Two Words with Peppe Fiore - Head Writer of Sky drama series Il Re/The King

Two Words with Peppe Fiore - Head Writer of Sky drama series Il Re/The King
Peppe Fiore is a writer and a TV author. He wrote several books : L’attesa di un figlio nella vita di un giovane padre, oggi (Coniglio, 2005), Cagnanza e padronanza (Gaffi, 2008) e i romanzi La futura classe dirigente (minimum fax, 2009), Nessuno è indispensabile (Einaudi, 2012) e Dimenticare (Einaudi, 2017). As story editor and writer he worked for many series: Non Uccidere, The Young Pope, Mare Fuori. With the director Francesco Lettieri, he wrote the feature film Ultras (Netflix) and Lovely Boy (Sky).
He is the head writer of the prison drama series Il Re (Sky).

1) How did the idea of the story come up? Tell us more about the script and the story.
Luca himself came up with the idea. He was very much into doing a prison drama, and he really wanted to play a different character after Montalbano, something more shady, more controversial. So five years ago he approached Lorenzo Mieli with this concept, which was very vague indeed (basically it was "prison drama plus Luca doing the bad guy"), and I was hired as the head writer to develop it. Sky was onboard from the beginning. That was suppoused to be the first prison drama in Italy, so with the other writers (Bernardo Pellegrini, Davide Serino and Stefano Bises as the editorial supervisor) we tried to choose the most contemporary issues as possible to feed the storylines. Violence, drug trafficking, and of course clash of cultures and muslim radicalization are daily themes in our jails, so we tried to build the story around them.

2) How did you were inspired? Any references, writers, tv series, movies?

IL RE is pretty much different from the typical prison drama (OZ, Orange is the new black, Capadocia, Wentworth etc.). The prison drama is traditionally a multistrand: many storylines for many inmates. In our case we had Luca, and the whole thing had obvisoulsy to be tailored on him. As we always hope to do more sesaons (not a limited series like, say, Escape at Dannemora) it was pretty logic to have him as the director of the jail. Then the difficult thing was to put him in danger, i.e. to build a strong antagonism against him. A jail director is literally the king of the place, so we had to create a counter-power menacing him from the inside of the realm. This element, combined with the idea of the bad guy, led us to the idea of Bruno Testori as a evil king, who manages his jail using corruption, violence, and illegality, following his personal idea of justice - all things thant make him very powerful but also very vulnerable. This is why more than Oz, we where inspired by The Shield, there's a lot of Vic Mackey in Bruno Testori I think. Then the jail is like a big theatre, we had from the beginning this idea of the "panopticon", meaning an arena from where Bruno can see everything. And even if all the action happens there, thing thant Bruno can't control pop up, so his paranoia constantly grows up, and that's why there's definitely something King Learesque in him also.

3) Do you see any trends in the drama series? What are the most popular genres for you?
I really don't know if you can still speak about genres like we used to speak 5 years ago to clearly identify commissioning editors' needs. My impression is that tv market has grown so huge that literally everything can be a tv show at one point. Literally you just need a I.P. - a book, a movie, a true story - to make a show.
Said that, from Europe I'm seeing that OTT tend to compete directly with FTA channels, Netflix in Italy wants RAI's audience - but this was predictable of course as everybody has a smart tv and subscrition fees are shrinking. So the one of us among writers who hoped to do edgy stuff on OTT's will be a little disappointed I guess.
I also see, like everybody in our industry, that IT storytelling is now warmly welcomed internationally, which is great for us because it means bigger production values for new shows and the possibility to work with international talents. So maybe we can't do our crazy show on Netflix IT but we can do international coproductions which is also nice.
And, more generally, I see that new shows tend to be in six episodes - not 8 anymore - which is a huge relief, as every show of 8 constantly tends to be weaker in ep05 / ep06 area.

photo courtesy / Giulia Natalia Comito