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Canneseries/MipTV: Writers Pitch Series at Rapt in Development Forum

CANNES  — This past Monday, five international creatives pitched their prospective series before three jurors and a packed audience of industry watchers as part of the Canneseries In Development program, a joint venture between the upstart festival and the MipTV content market.

The event, titled “Oh My Pitch: Drama Writers’ Pitch,” hosted writers Sabrina Amerell & Alexandre Manneville, Johnny Maginn, Rachel Feldman, and Agata Koschmieder, who spoke of their four projects before a rapt crowd.  As part of the hour-long session, jurors Ash Atalla (Roughcut Television), Christian Wikander (Twelve Town), and Jane Gogan (formerly RTÉ) grilled the writers regarding their goals, inspirations and targeted audiences for their pitched projects.

Following all its sessions, prominent European producer-distributor Federation Entertainment will offer one selected project cat In Development co-development, production and distribution assistance, while Gallic aid La Fabrique des Formats plans to pitch in financing help.

American showrunner Rachel Feldman spoke first, introducing her project “Kinks,” a one-hour drama she described as a “psychosexual circus… [that was really a] romance in disguise.” Feldman’s project would follow a leading sexual psychologist trying to work out her own hang-ups while dealing with her own patients and the criminal cases presented before her on a week-to-week basis.

Feldman described her show’s protagonist as a “post Me Too, post Times Up heroine,” while explaining how her series would mix procedural inquiry and season-long drama.

Following the presentation, the jury asked Feldman about her prospective balance between genres, her season-long story arcs, and her series’ similarities to recent hits like “Masters of Sex.”

Next up was British writer Johnny Maginn, who pitched his series “Hello Dolly.” In his cheeky presentation, Maginn defended his politically charged premise, about a sex doll maker who becomes a working-class revolutionary. Referencing millennial unease, Brexit panic and France’s Gilets Jaunes, Maginn positioned his concept as “a voice to all those who have suffered under austerity.”

No doubt bemused by the writer’s provocative concept, the jury questioned Maginn about his intended tonal balance, the project’s political message, and the potential broadcast difficulties facing a show that dealt with overt sexuality.

Third up was Polish writer Agata Koschmieder, whose series “The Tribe” offers a feminist gangster epic. Koschmieder’s proposed series would follow a family of four sisters who became leading drug runners in post-WW1 Warsaw. The writer explained how she would use each sister to explore a different issue, ranging from gay love, to religious discrimination, to international human trafficking.

Taking questions from the jury, Koschmieder spoke about the importance of the historical setting, the show’s political bent, and the precise balance she envisioned between various genre elements.

Finally, the Franco-German pair of Alexandre Manneville and Sabrina Amerelle stood to present their plague-drama “Black Times.” Set in medieval Europe, the show would follow a diverse cast of characters living in the aftermath of the bubonic plague. Amerelle asked, “What keeps us going when the world goes to pieces?” And then defined her series as a story about faith.

The jury seemed keen on this ambitious narrative, but wondered whether the show, as written, might be too expensive to mount. Still, they were clearly taken by the proposed themes of science versus religion, and had fun picking apart the project’s various supernatural elements.

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