María Elena Wood, producer of Turner’s “Mary & Mike,” Joyn’s “Dignity” and now “News of a Kidnapping” for Amazon Studios, is re-launching her own production house, María Wood Producciones.
Shaping up already as a key Latin American production partner for top high-end fiction producers in Europe and the U.S., Maria Wood Producciones will focus, as in past series produced by Wood, on premium scripted drama of substance, with a social or political underbelly and frequent recourse to creative film talent.
“It’s what we’ve always done and know how to do,” Wood told Variety in the run-up to Mipcom. In contrast to the past, however, she said that “rather than talk about villains, despicable people,” Maria Wood Producciones will “cherry pick more luminous, happier content which talks about how we are today.”
First up on Maria Wood Producciones’ slate is “Mujeres Grandes” (Big Women), an original half-hour dramedy created and written by Chile’s Barbara Zemelman, writer of hit Chilean series “Soltera Otra Vez.” Argentine writer-director Natalia Smirnoff, whose films have competed at Berlin (“Puzzle”) and Sundance (“Lock Charmer”), is on board to direct.
In development, “Mujeres Grandes” turns on Alicia, an actor, now 56, who, after a bad experience at a casting session and illness from plastic surgery, flees to the South of Chile to the house of her aunt, who’s just died.
There she’s joined by three of her best friend: Gabriela, 58, whose work as a university lecturer is called into question; cosmetician Julia, 57, who discovers her husband of nearly 30 years is gay; and Isabel, 55, a bank employee passed over for promotion.
All decide to stay with Alicia and reconstruct their lives, recognizing their errors in the past and enjoying a women’s true liberty which begins at 50, Wood argues, “when their sexuality, time and bodies are finally free.”
“The series centers on a generation of women which hardly exists in fiction, between 40 and 60,” Wood said. “We go from ‘Sex in the City’ to ‘The Golden Girls’ and these women are invisible, when it’s the most free time we have as women,” she added.
A series which turns on “affective bonds, the relations that finally remain in life,” Wood said, “Mujeres Grandes” will shoot on location at Chile’s Pucón, a lakeside village of extraordinary beauty, surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes.
Maria Elena Wood and Patricio Pereira, producer of “Mary & Mike” and “Dignity,” as well as the movies directed by Maria Elena Wood’s brother Andrés Wood from 2004’s “Machuca” to last year’s “Spider” (“Araña”), will both serve as executive producers on “Mujeres Grandes.”
Also on Wood’s first slate, Maria Wood Producciones is in development on a feature film, “Un verano perfecto,” written by Zemelman and a romantic comedy inspired by unforgettable summers of youth and romance, said Wood. It is produced with The Mediapro Studio.
The film turns on “the imperfection of love,” Wood added: “The expectations we all have about love and how life and circumstances move us, showing how wrong we were.”
Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón, screenwriter of Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Violeta Went to Heaven” and Pablo Larrain’s Golden Globe-nominated “El Club” and “Neruda,” will serve as director of development on the series “Patagonic Winds” (“Vientos Patagónicos”), a noir-ish thriller set in Southern Chile.
Wood directed documentaries “Michelle Bachelet, La hija del general” (2006) and “Locas mujeres” (2011) out of Maria Wood Producciones before producing 2017’s “Ramona” with Wood Producciones and 2018’s “Mary & Mike,” 2019’s “Dignity” and “News of a Kidnapping,” in pre-production, out of Invercine & Wood.