Cannes Marché: New projects surface for Submarine

Cannes Marché: New projects surface for Submarine

Submarine’s Femke Wolting

Dynamic Dutch production outfit and its LA offshoot SubLA have revealed details of their latest ventures.


Together with Christoph Jörg, the founder of Pumpernickel Films. Submarine is preparing a new doc series, Exponential: How the Digital Economy Ate the World and How We Can Take It Back.


This will be written and hosted by Douglas Rushkoff, one of the internet era’s most prolific authors and named by MIT as one of the world’s ten most influential thinkers. The director is Liz Merman. The aim is to shoot in the autumn.


Exponential tells the story of how a dream for a globally connected culture transformed into a nightmare of surveillance, extraction and control. It’s the story of Silicon Valley’s embrace of exponential growth, and how its success could mean the failure of human civilisation itself. It is also the story of how the ideals of the early internet days were compromised and undermined by greed and myopic thinking.


Last year, Submarine won an Emmy for its Hans Pool documentary Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World. Now, the company is planning a dramatic spin-off from that documentary in the shape of The Kollective. This is a scripted series about citizen journalists similar to the ones whose story is told in Bellingcat.


Leonardo Fasoli, the show runner for Italian crime drama series Gomorrah for Sky Atlantic, as well as the show-runner for the critically acclaimed drama series  ZeroZeroZero for Sky Atlantic, Canal+, and Amazon, is attached to the project.


Maddalena Ravagli, one of the writers of, is also involved and the producer will be Tony Krantz.


The drama follows a team of citizen journalists who investigate the disappearance of one of their group in Cairo. Known as The Kollective, they use cutting edge investigation techniques and remarkable courage to fight against the tide of fake news, corruption, and the secret services aiming to destabilise Europe.


Some of Submarine’s docs have had to be put on hold during the Covid-19 crisis. For example, true crime series The Singh Case, shooting in Los Angeles and San Francisco, has been put on hold for now.


However, the company is pushing ahead with 4 x 52 minute XTC, A Biography. Based on Based on the book written by Wietse Pottjewijd and Philippus Zandstra, this is the story of the rise of the ecstasy industry in the Netherlands and how that coincided with the rise of electronic music. The Netherlands produces synthetic drugs worth almost 20 billion euros in street value yearly. For comparison, the Rotterdam port company contributed approximately 23 billion to the Dutch economy and Air France-KLM approximately 24 billion. 


“It (the project) has definite international potential. It could be with a broadcaster or a net streamer. The Netherlands is now responsible for 90% of the export of the world industry of ecstasy. It is one of the biggest export products of the Netherlands currently,” Submarine’s Femke Wolting told Business Doc Europe. A director is expected to be signed shortly. The company is also planning a drama series based on the same subject.


On the drama front, Submarine is also developing a new scripted series called Echo Boy, adapted from Matt Haig’s best-selling novel of the same name.


Other feature documentaries on Submarine’s current slate include The Art Of Stealing, directed by Jorien van Nes and about four young Romanian friends who plan a spectacular and outrageous robbery at the Kunsthal art museum in Rotterdam, This was presented at last November’s IDFA Forum. Submarine is also working on A Band With A Boat, a doc about a group of twenty-somethings who build a boat in which to sail to the Northern Lights. The boat vanished – and so did its crew. This will be partly archive-based and will partly use reconstruction. Submarine is working on the project with the VPRO.