Oben Budak talked to Timur Savcı and Burak Sağyaşar, executives of Tims&B Productions, about everything from Deception to Another Love – Bambaşka Biri, from Magnificient Century to their predictions for the future of Turkish TV series.
Tims&B Productions is one of the biggest and most prominent production companies in Türkiye. The most acclaimed series in the history of Turkish television and one of the most watched series in the world is produced by one of its founders. We sat down with Timur Savcı and Burak Sağyaşar, who will be launching Another Love, the season’s biggest hit at MIPCOM, and talked about everything from Deception (Aldatmak) to Another Love – Bambaşka Biri, from Magnificent Century (Muhteşem Yüzyıl) to their predictions for the future of Turkish TV series.
Tims&B Productions, one of the most important production companies in Türkiye, produces creative and original works, from historical dramas to action thrillers, from family dramas to period pieces. How do you decide on projects?
Timur Savcı: As a company, we are always trying to create vivid content in terms of our main strategy. In fact, this is our main motto: to create innovative, pure and vivid content. So, we prefer to create content in different genres such as action, comedy, historical drama, thriller and even horror, rather than repeating ourselves.
DECISIONS COME AT THE STORY STAGE
We make our decisions at the story stage. If we like the story and the concept, we devote ourselves entirely to developing it. During this development process, if we have developed it enough to see that we can realize the potential we felt earlier, and if the story is open to it, then we move on to the final step, which is to start preparing for packaging and production
Burak Sağyaşar: We are a company with a wide range of content. 100% of the work we have decided to do so far is original content. When we like the main premise of a project, it is enough for us to decide to do it. If it starts to come to life in our minds and we get excited about it, we move on to the preparation phase.
ANOTHER LOVE: EXCITING AND POPULAR PROJECT
Another Love is the most exciting and popular project of the season. The show’s leading stars, Burak Deniz and Hande Erçel, have garnered a devoted following not only in Türkiye but also across the globe. So, how did the inception of Another Love take place?
Savcı: The code name of Another Love at its inception was D.K.B., which stands for Dissociative Personality Disorder in Turkish. When the first draft of the story was presented to us, it seemed like a very interesting but at the same time challenging project to produce for Turkish television, because the concept is really difficult to realize.
This is a serious psychological disorder, yet a very common one even though it is not widely acknowledged publicly. In fact, most of the cases remain undiagnosed, so the story resonates within us. The story is not only interesting and striking but also a daring one. We liked this very much. Just the idea of falling in love with two different men that exist in the same body is a very eligible concept to be turned into a cinematic screenplay.
THE SCRIPT REDRAFTED SO MANY TIMES
Then, the Tims&B creative team and our beloved writer Ethem Özışık worked diligently for a very long time on a script that works. The script was drafted and redrafted so many times. When we were convinced that this was the best version, we rolled up our sleeves and got down to business.
Sağyaşar: The origin story of Another Love was created by Tims&B Drama. It was called D.K.B. at the time. We were very tempted to tell for the first time in Türkiye, the story of a main character with dissociative identity disorder. And when Ethem Özışık, whom we have been working with for years, penned the script, it surpassed its dimensions and we all got very excited about a strong prosecutor woman falling in love with two different men in the same body.
I had previously made a series with Burak Deniz and Hande Erçel called Aşk Laftan Anlamaz (international title: Hayat), which turned out to be a hit. We were not partners with Timur Savcı at that time. Now, years later, they came together again and a completely different chemistry emerged.
HOW TO DESCRIBE ANOTHER LOVE
Another Love has an interesting subject. It is a series that also leans on detective themes and brings up Dissociative Identity Disorder. But while doing all this, it also devotes ample space to family drama and, of course, love. How would you describe Another Love?
Savcı: Another Love is the story of a young woman who falls in love with two men of the same body… They both have very serious professions and within their grandiose lives where they need to be principled, they have to deal with this conflict in their love as well as their professions.
