For Benoît Louvet, the managing director of Canneseries, “the Golden Age of television is ahead of us.” He hails the wealth of creativity of the series – both the projects in development and the completed shows – to be found at this year’s drama series festival, which runs to Wednesday in Cannes.
Attracting financing for new scripted series is not the challenge, says Louvet, who used to work at French broadcaster TF1. The investment from relatively new entrants like Amazon, Netflix and Apple, in addition to increased spending on drama by traditional networks, has flooded the field with cash. “It is not about the money. It is about the creation. You need to have new idea,” he says.
With so many series being produced – in the U.S. there are about 500 new scripted shows released on the market each year, he says – a major issue is to be able to grab the attention of viewers. Whereas when “The Wire” launched in 2002, viewers would be willing to watch several episodes to see if they wanted to stick with the series, now many viewers will decide in the first 10 minutes, Louvet says.
Looking at the various trends among the series submitted this year, he picks out the number of quirky comedies on offer, in contrast to last year when the majority of shows were quite dark in tone. This year’s crop of comedies, he says “are more linked to the way of life of people in the street,” although he adds that some of them are a little more “crazy” than most people’s lives, using Gregg Araki’s “Now Apocalypse” as an example.
Canneseries is a day shorter than last year but with more series screening and with more masterclasses and other events on offer, Louvet says the intention is to grow year after year.
The festival benefits from its association with MipTV, the market that kicks off in Cannes on Monday, especially the partnership the two events have with regards to the In Development section. While MipTV’s strength has traditionally been its focus on distribution, Canneseries’ focus is on content creation, an area that MipTV intends to build on.
This year Canneseries has brought the In Development sessions within the Palais, the main location for MipTV, whereas last year it was in a separate building next to the harbor. “Now it is embedded within the market, so all the MipTV attendees can go there,” he says.
The idea, he says, is to bring people from the areas of content creation and distribution together under one roof.
While there are many other events dedicated to series, such as Series Mania, and film festivals that have added series to their lineups, such as Berlin, this does not concern Louvet.
The fact that Canneseries runs alongside a market is an obvious advantage for a festival. “A good festival cannot exist without a market,” he says, citing Cannes Film Festival as an example. “We work hand-in-hand with MipTV,” he adds.
A second strength of Canneseries is that it is “totally dedicated to series,” he says. “They are at the heart of the festival.”
The competition between TV series events is no way as intense as that between film festivals, he says, citing the fact that there are 350 festivals dedicated to cinema in France alone.
Competition between series events is a good thing, he says. “The more we talk about series the better it is for everybody.”