ndF: neue deutsche Filmgesellschaft mbH
[Translate to English:] © ZDF/Julian R. Wagner / Leif Haenzo

#TheSwarmIsComing: International ZDF co-production goes into production

The eight-part thriller series "The Swarm" has begun production in Italy.

Here the shooting announcement of ZDF - June 16th, 2021

Based on Frank Schätzing's international bestseller of the same name, the series is being produced as an international co-production under the leadership of ZDF as part of the European Alliance together with France Télévisions, Rai, ORF, SRF, Scandinavia's Nordic Entertainment Group and Hulu Japan. The series has the support of Creative Europe, the media program of the European Union and is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of the German Motion Picture Fund (GMPF).

Dr. Norbert Himmler, Chief Creative Officer (CCO) at ZDF: "More than 15 years after the publication of 'The Swarm' the ecological crisis is still one of the most pressing global challenges. Therefore, it is especially important for us to adapt  this highly relevant topic for the screen as a major German-led international project. For the European Alliance between France Télévisions, Rai and ZDF, this high-end series is by far the largest co-production to date, uniting talent as well as expertise across national borders. Like the book, the series will hopefully entertain people around the world while also teaching all of us about our responsibilities."

Frank Zervos, co-producer for "The Swarm" at ZDF: "After three years of intense preparation and a year of delay due to the Covid crisis, the film adaptation of 'The Swarm' is finally getting off the ground. The series will be state-of-the-art: emotional, close to the present, diverse, as well as scientifically and technologically up to date. In doing so, we want to create a feeling that the story is happening here and now, not in some future. That's what creates the special 'thrill'. We are very pleased to have gathered a great team for this: in addition to author Frank Schätzing and showrunner Frank Doelger, Barbara Eder, Luke Watson and Philipp Stölzl as directors."

The series "The Swarm" chronicles the struggle of humankind against an unknown swarm intelligence that lives in the depths of the sea. When the reckless treatment of the oceans threatens the natural habitat of this mysterious collective, it strikes back quickly, all human life is at stake - and the fate of the entire world population rests in the hands of a small group of scientists.

Frank Schätzing, author of the novel and Executive Producer: "It was important to me that we don‘t simply adapt 'The Swarm' for the screen, but rather modernize it. An interpretation for the days to come that puts the lives, fears and hopes of younger generations center stage. That’s what Frank Doelger and I have worked on as a team, with great support from the ZDF, which initiated the project. Without their great dedication, our project would not exist. The scripts are written, now actors, directors, DOPs and visual effects artists are taking over. And I will likely sneak onto set, to maybe play a fish."

Showrunner Frank Doelger ("Game of Thrones"), the creative director of Intaglio Films, and Frank Schätzing have jointly adapted the novel into a series. The scripts are written by Steven Lally ("Strike Back"), Marissa Lestrade ("Deep State") as well as Chris Lunt and Michael A. Walker ("Young Wallander"). The series’ scientific advisors are polar and deep-sea researcher Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany and Dr. Jon Copley, Associate Professor of Ocean Exploration at the University of Southampton, United Kingdom.

Frank Doelger: "Adapting 'The Swarm' for television provided several creative challenges, one of the most exciting of which was to reimagine the characters to reflect the increasing diversity of the scientific community. This allowed us to put together a cast which I believe would have been unimaginable in 2004 when the novel was written."

The top-class international cast is lead by Leonie Benesch ("Babylon Berlin", "The Crown"), Cécile de France ("The New Pope"), Alexander Karim ("The Lawyer"), and Joshua Odjick ("Unsettled"), as well as Barbara Sukowa ("Hannah Arendt"), Krista Kosonen ("Blade Runner 2049"), Rosabell Laurenti Sellers ("Game of Thrones"), Takuya Kimura ("2046"), Eidin Jalali ("Para – We are King"), Takehiro Hiera ("Giri/Haji"), Dutch Johnson ("Veep", "Navy CIS: LA") and Sharon Duncan-Brewster ("Star Wars: Rogue One").

The series is directed by Barbara Eder ("Barbarians", "Thank You For Bombing"), Philipp Stölzl ("The Royal Game", "I’ve never been to New York") and Luke Watson ("Britannia", "Ripper Street"). David Luther and Dominik Berg are in charge of the camera, production designer is Julian Wagner, and Dascha Dauenhauer is responsible for the music.

Eric Welbers, Executive Producer of the series for ndF: International Production: “The variety of settings we are able to depict in Italy is incredible: from Canada to Peru to Norway and more. We are pleased that, among other things, this will allow us to contribute to a green production, which lies very close to our hearts and will additionally enrich the series in the end. It helps that much more is possible in post-production these days. In our case it will be an exciting marathon with many elaborate visual effects to stage for animals on land and in the water, the natural catastrophes and 'the swarm' itself."

Frank Zervos, Burkhard Althoff and Alexandra Staib are the responsible editors at ZDF. "The Swarm" is produced by Intaglio Films GmbH (Executive Producer: Frank Doelger, Producer: Friedemann Goez) and ndF: International Production GmbH (Executive Producer: Eric Welbers, Producer: Charlotte Groth) through the joint venture Schwarm TV Productions GmbH & Co KG for ZDF, France Télévisions, Rai, ORF, SRF, Scandinavia’s Nordic Entertainment Group and Hulu Japan coproduced with Bravado and in association with Viola Film. Executive producers are Frank Schätzing, Ute Leonhardt ("Eat Pray Love"), Mark Huffam ("The Martian") and Till Grönemeyer. ZDF Enterprises and Beta Film are responsible for international distribution. Filming will take place mainly in Italy and in water studios in Belgium and is expected to last until the end of September 2021.

The ZDF main editorial department History and Science under the supervision of Prof. Peter Arens will produce two accompanying documentaries, which will take viewers on a fascinating adventure beneath the surface of the water. Impressive phenomena, elaborate behavior patterns, endangered habitats - the two shows scientifically relate the subjects of the fictional series and provide the opportunity to explore the marine ecosystem together with researchers. The accompanying scientific program is to be completed by a broad online offering – in the ZDF media library and on the "Terra X" social media channels.