×

Doha Film Institute, New York’s IFP Team Up on First Middle East Series Lab

ROME – The Doha Film Institute has teamed up with New York’s Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) to host the DFI Series Lab, which is being touted as the first curated workshop for fostering more serialized Arabic content in the Middle East.

Participants expected to make the trek to Qatar from the U.S. include Oscar-nominated producer Julie Goldman (“Life, Animated”) who will be presenting and discussing high-profile Facebook series “Humans of New York” as a case study; multi-hyphenate Ryan O’nan (“Fargo”); and Susan Lewis, who is head of development at Alicia Keys’ production company, Big Pita, Little Pita.

Beirut-set “Shankaboot,” considered the first Arabic online drama, will also be dissected as a case study, with Lebanese writer-director Bassem Breche recruited to attend the lab. The event runs from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 in the Qatari capital of Doha.

A lack of Arabic originals is considered to be holding back the growth of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in the Middle East, according to a recent report from research and analysis firm IHS Markit. More generally, Arabic scripted content is broadening its scope beyond the mostly formulaic shows known as Ramadan soaps.

Doha Film Institute CEO Fatma Al Remaihi said in a statement that the lab is “the first in the region to promote Qatari and Arab talent and skills in [the] serialized content [sector]” and called it an extension of the DFI’s efforts to support the production of “quality content” from the Middle East-North Africa region.

Selected directors, writers, and producers working in the Middle East will attend training sessions about the main script-to-screen steps required for multi-platform serialized content, including writing a pilot script, developing characters, story arc, episodes breakdown, how a writer’s room works, and production strategies and distribution models.

The Doha Film Institute, a key source of funding and an incubator for Middle East filmmakers, already holds a prestigious annual film industry event called Qumra (pictured), which blends together a creative workshop, co-production market, and festival elements. Qumra is set to run March 9-14 in Doha.

The new DFI Series Lab and Qumra are both indications that the institute is forging ahead with its activities despite the ongoing political crisis that has seen several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar. The turmoil prevented the institute’s executives from attending the Dubai Film Festival in December.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation

    Kevin Smith Announces Anime 'He-Man' Series for Netflix

    Kevin Smith surprised audiences at Sunday’s annual Power-Con convention by announcing a new anime “He-Man” series for Netflix. The new series, titled “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” will take place in the Mattel toy inspired world and will focus on some of the unresolved storylines of the classic ‘80s show. Smith will serve as showrunner [...]

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content