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ONSeries Lisboa Announces Sections, With Portuguese Government Backing

Nuno A.Silva
João Bica/Portal do Governo

MADRID —  As of Friday, some more contained TV events in Europe were moving full-steam ahead. One, ONSeries Lisboa, set for April 28-29, has revealed a new major section, and the enthusiastic backing of Portugal’s government.

In one move, ONSeries Lisboa and Conecta Fiction have opened a joint call for projects in early development linking Portugal and Spain. Only screenwriters living in one of the two countries can apply, and can do so without production company backing. 10 semi-finalists that will be presented at a Contest ONideas pitch session in Lisbon. Five segue to a final Contest ONideas in Conecta Fiction, scheduled to take place in Pamplona, Spain over June 22-25.

Earlier this week, ONSeries Lisbon also unveiled to the industry a Pitch Short-Form Series competition whose 10 selected semifinalists will again be showcased at Lisbon, where they will receive mentor advice. Half of them again will be selected to travel to June’s Conecta Fiction.

ONSeries Lisboa 2020’s selection committee includes Sened Dhab, director of digital scripted content at France Televisions; Agustín Alonso, deputy director of Transmedia and Playz at Radio Televisión Española (RTVE); Marcelo Liberini, digital vice president at Colombia’s Caracol Televisión; Emilio Aliaga, chief digital officer at Mexico’s TV Azteca; Anne Santamaría, a French international consultant; and Pedro Boucherie Mendes, head of strategic planning at Portuguese private network SIC.

Arrangements were confirmed Thursday at a meeting of Portugal’s Independent TV Producers Association (APIT) after Nuno Artur Silva, appointed in October to the newly created post of Secretary for Cinema, Audiovisual and Media, stressed the strategic importance of the film and TV sector for Portugal.

The appointment of Silva, a producer and former executive at Portuguese public broadcaster RTP was in itself an indication of this: In other times, that job may well have have gone to a careerist politician.

Portugal has a proud tradition of often radical or edgy auteurist art films, which allows it to punch far above its weight in film festival selection.

The new position, however, Silva stressed a written statement, was “created to build an integrated and structural strategy of public policies for the whole sector.” “The only way to conceive of the sector today is to have a joint vision of cinema and the audiovisual,” he added, echoing comments made by Graeme Mason, CEO of  Screen Australia, the country’s federal support body, to Variety, published during the Berlinale.

This means coaxing excellent cineastes into longer-form scripted, such a mini-series or 6-8 part scripted series.

Silva drilled down on the attractions of Portugal: Locations; technical team quality; a cash rebate incentive; the growth of co-production; Portugal’s historical heritage, rich in stories.

Spain-Portugal co-production is already yielding new business models with companies experimenting with financing structures, hence rights ownership.

On “Dry Water,” a Vigo/Lisbon-set crime thriller screened at October’s Mipcom by London-based DCD Rights, Spain’s Portocabo, the originators of Movistar Plus’ breakout hit “Hierro,” and SP International, one of Portugal’s biggest independent production companies, linked up with RTP and Galician state TV TVG.

Crucially, Portocabo and SPi retained 100% of IP. In return, however, tapping into tax breaks, public financing, private investors and a distribution advance, Portocabo and SPi were able to deliver a series to the broadcasters that almost tripled the level of investment normally made by these channels.

The structure also allowed the public networks to keep own-territory broadcast rights and a small revenue corridor beyond, Portocabo partner-producer Alfonso Blanco told Variety.

Talent can come from anywhere. So can innovative business models.

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