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Media & Entertainment 01.20.21 BLOG 

How to Streamline Local-Language Original Programming

Danielle Merrihew, Director of Business Development, Media + Entertainment

local language program

How to Streamline Local-Language Original Programming

In recent years, production and viewership of local-language original content has become increasingly popular in the entertainment space.

Netflix was the first media giant to invest heavily in locally sourced programming, and major players across the board quickly followed suit.

In an increasingly global world, we have seen a push away from the Americentric approach to content creation these past few years and replaced it with a growing focus on authentic international storytelling.

What is International Storytelling?

International storytelling through local-language original content gives local teams the creative agency to develop content with a unique perspective. The authentic capture of international stories allows audiences to experience the world through different eyes.

This relatively new phenomenon has churned out some truly incredibly content (“Money Heist,” and “How to Sell Drugs Online [Fast]” being two of my favorites).

However, it also presents unique challenges.

For example, studios and production companies whose creative executives sit in a central office face severe language barriers when trying to collaborate with local production teams.

Other challenges include development delays due to slow or poorly executed translations, loss of context during the development process (important local nuances can quite literally be lost in translation), and high costs of communication.

Initiating Centralized Translation Programs

Centralized translation programs are an integral part of the development process for local-language original productions. Establishing a centralized translation program with a single provider helps streamline communication, standardize processes, and accelerate timelines. It also allows for customizable workflows specifically adapted to each step of the development process.

Each company’s requirements and processes will be slightly different, but the basic elements of a translation program for an originals team typically look something like this:

  1. Same translation team used throughout the development process
  2. Translation resources must have extensive experience in media/film localization
  3. Tiered workflows and quality requirements for each stage of the development process
  4. Translator notes and content summaries provided along with translations
  5. Language technologies leveraged to reduce costs and timelines for script development

Selecting Resources

Working with a dedicated translation team to manage communication between local offices and centrally based creative executives allows for a quick and dependable script development process, despite language barriers.

By establishing a translation team beforehand, you can ensure subject matter expertise prior to project kick-off, leading to deeper comprehension of the program’s plot.

Finally, using the same resources throughout a project ensures consistency of translation and a more immersive and thoughtful translation experience.

Organizing Project Workflows

The most successful translation programs for local-language original development are based on a tiered quality approach, dependent upon a project’s stage of production.

For example, at the initial pitch phase, it makes sense to have a quicker translation process that focuses more on general understanding as opposed to creative language. This allows the creative team to quickly select a project to move forward with, and prevents them from spending too much time and money painstakingly translating something that ultimately gets passed.

On the other end of the spectrum, near-final scripts and screeners should be translated using a more extensive process to ensure that all creative nuances are accurately portrayed to both local and central offices. The same goes for notes and feedback passed between local and central creative teams.

Understanding Nuance

Another pillar of a successful translation program for local-language content development is context, which is often the most important aspect of a good film or show.

Translation programs should provide notes, comments, and context to explain deeper meanings of local expressions, landmarks, statements, and references that require further explanation beyond a simple translation.

For example, knowing what types of grocery stores are more prevalent in certain areas, understanding body language cues that are unique to a specific culture, and learning references to local phenomena adds an important layer of context to a film that is easy to miss if not explained outright.

Leveraging Translation Management Tools

Finally, by leveraging CAT tools and translation management software—such as translation memories and centralized key names and phrases (KNPs), or glossaries—you can decrease translation timelines, reduce costs, and improve consistency.

Translation memory leverage is especially important during the script revision phase, as large portions of script will not change from iteration to iteration. Unchanged content can be leveraged from previous translations, instead of being translated from scratch, saving time and money and improving translation consistency.

For the modern day originals team, establishing a centralized translation program sooner rather than later is a must.

For a small amount of energy invested up front, the development process for local-language content becomes faster, easier, and more comprehensive.

With a centralized translation program, central creative offices can maintain enough project oversight, while comfortably letting local offices and production companies take the reins to develop content that is truly great.


If you’re looking for a solution for a centralized translation program, look no further than MediaNEXT. Contact us at today to see how we can help.

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