Sağyaşar: Another Love is a bold, very striking and fiery love drama. It is a story of the hunter and the prey. There is some- thing that makes it stand out from the crime dramas that have been told so far. Our strong female character doesn’t know that the killer she is after is actually the alter personality of the man she is in love with. That’s a remarkable thing.
It has a very prolific structure. We can describe it in one sentence as a two-person love triangle. And this has been very attractive for the audience.
THE SECRET BEHIND THE RATINGS SUCCESS
The second season of your series Deception has started airing in Türkiye. What do you think is the secret behind the ratings success since season one?
Savcı: Deception is the story of a mother trying to keep her family together. Our content is candid and genuine especially for viewers who already follow Turkish dramas and Turkish culture. I think that’s the secret of Deception. It’s a real drama and stars Ms. Vahide Perçin, one of the internationally acclaimed actresses of Türkiye, thanks to our recent global hit series, Bitter Lands. Sağyaşar: Main character Güzide’s belief in justice and her efforts to stand up for her family as a strong mother on her own was especially appreciated by our female viewers.
The second reason is all about stability. With the same team, we made Bitter Lands, which lasted 141 episodes on the same network and broke records in ratings. The main issue here is that we have always focused on our core story that we want to tell. Thus, we have instilled a sense of trust in the audience.
How is Deception’s journey abroad going?
Savcı: The international journey of Deception is going very well because we have a relationship of trust with our potential buyers abroad regarding the works we produce, or rather they trust us. Because we try not to sell them works that wouldn’t grab audiences abroad.
Sağyaşar: It’s going quite well. As I mentioned before, it was met with great interest because the producers, the screen- writer, the director and the leading actress Vahide Perçin are all from our successful series Bitter Lands, which is also distributed by Inter Medya.
What do you think is the biggest contributor to the global success of Bitter Lands? The Greek adaptation became one of the most watched series in the country, and your series and its cast received awards in Italy. What would you like to say about your series taking Europe by storm?
Savcı: Bitter Lands is a very universal, and a true Mediterranean story. Sometimes people forget that Adana is Mediterranean too. It’s a true Mediterranean family story and I think it’s about a magnificent love. Add to that the authenticity, the art design and other visual elements, and you have a very special project.
Sağyaşar: I think the main reason why Bitter Lands has been so successful all over the world is that it tells the wonderful story of an impossible love. Our dear Ayfer Tunç has created such a powerful story that it has become a cult series that can be watched over and over again for years. When it went on air in 2018, it was the biggest production at that time. And of course, the directors, actors, costume, art and music departments all worked in complete harmony.
NEW PROJECTS ON STREAMING PLATFORMS
You have also made popular series such as Shahmaran, Hot Skull and Interrupted. You have worked with platforms such as Netflix and BluTV. What kind of feedback did you receive on these series? Do you have any new projects coming up on streaming platforms?
Savcı: I believe that we, as Tims&B, have created the most special and unique digital content so far. We really can’t give a single example similar to these works in Turkiye in terms of genre or narrative structure, so we feel good about our work. When we consider the data on digital platforms, our results are quite successful, and the reactions we receive from the audience are also great. We have new projects coming up. Right now, we have a show entitled The Encyclopedia of Istanbul, – a project by Selman Nacar. We are currently in the pre-production process for Netflix.
Sağyaşar: We also have a series produced for Disney+ called Ayten: The Woman Who Changed the World, which has not yet aired. Two Netflix projects ahead. We are collaborating with dear Selman Nacar to tell the story of two women exact opposites of each other. It is not possible to disclose details about our other project due to confidentiality, but we are working on a co-production with Netflix on the global side.
MC, IN THE METAVERSE
Magnificent Century recently went into metaverse via The Sandbox. We would like to hear about how this project was born, and how it will proceed?
