‘Élite’ Creator Carlos Montero on His New Netflix Series ‘Breathless’

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Netflix and ‘Elite’ creator Carlos Montero have teamed up again on new medical drama ‘Breathless’ Variety has been given exclusive access to new first footage from the show.

“Breathless” is produced by Montero’s El Desorden Crea and executive produced by Montero and Diego Betancor. David Pinillos and Marta Font shared directing duties and worked on screenplays by Montero, Carlos Ruano, Guillermo Escribano and Pablo Saiz.

In addition to today’s photos, Netflix has released a new synopsis for the show: “The Joaquín Sorolla is much more than a public hospital in Valencia where lives are saved every day. Doctors and residents work their fingers to the bone in the frantic pace of the emergency room, where tensions, emotions and even desires race the hearts of a staff increasingly living on the edge. The arrival of a high-profile patient highlights the complicated situation of the public health system, lighting the fuse for what will be an unprecedented and drastic strike.”

Carla Oset/Netflix

Carla Oset/Netflix

Montero may be best known for creating Netflix’s worldwide hit YA series “Elite,” but his young adult drama credentials go back much further than that. He is also the creator of “Física o Química,” an iconic high school series that 15 years ago launched the careers of Spanish stars such as Úrsula Corberó, the leader of “Money Heist,” and the co-creator of “Veneno” and ‘La Mesias’. Javier Calvo.

Since the global success of “Elite,” Montero has shifted his focus to older audiences with other Netflix Originals, including “The Mess You Leave Behind” and “In Love All Over Again.”

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“I’m 51 now and I’m forcing myself to try other types of series,” he said Variety in a conversation. “I have always loved hospital dramas and felt this was the right time to work on them.”

Although Montero had long admired the medical drama, his socially conscious spin on it emerged when he began to think about the impact a work stoppage could have in healthcare and its consequences when considered alongside the Hippocratic Oath.

“The original idea for this show came from that paradox, that dilemma, that in order to save the health care system as a whole, you may have to abandon the patients,” he said. “It’s obviously a very extreme premise, but I think there’s a very rich opportunity for storytelling.”

Although Spain has a strong tradition of producing medical series for local audiences, the available budgets often meant that cuts had to be made on the visual front. The series of the past focused much more on dialogue and drama than on operating rooms and ambulance rides.

“Our directors have put a lot of effort into giving the show a very modern identity,” he explained. “I think there was unfinished business in Spain in terms of hospital series, and while there were some very good ones, we never had the budget to make them look like the very best American or European shows.”

Carla Oset/Netflix

Carla Oset/Netflix

Because ‘Breathless’ has the financial might of Netflix behind it, there’s a lot more action and visual danger than is standard in a Spanish medical drama. Some scenes are so intense that they sometimes have an almost thriller or genre atmosphere.

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“In the big-budget American medical series, they show more of that kind of stuff,” Montero explains. “It almost has a horror feel to it because it creates a very visceral reaction. Originally there was more and more in each episode, but we realized we wanted to limit it to just the essential moments because otherwise it could be too much.

Another benefit of working with Netflix is ​​that the streamer has an extensive roster of local Spanish talent who have become regulars in their productions. ‘Breathless’ features a who’s who of popular Spanish actors, including multiple Goya Award nominee Najwa Nimri (‘Money Heist’, ‘Open Your Eyes’), Aitana Sánchez Gijón (‘Parallel Mothers’, ‘The Machinist’), Blanca Suárez (“The Bar”, “Cable Girls”), Manu Ríos (“Élite”), Borja Luna (“Untamable”), Ana Rayo (“Mercado Central”) and Alfonso Bassave (“Estoy vivo”).

We’ve only seen the first episode, but Nimri’s nuanced performance is predictably striking. According to Montero, she was the only character he created with a specific actor in mind.

Carla Oset/Netflix

Carla Oset/Netflix

“Najwa was the only name I had in mind from the beginning,” he said. ‘I knew she would be perfect for that role. We even waited for her to complete another job because we knew it would be worth it if we could get her.”

“Breathless” doesn’t have a specific release date yet, but there’s very little work left to do on the show and we expect it to be streaming on Netflix soon.

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