The guests of FEST's new programme FEST Pro were the creators of the Israeli series ‘Fauda’, which has been shown on Netflix for four seasons already and has won the hearts of viewers around the world through this platform. Producer Liat Benasuly, who has been with the creators Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff since the first season, talks about this unique series, plans for the continuation of the story, and the political background of the plot for the FEST website. At the panel of FEST's programme intended for film professionals, she said that ‘Fauda’ had started with a more modest budget of around 250 thousand dollars per episode, eventually reaching the sum that enabled the success of the series today. The question arises as to what is more expensive, a big film or a serious series.
'Yes, at first glance it seems to viewers that the current series are more expensive, but it is a matter of different industries. Films have another way to make money. There is even income from success in the cinema through ticket sales. Series have more than one season if they become successful, but if they do not reach a certain viewership, there is no second season. It is a risky business. But the difference is also huge when it comes to preparation and shooting and post production. I am attracted to the genre of television drama series because many things happen to the characters during the season, while the film is limited to 90 minutes, our characters evolve in a way’, says the producer.
You announced the fifth season. Where did you get the inspiration for new events?
- We always struggle with the main line of development of the series, there are plenty of cases and situations that are being solved, because a lot of things happen, people are constantly getting hurt, there are many stories. But the most important thing is the development of the characters during the season, what happens to them and how their lives will take shape before and after what happens in the field while they are in the unit and how it affects them. From season to season, we went deeper and deeper developing those characters that the audience got to love. You saw in one season that Yaacov, who plays Eli, falls in love with the wife of a fallen colleague. Basically, if we have an idea how to develop the characters, we will shoot a new season. If we stop, we will not ruin ‘Fauda’ and that is the eternal struggle for quality.
You promise not to ruin the series with a season more the way some American series that we loved have been ruined?
Of course. That is why we first believed that there would not be another season when we shot the fourth and announced that, but after deep reflection we realized that the characters of ‘Fauda’ had something to say. We will not shoot a weaker season just for the sake of money or similar low motives.
You talk about a conflict that has been going on for decades in a way that no one before you has dared?
- The conflict will not end. On one side there are us Jews, Israelis, on the other side are the Arabs. We are here and we have nowhere to go, they are here, they will not leave. Over the years, both governments have made mistakes, and I think the politicians have made the most mistakes, not the people - people need peace. I see it all the time and I have talked to a lot of Arabs. We believe that we live in a democracy, but we do not decide anything, and it is easier for politicians to rule over a frightened people. That manipulation of fear is something that will be difficult to change. On the other hand, people find ways to overcome differences every day, both culturally and in other ways, which can be seen in ‘Fauda’. But conflict is, unfortunately, a constant state.
Critics say that the secret of the success of ‘Fauda’ lies precisely in the realistic and two-sided depiction of the conflict?
- I think that too. That is why we decided to be realistic and to show both sides. To show that these are just people who often make wrong decisions. The series clearly shows how everyone suffers because of the conflict and how much bloodshed it causes, many people die, our soldiers. Young people sent by the state to fight. Nobody likes conflicts and that is what we are actually trying to say. I think the series is watched all over the world precisely because the viewers see that we are people who want the same things, but use different ways, methods. Nationalities, at least for me, are just labels. That is why I love producing this series, it allows me to travel, meet new people, make friends wherever I go. People laugh at the same things but also cry at the same things and they do not mind that they were raised differently. The barriers created by politicians are our problem. Nationalities, flags, patriotism are labels that separate us.
Did you have any political pressure to shoot ‘Fauda’ in a certain way?
- No, never. In Israel, politics and culture are separated. You can do whatever you want and the politicians do not interfere. But they like to come to the set and take pictures with the actors and thus show how popular and current they are.