EXCLUSIVE: Criminal Minds showrunner Simon Mirren and his production partner Benjamin Anderson are currently in Mumbai working on a procedural drama series with Indian firms Applause Entertainment and Locomotive Global, Deadline can reveal.
Mirren — also known for series such as Spooks, Versailles and Without a Trace — and Anderson are involved in the precinct-based crime ‘pro-serial’ through their new company, Case Closed Entertainment.
Applause, which takes a feature film financing approach to streaming series, has greenlit the series working alongside Case Closed and Locomotive, which is based in Mumbai and California, and will look to sell it to an SVoD service once produced. The Aditya Birla Group-owned Applause was behind the Indian remake of Peter Moffat’s BBC drama Criminal Justice and several other Western scripted format adaptations such as The Office.
“The reason I had initially done remakes was for speed to market, allowing us to take a framework and reimagine it,” said Nair. “This opportunity takes that to the next level — we get to work with international creative partners in Simon and Ben and Sunder as a partner and to create an original series out of India with the best possible practices available.”
Locomotive founder Sunder Aaron, who is separately working with Applause on Gurinder Chadha’s series Seeker, said the market conditions were right for a procedural drama series to be developed. “In India, there are prestige drama productions, which are evolving, and there are telenovela serial dramas that go on and on, but there is a gap in the middle for a high quality procedural drama that is fit to be seen globally,” said Aaron.
“The world allows us to be courageous in storytelling and that’s what’s great about Ben and Simon coming here — they’re not imposing their story on the writers and production here but want to bring the best practice and help guide it so it’s globally accepted. Sameer has had the courage to take a wider view of the Indian market and bring in talent to collaborate and do something better.”
Mirren and Anderson are currently building an “intensive” writer’s room of local writers, who will use the U.S. procedural framework used on shows like Criminal Minds to create a long-running crime series. The ‘pro-serial’ term they are using refers to a procedural with serialised elements in the storylines.
Mirren and Anderson have been developing a system based on their experiences aimed at empowering creatives to oversee their own precinct-based procedurals, exploring the creative, visual and technical languages of the format and teaching best practice from other international shows.
“For 20 years I’ve been meeting writers around the world — in Germany, Australia, France — and teaching them how to make a procedural drama framework in five days,” said Mirren. “I expanded on that idea with Benjamin, taking his understanding of narrative and my experience as a showrunner, and we decided to take that out to emerging markets.”
“If we could provide them with that eco-system where they could learn their craft, that could be something special and it something we both know a lot about,” added Anderson.
After developing what the partners are calling the “creative eco-system,” Mirren and Anderson will work in an ongoing collaboration with the Indian team running the show to fully develop and produce it. The creative and production teams at Locomotive and Applause will also provide support.
Development on the first series is underway and Mirren and Anderson told Deadline they are in Mumbai meeting Indian judiciary, police experts and crime journalists and visiting production facilities to ensure “complete authenticity.” This will help them curate storylines that are driven by the local writers room, they said.
Mirren began his TV career working on British medical procedural Casualty and co-created long-running BBC spy drama Spooks before moving to the U.S. to work with Ed Bernero on NBC’s Third Watch. The pair then teamed on Jeff Davis-created CBS drama Criminal Minds, with Mirren going on to write and direct numerous episodes and eventually showrun several seasons. He most recently created French period drama Versailles, which was for Canal+.
Anderson, who produces television, feature films, and immersive entertainment has developed and set up several global and local language projects. He was most recently Executive Vice President of Development and Production at Phoenix Pictures. During that time he developed working relationships with China’s Shanghai Film Group and Japan’s Fuji TV. He also spearheaded a co-venture with AMC to build a global incubator program for emerging talent around the world. He also worked at National Lampoon as a creative executive and started in the business working for Quentin Tarantino’s company A Band Apart.
“The mission statement for Case Closed is to go to emerging territories and look to create these eco-systems for procedural drama to support, uplift and educate above and below the line,” said Anderson.
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