HBO Max’s first national series, Os Absentes debuts on the platform on July 22 with a large-scale production. Rejected by Globo in 2015, the series had an experienced writer for Law & Order (1990-2010) as a consultant and used around a thousand extras and more than 100 actors during the recordings.
American Barry Schkolnick was hired by authors Thiago Luciano and Maria Carmem Barbosa to help develop the procedural structure — the famous case of the week — and find a balance between the plot of the protagonists and the stories told in each episode. In addition to Law & Order, the consultant also has his resume on the drama The Good Wife (2009-2016).
According to Luciano, Schkolnick’s help was essential in finding the ideal format for Os Ausentes. At a press conference in which the TV news participated, the author explained that making procedural series is more complicated than people imagine.
“Barry has the procedural hand. It’s very difficult to do, and he was very important. He helped us advance the story of the main characters while making room for the plots told in each episode. He helped us a lot.” , said Luciano, who signs the scripts together with Bruno Passeri and Renê Belmonte.
The creation of a TV series often goes through many hands. The story development process is discussed by various writers led by the creator or showrunner. For the author, this is one of his favorite parts when creating a project.
“Screenwriters room is a delight. We discussed some scripts in the classroom, and then Renê [Belmonte] brought his text for us to discuss again. It’s great to see from the outside. When we write or direct it is difficult, we are immersed. Barry helped us with that too.
The large scale of the attraction suggests how confident HBO Max was in the project. After Globo’s refusal, the series was rescued by TNT, which cast Maria Flor and Erom Cordeiro in the main roles. Shooting began in 2019, and more than 100 actors participated in the ten episodes of the first season.
The city chosen to “host” the plot of Os Ausentes was São Paulo, described by Maria Flor as one of the main characters in the series. More than 100 locations were used for the recordings, which together resulted in about 800 hours on set.
“It shows the beauty and affection that we dedicate to the series. It’s an encouragement, a production that seeks to deliver hope to viewers,” explained Silvia Fu, executive producer at WarnerMedia.
Who are the absentees?
The plot tells the story of former police chief Raul Fagnani (Cordeiro), who decided to open an agency to investigate missing persons after the disappearance of Sofia, his five-year-old daughter. Ausentes turns the underworld of the city of São Paulo — Raul, deep down, is hoping to find clues about Sofia there. Maria Flor plays Maria Júlia, a journalist with a dark past that crosses the protagonist’s path.
Like other rivals in the streaming war, HBO Max will release the full season of Os Absentees on the 29th. According to Silvia, the strategy aims to reach all types of audiences.
“We used a lot of data in our releases and found that people shy away from very long series. Sometimes they don’t have time to watch, so we thought of a procedural format. We believe it. it is possible to make this consumption per episode and see one at a time,” he concluded.
Watch the trailer for The Absentees: