Exclusive: FilmNation TV UK hires BBC Studios veteran as COO

Martin Rakusen. Pic courtesy of FilmNation TV UK

FilmNation TV UK has hired BBC Studios (BBCS) exec Martin Rakusen as its new COO, TBI has learned.

Rakusen will join creative director Kirstie Macdonald’s team and lead all business, operational and financial activity, working on deal structures and funding plans.

He will also oversee distribution strategy and be tasked with expanding partnerships for the production company, which was set up in 2019 as a joint venture between FilmNation Entertainment and Viaplay Group.

He will also work closely with Macdonald – who joined the scripted-focused company from Expectation in 2020 – on the funding and go-to-market plans for its shows.

Rakusen had been with the commercial arm of the BBC for more than a decade, most recently as commercial director for scripted at BBCS Productions, where he led the strategic and commercial activity of their drama and comedy production teams. He had originally joined BBCS forerunner BBC Worldwide in 2012 as commercial director of its scripted output, working to help grow BBCS-backed production companies.

Prior to that, Rakusen had been COO of Shine International and director of commercial development for drama, kids and branded content at RDF, having started his career at the BBC.

Milan Popelka, COO of parent-company FilmNation Entertainment, told TBI: “We’ve long admired and respected Martin’s deep professional expertise, his strategic savvy, and the breadth of his relationships, and are thrilled to welcome him into the FilmNation family.”

Popelka added that the appointment came as FilmNation UK looks to ”scale” the business and ”accelerate our expansive slate of bold and compelling series,” while Macdonald added that Rakusen would be key to the company’s growth strategy.

The former BBCS exec added: “FilmNation has built a fantastic reputation for the consistently high quality and distinctiveness of their creative output across film, TV, podcasts and theatre.

”I couldn’t be more delighted to be working with Kirstie, [CEO] Glen [Basner] and Milan to grow the UK business at such an exciting time and to also have the opportunity to work with the exceptional talent across the FilmNation group.”

FilmNation TV UK has several projects in the works, having acquired rights to Kenya Hunt’s novel Girl last year. The company struck its first scripted development deal a year earlier, securing the services of British director, screenwriter and broadcaster Reggie Yates.

Parent company FilmNation, meanwhile, has been behind movies such as Promising Young Woman, The Imitation Game and Greyhound, while its first television project, I Know This Much is True, was produced for HBO and starred Mark Ruffalo.

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