we all have to be kind,” she said.
Lancashire, however, was less forgiving about the pressures attached to acting on screen.
“I don’t think anybody really truly would become an actor if they had any sense,” she joked.
Lancashire concluded the session by reiterating that there wouldn’t be a fourth season of Happy Valley under any circumstances, telling the audience that she a writer-creator Sally Wainwright always had an agreement in place on the show’s finale.
“We had an agreement that we wouldn’t go further than three [seasons],” she said.
Göteborg’s TV Drama Vision ends this evening. The festival’s Nordic Film Market runs until Feb 2.
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