Beta Film Sells YA Horror Series ‘Cryptid’ to Germany’s Joyn (EXCLUSIVE)

Kalle Ahti

Germany’s Beta Film, a prime mover of this and next week’s virtual TV marketplace, has sold “Cryptid,” produced by Dramacorp for the Nordic Entertainment Group’s Viaplay SVOD service, to Joyn, the new German AVOD venture launched in 2019 by Discovery and ProSiebenSat.1.

Underscoring how regional and big national streaming services are now energizing production and distribution in Europe, the sale also marks a first cornerstone licensing pact on “Cryptid” which in its high-school YA horror tropes and comic book aesthetics, plus short format narrative, aims to break new ground in Europe.

The series is also eliciting “strong interest from other big European territories,” said Beta Film’s Justus Riesenkampff.

“Cryptid” is also the first project at a new specialized pan-European genre production brand which Dramacorp is launching later this year.

Currently in final post-production, which is continuing under Dramacorp head Patrick Nebout despite COVID-19, “Cryptid” will world premiere in competition, as originally announced, at Canneseries. Though the TV festival has been pushed back to October’s Mipcom, and MipTV cancelled, “the fact that MipTV is not taking place will not refrain us from offering it to buyers.  We at Beta are adapting to the situation in creating a virtual marketplace for our content,” Riesenkampff said. 

Shot in Swedish, “Cryptid” kicks off in what look like Nordic Noir style in a placid Swedish lakeside village of Mörkstad. But the sudden dramatic death of the high-school jock appeals far more to the cannons of YA gore.

A group of students set out to explain the bamboozling death. They are drawn, however, in classic horror movie style, to the shores of the local lake, where four teens disappeared years before, dragged under its waters.

The school authorities and parents refuse to believe that anything is awry: When one student, who has witnessed the death, returns home, traumatized by the demise, over dinner his father prefers to talk about a recent exhibition than the extraordinary and inexplicable event at school.

Developed from a pitch by graphic novelist Sylvain Runberg, “Cryptid” is directed by David Berron (“Black Lake”).

The writers’ room mixes seasoned TV talent such as Morgan Jensen and Henrik Jansson-Schweizer who wrote and directed respectively “Superswede,” with Jansson-Schweizer also taking  a writing credit on “Midnight Sun,” with key creatives from the YA space such as novelist Anna Jakobsson Lund.

“Every sale is important to us, but Germany is an especially important market for Scandinavian drama,” said Riesenkampff.

He added: “We are happy to be able to deliver television that meets the requirements of new players such as Joyn; the fact that ‘Cryptid’ was created within the Beta Group means that our model of distributing content produced within the group also works in the new world of streaming, or maybe especially there.”

“‘Cryptid’ is one of Scandinavia’s first young adult horror shows, it’s a short form series, made up of 10 22-minute episodes and even though it’s shot in Swedish and deals with universal teenage angst, it is not Nordic Noir,” said Nebout, head of Dramacorp, a joint venture with Beta.

“It’s definitely not social-realistic,” he added. “We’re upfront about the genre. It’s young adult content, and it’s a supernatural thriller with clear horror elements.”

Looking to transfer the sensation of a graphic novella to the small screen, “the show’s look and feel has its own identity. Tonally and visually the series has an heightened look, which is a departure from your typical Nordic show. SFX and VFX were designed to further enhance the graphic novel atmosphere,” Nebout explained.

He added: “Story-wise, there’s inspiration from both Nordic mythology and cult gothic writer HP Lovecraft’s universe. The end of the first season opens up for an extended universe, just as in many graphic novels.”