"Be different!" Successful beginning for the second „Drama Series Days“ at the Berlinale
- Market screenings, pitchings and panels: international experts discuss in the Spiegelzelt opposite the Martin Gropius Bau
- Top-notch panel calls for more risk-taking in European series
- Partner: Film- und Medienstiftung NRW once more a partner for the new industry platform for series at the European Film Market
- Funding recommendations for the German-French funding programme announced
A successful beginning for the second edition of the „Drama Series Days“ at the „European Film Market“ (EFM) as part of the 66th Berlinale: the focus was on „Commissioning Strategies“ in the Spiegelzelt opposite the Martin Gropius Bau on Monday after the official opening by the EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knól, Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick and Filmstiftung CEO Petra Müller. Moderator Jonathan Webdale (C21) led a discussion with Marcus Ammon (Sky Deutschland), Andrea Scrosati (Sky Italia) and Antony Root (HBO Europe), presented by HBO Europe. This year again sees the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW serving as a partner for the „Drama Series Days“ which provide a dedicated industry platform for TV series.
German-French Co-Development Fund
In her opening address, Petra Müller also announced the first funding recommendations of the new German-French funding programme for the co-development of TV fiction series: „The House“ (Lupa Film and Port au Prince with Atlantique Film (F)) as well as „The Crimson Rivers“ (maze Pictures with Europa Corp Television (F)). The partners on the German side of the new German-French funding programme, whose first funding recommendations were announced during the „Drama Series Days“, are: FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg and MFG Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg. The Centre National du Cinéma (CNC) supports this fund on the French side. The fund has a total budget of 200,000 Euros at its disposal, with the maximum level of funding for a single project being set at 50,000 Euros. The goal of the fund is the development of TV fiction series which will be made as German-French co-productions.
Industry debate: The more local, the more global
The afternoon’s Industry Debate on „Cross-Atlantic Series Success: (Re) Making TV for Europe and the World“ was organised as in the previous year by EFM together with Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and IFA and in cooperation with The Hollywood Reporter. Moderator Scott Roxborough (The Hollywood Reporter) discussed the continuing boom of TV fiction series and the export chances for European productions with an eminent panel of experts.
Philipp Steffens, Head of Fiction at the Cologne-based private channel RTL, spoke about his most recent experiences on the lavishly produced East-West spy series „Deutschland 83“. The programme, which was rather atypical for the channel, registered only lukewarm viewing figures, but was broadcast with great success at the beginning of this year in places like the USA and the UK. „We made this series in order to improve our channel’s image“, Steffens explained. This has definitely succeeded. The prospects are also good in economic terms. „We can even now think about a second season because we have a much wider basis for the financing through the international distribution“, Steffens noted. However, they will have to think very carefully about how far one can take risks. „Our goal is still wanting to appeal to a mass audience“, the RTL Fiction boss said, „we will definitely not specialise in niche programming.“
Philipp Steffens (RTL), Piv Bernth (Danish Broadcasting), Caroline Benjo (Haut er Court), Bruce Tuchman (AMC/Sundance), Scott Roxborough (The Hollywood Reporter), Petra Müller (Film- und Medienstiftung NRW)
Caroline Benjo of the French production and distribution company Haut et Court, which is responsible for such productions as the internationally successful zombie series „The Returned“, called, on the other hand, for a greater willingness to take risks from those making series. „The international success doesn’t have anything to do with the level of the budget“, she warned. The European drama series must be different, have unique characteristics like European feature films which are regularly scoring success at festivals around the globe. The important thing, according to Benjo, is that the respective cultural background is preserved. One of the most successful European series executive of the past ten years confirmed this opinion on the panel: Piv Bernth, Head of Drama at the pubcaster Danish Broadcasting (incl. „The Bridge“, „The Killing“, „Borgen“), sees the emphasis on one’s own cultural identity as being an essential factor the positive response to many series coming from Northern Europe. „We tell stories that only we can tell“, said Bernth, whose motto is: „The more local, the more global“.
The potential for foreign-language series from Europe in the USA is far from being exhausted, according to Bruce Tuchman. „The standard of the drama series in television has significantly improved compared to 15 or 20 years ago“, observed the president of AMC Global, who has teamed up with Sundance TV to broadcast such series as „Deutschland 83“ and „The Returned“ in the United States. „The audience has adapted to this development and increasingly wants to see high-quality series wherever they come from.“ The US audience has now reached a point where it is also prepared to accept foreign-language productions with subtitles – a form of presentation which Piv Bernth regards as being the best possible in any case.
Other events followed at the Berlinale Co-Production Market and Berlinale Talents on Tuesday under the umbrella of the „Drama Series Days“. They included case studies about the „Cleverman“ series (USA/AUS), the Series Pitching at the Co-Production Market as well as the cinematography in in series in general and in „Game of Thrones“, in particular.
The „Drama Series Days“ with the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW as a partner are a joint initiative of the European Film Market, Berlinale Co-Production Market and Berlinale Talents industry platforms. The European Film Market is one of the most important platforms for international licensing of film rights and audiovisual content.