The TorinoFilmLab and Series Mania have announced the nine projects participating in this year’s SeriesLab, an intensive mentorship program that culminates March 26 in Lille when participants will present their projects to an industry audience at the Series Mania Forum.
A joint venture conceived to address the challenge of developing screenwriting talent in the European TV industry, SeriesLab mentors creative talent from across the continent by bringing together writers, creators and showrunners from nine series in early-stage development.
The program shepherds participants through the entire process of creating a TV series concept via a four-month course composed of three residential workshops and two online sessions. With the support of established script consultant tutors and other industry experts, the participants develop a commercial mini-bible and outline the treatment of the pilot.
“I’m really excited about the wonderful work our tutors and participants have done during these months,” says Nicola Lusuardi, SeriesLab head of studies.“It’s incredible how much the professional background and expertise of our participants, both writers and producers, is growing year by year.”
This year’s participants showcase a broad spectrum of creative talents, with nine European countries represented.
In the sci-fi-infused Cold War thriller “Closed City,” by Irish scriptwriter and producer Morgan Bushe, a CIA agent infiltrates a secret city buried in the heart of the Soviet Union, where he partners with a former hotshot detective to unravel a shocking conspiracy. Bushe is an EAVE and Inside Pictures graduate who was selected to participate in Producer on the Move in 2012.
Crime drama “Gothenburg Kids” is from Swedish producer Frida Hallberg and scriptwriters Emiliano Goessens and Morgan Jensen. The series explores the criminal underworld of its titular city through the story of a streetwise teenage drug dealer who unwittingly gets mixed up in a murder. Veteran TV writers Goessens and Jensen are joined by Hallberg, who began her career on Lars von Trier’s “Dogville” and is the founder of Manusfabriken, a training initiative for scriptwriters in the Göteborg area.
“Lost Luggage” unspools in the aftermath of the 2016 terrorist attack that struck Brussels Airport. A bittersweet story of love and loss, it follows a policewoman tasked with returning the hundreds of suitcases and personal belongings left behind in the departures hall. The series is created by Belgian scriptwriters Tiny Bertels, Nathalie Basteyns and Paul Piedfort.
By French writer-director Lucie La Chimia, “Molly’s Blues” bills itself as “the first aquatic political animated soap.” It tells the story of a depressed whale who gets a second chance at motherhood after a one-night stand with a seahorse—an animated fable about anxiety, hope and love that doubles as an allegory for our modern times. La Chimia is the co-writer and director of the short film “White Noise,” which screened at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.
“Offerlings” is a psychological thriller set in present-day Holland but based on ancient myths. It revolves around a psychiatrist returning to her hometown after 16 years, a midwife who never left their village, and the haunted river that flows through its heart. The series comes from producer Dan Geesin and writer-director and producer Esther Rots, whose short and feature films have screened in Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, and other prestigious film festivals.
The story of a deadbeat who gets a second chance at life after a bureaucratic mistake leaves him legally dead, the offbeat “crimedy” “Otto is Dead” is created by Serbian scriptwriter Ljubica Luković, Cypriot writer-director Harry Ayiotis, and German producer Vitus Rheinbold.
“State of Emergency” is a coming-of-age thriller set in the near future in Poland, where a populist government seems bent on staying in power. When the country goes dark on election night, a group of fun-loving 20-somethings become fugitives as the world unravels around them. The series is created by scriptwriter Filip Kasperaszek and producer Paweł Kosuń.
In the supernatural mystery series “The Crossing Place,” a writer searching for her missing boyfriend discovers an Irish village where ancient folklore is seeping into reality. The series is created by scriptwriter Gary Duggan and producer Laura McNicholas, two veterans of both the stage and the screen.
“The Wild Fields,” by Polish scriptwriters Piotr and Marta Szymanek, is set in the wild borderlands of the Carpathian Mountains in the 18th century. After a brutal carriage robbery that seems to leave no survivors, the search for the stolen gold sets off a vicious turf war that becomes a struggle for both power and freedom. The Szymaneks have a long list of TV writing credits between them, including projects for HBO Europe.
Most of the projects selected for SeriesLab’s first two editions are currently in development with producers and broadcasters, with one slated to begin shooting this spring. Says Lusuardi:“It shows us that these kind of programs are continuously fulfilling the strong need of new experiences in development that the entire industry and the creative environment ask for, to be able to raise the bar of European content.”