Savcı: Basically, the Sandbox is one of the prominent names in the Metaverse realm, offering players and creators a platform to create 3D worlds and game experiences and to trade, and monetize their creations. After they entered Turkish market in June 2022, and announced their plans for a Turkishverse, they approached us. Turkishverse includes business partnerships in the fields of cinema, TV series and games. And when you look at the Turkish media industry, one of the biggest trademarks is Magnificent Century, so we wanted to see if we could do something together and bring this IP onto the web3 dimension. We are proud that this partnership makes Magnificent Century the very first Turkish series to enter The Sandbox metaverse second only to the global hit The Walking Dead.
Within the scope of this new cooperation between The Sandbox and Magnificent Century, the magical atmosphere of our show will be revived in metaverse, transforming its unforgettable characters into avatars. Highly interactive gamified metaverse experience featuring Magnificent Century will be available on The Sandbox for all series lovers around the world. NFT and avatar collections are planned to be circulated among the projects, and the team is currently working on creating these avatars as we speak. We had our global launch in Paris at the Sandbox offices on July 12th and hopefully by the last quarter of this year, the avatars will be ready for sale. We are excited with the possibility of introducing the Magnificent Century universe to the young adult demo and reconnecting with our global audience who have supported us for the past decade.
TIMS&B’S GOALS AND PROJECTS IN THE NEAR TERM
What are Tims&B’s goals and projects in Türkiye and the world for the near future?
Savcı: We highly value sustainability, because even though the media landscape might change, our duty to produce content remains. We are deeply passionate and interested in storytelling. We are fond of it, really. As long as humankind and this world exist, storytelling will go on; and so, will our business. And our passion will remain the same for our work…
Sağyaşar: In that vein, in addition to the digital platform projects mentioned above, we also have two series we are working on for linear television as well.
Turkish series now have audience in over 150 countries now. Magnificent Century, produced by you, has a great influence on this phenomenon. You have made great contributions on the rising of Turkish series around the globe. How did this journey begin and proceed from the perspective of Tims&B?
Savcı: There are two milestones to consider within that scope. I produced Magnificent Century under the helm of TIMS Productions prior to a partnership, but I believe it has made some significant contributions to the whole Turkish industry. Our show managed to introduce Turkish content to the globe and arouse interest in Turkish culture and Türkiye per se, achieving great success in many ways.
TURKISH TV SERIES ARE NATIONAL ASSETS
After Magnificent Century, we became partners with Mr. Burak Sağyaşar and established Tims&B Productions together. Surely, my accumulated knowhow and experiences over the years have contributed to our company, but Burak’s youthful, dynamic, enthusiastic and innovative ideas have strengthened this company even further. So, we continue on our path at full speed…
Sağyaşar: Turkish TV series are national assets that should definitely be protected. Their contribution to the Turkish economy is indisputable as Turkish TV series are one of the most important export items of this country, today. For this reason, Turkish content must be protected against any manipulation, embargo, and censorship.
For example, foreign capitals trying to disrupt the DNA of Turkish TV series with high budgets should not be bowed to, or the mentality “we will teach foreigners how to make TV series like Turkish TV series” should be abandoned immediately.
GLOBAL ASPIRATIONS OF TURKISH TV SERIES
What do you think should be the next global aspirations of Turkish TV series?
Savcı: I believe Turkish series must remain true to their essence, maintaining their authenticity. Since entering the Turkish market, the digital platforms have shaken things up a bit, but as for today, the perspective of digital platforms, their target audience and their consumption habits are quite different from what the audience of our authentic Turkish series expect from us.
In other words, even though technically we would be able to produce series in the caliber of American or British series, since we possess the knowhow to produce a world – class project working with, say, a British screenwriter, it would not be from or by “us.” Thus, I believe that we should produce sustainable, and big scale projects by maintaining our authenticity, while also making innovative contributions. In that vein, we are currently working on a project that we believe will make even more impact than Magnificent Century. I can only say that it has such a high budget that it is too much for a single broadcaster to handle on their own given the current status of the global market. Under these circumstances, it seems that it will take a while to come out, but we are very excited about it nonetheless.
Sağyaşar: We need to produce quality original content. Making a lot of TV series does not mean that it will bring a lot of success and export figures. We should strive to improve the quality and authenticity.