BERLIN — Slowly but surely, Madrid-based Telefonica’s original production drive is building on the other side of the Atlantic. The first Latin American series to be seen in Europe is “Ruido capital,” a Colombian six-episode series, a coming of age story that follows a group of misfit teenagers as they battle to form a rock band during the fraught period of 1990s Bogota. A show that lightheartedly manages to explore those strange years of adolescence as they unspool against a very real, very tough historical background.
The series is produced with Fidelio, an Colombian production company who has Mauricio Leiva Cock as its inhouse showrunner, a filmmaker who before his debut feature premieres has already worked as co creator of “Green Frontier” for Netflix, head writer on “Falco” for Amazon, TNT and Telemundo, and a writer on “Wild District,” again for Netflix, among others. Co directing with Argentina’s Ana Katz and Uruguay’s Pablo Stoll, Leiva Cock stands out as part of a new generation of Latin American showrunners, a figure that has taken some time to consolidate in the region.
This new production continues Movistar’s tradition of betting on and endorsing strong talents. As Joanna Lombardi, Movistar head of fiction, Latin America, says: “More than a year ago at Movistar we took a big step towards the production of fiction content in Latin America and we are very excited about the great results we have obtained. ‘Ruido Capital,’ our first Colombian series, has talent from different countries and reinforces our intention to strengthen the Latin American audiovisual industry.” Variety talked with Leiva in the build-up to the premiere of the show at Berlinale Series Market on Monday Feb. 24.
Could you comment on the writing process of a six-episode series and how you’ve structured its plot threads?
We were telling the story of a boy who does not belong, his life takes a dramatic turn and he enters a new school. Where although he feels he does not belong, he feels recognized in the group of those who do not belong. And we wrote the band as the central point of the series, music or art as catharsis against the perhaps violent situations that these young people were living. To me in terms of format and length six episodes of 30’ was great. Even if we follow the scheme of coming of age narrative, and we were inspired by some British and North American coming-of-age series like “Inbetweeners.” we tried to avoid the predictable beats that people would expect and in a Colombian way give it our own twist. With a more softened melodrama, of punk teenagers.
The intro to the series gives a brief portrait of Bogota in the ‘90s, and without a doubt the historical context surrounding these teenagers plays an important role in the story….
This is a story I wanted to tell for several years. I grew up in Bogotá at that time, very close to the age to these boys. The subject of memory has always been very important to me. I remember the attack on the Mall of 93rd Street struck me a lot. My mother had her office very close and I saw the news being very small and that news like I was marked. Somehow the serious talk of how one in that adolescence perceived those acts of violence that were so close and at the same time so alien. During the writing process, each episode includes a historical moment from our adolescence in Colombia at that time, from 1992 to 1995 or thereabouts and we tried to capture those moments that most impacted us, even if it was a 5-0 win against Argentina that was a moment of national happiness though a medicine that did not cure what was happening in the country. It is not a series about violence but how it affects young people who were growing up at that time.
In the sound design the series seems to maintain television codes but at the same time there is a drum and a trumpet that enter chaotically and give another tone to the series. Where did this idea come from?
This was something we talked a lot with Pablo and Ana. From the beginning I wanted the sound of the series to represent each of the characters. The drummer being Gabo, the trumpet Sebas, Vale the guitar, Porra with all that he plays. And that the music will change scene by scene depending on who is leading the scene. Then when Simon enters the new school, an improvisation is heard, half jazz, half rocker, as he explores himself. It is the first time that he knows what his friends and his band will be, but at first he doesn’t succeed. So what we did was compose a final song and after built it into noises and sounds. Almost all the music is interwoven and the sound is interwoven for that final song. A deconstruction of that final song and what they are experiencing until they reach that first song they compose together. We try to generate a narrative that joins in music and sound.
How has been your experience with Movistar?
I feel we have been lucky. I have worked with Netflix, with Amazon and now with Apple and the relationships have been very positive. I think that Movistar took a lot of risks with “Ruido Capital” because it has a very independent feel. The relationship was very fluid, they came on board very early. I had the idea and the characters outlined There was an interest from the beginning to bring an international perspective to the series, not to make it just a Colombian narrative, which obviously is in part: I am very close to the material, it is a little inspired by the adolescence of my brother’s friends, of mine, very much of my circle and I wanted someone to look at it without the prejudices that we as Colombians carry regarding our own history. The presence of Pablo and Ana was very very positive.