The co-creators of Fauda and Tehran have detailed how they are helping the relief efforts as Ted Sarandos pays tribute to Lior Weitzman, a sound technician on Netflix‘s first Hebrew-language original series, who was killed on Saturday during the Hamas-led attack on Israel.
“A lot of folks are still reeling from this horrific terrorist attack from Hamas,” said Netflix co-CEO Sarandos at the top of an on-stage talk with Bloomberg. “Many of us have probably lost friends and family. At Netflix, one of the victims, Lior Weitzman, was working on our first Netflix original series there, called Bros.”
On Saturday morning, an unsuspecting Weitzman went out cycling, before the attack began. A short while later he texted his wife to say there had been a shooting. “That is the last we heard from him, as he was a victim of that terrorist attack,” said Sarandos.
“It’s a horrific thing that has happened in the world and I just want to say our hearts are out to Lior’s family, and to anyone else who may have lost someone in Israel.”
Weitzman had a stellar CV, working on Apple TV+’s spy series Tehran among other shows. Key production figures in the country have paid tribute to the sound tech, who was most recently working on Guy Amir and Hanan Savyon’s TV drama Bros.
“Lior was just 32 years old, and a really sweet guy,” Tehran co-creator Daniel Syrkin told Deadline. “Our colleague has died and we are devastated. It was a normal day and he went out on his bike smiling. He was a beautiful person.”
Danna Stern, an executive producer on Bros, has been supporting various people impacted by the attacks and helping in efforts to amplify the stories of those lost. She also noted other Bros production crew, just like most people in Israel’s tight-knit production community, has lost or missing family members and friends.
“The atrocities are almost indescribable, she said. “The industry has stopped at a halt. Everyone is volunteering and helping wherever we can and in any capacity”.
Fauda and Tehran co-creators speak out
Israel’s conflict with Hamas-led militants that began with the bloody events of Saturday is set to enter its second week with no end in sight. Israel says it has now secured the border with the Gaza Strip and has enacted a complete blockade of Gaza, which will not end until all hostages taken over the weekend are returned. There is increasing concern over the impact on civilians, who will soon see fuel, food and water supplies run out.
Around 1,300 people were killed in the attacks on Israel, according to the latest estimates, while Gaza’s health ministry says 1,400 people have been killed in retaliatory airstrikes. Hamas this morning claimed 13 hostages taken from Israel have died in the bombardment.
We spoke to Syrkin this week, who was at the time continuing to work on the final three episodes of Tehran season 3 out of editor Roni Klimowski’s home in Tel Aviv, as there is no bomb shelter at the show’s usual editing facility. “We have apps on our phone that show us where the bombs are falling,” he said.
After finishing up the work, Syrkin was planning to volunteer on a relief. “I feel I need to do something physical to get outside of my home and help,” he said. “All of us have been in the military. We serve our country.”
Syrkin’s daughter also works on the production, but he has told her to stay in the safety of her home, noting how most young Israelis had never been exposed to the devastation of ground fighting, even despite their mandatory army training.
“My daughter graduated the army, and half of the family of one of her best friends from her unit is missing,” he said. “This girl spent many hours at our home over the years. She’s been obsessively looking until she found a video of her 12-year-old brother picked up by the neck and thrown like a kitten by Hamas into a truck. She doesn’t know where the rest of her family is.”
Avi Issacharof, the co-creator of Fauda, told Deadline the past few days have been “like a bad horror movie.” He, along with Fauda star and co-creator Lior Raz, have been using their backgrounds in the Israel special forces to help rescue families left to fend for themselves near the Gaza Strip border.
“I’ve known Hamas for 30 years through my past in the special forces and as a journalist,” he said. “I speak to their people. In the times of the Second uprising [Intifada, between 2000-2005], people were killed in suicide bombings, but atrocities like this have never been seen before.”
Issacharof added he felt “disgusted” by the political leaders of both sides of the conflict: “I feel the rage inside me — on the one hand towards Hamas and the other towards my government that failed to protect the population. Even after the attack, we’ve seen the lack of capability of this government’s functions.
“I hope we will get back to work in a few weeks or months but right now we are focused on keeping people safe and surviving the war. We all understand there is one thing to focus on right and that is winning the war.”
“I am a believer in peace,” said Syrkin. “Despite everything we will find a way to live, but we need to get rid of Hamas and extremists. Eventually we will have to find peace-loving colleagues and partners.”