Series Mania Goes Virtual

Frozen Land
Denis Mukimov | da / a.r. content

In one of the first concrete instances of a new virtual TV marketplace building in Europe as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, Series Mania, which cancelled its 2020 edition in Lille, is instead launching Series Mania Digital Platform.

The Platform will feature video pitches of the 16 selected projects in the Co-Pro Pitching sessions, Series Mania’s industry centerpiece, Laurence Herszberg, founder and general director of Series Mania, announced Tuesday.

Other Digital Platform features take in selected events from the UGC Writers Campus Pitching sessions, video pitches from the Franco-Israeli residency, “Coming Next From” sessions in collaboration with SODEC, TVFI and German Films, and curated series from its Buyers Showcase.

The platform will be made available to an online audience of accredited industry decision-makers starting Wednesday March 25, the day the Co-Pro Pitching Sessions were programmed to take place in Lille, northern France, kicking off Series Mania’s three day industry Forum. It will run through to April 7. Digital Forum platform access will be priced at €90 ($100).

“Today, the Series Mania Forum is a major professional event for European and international decision-makers,” said Herszberg. “It is also a key rendezvous in the industry international agenda. At their request, the Series Mania Forum team had to provide continuity solutions, the mere cancellation of all pitching sessions being too detrimental to creation and industry,” she added.

Announced by Series Mania on Tuesday, the digital Co-Pro Pitching Sessions gives sudden new relevance to the Sessions’ line-up which takes in high-profile European production companies, such as Haut et Court on “My First Family,” and The Mediapro Studio on “Submarine,” a groundbreaking co-production with Brazil’s Globo, or three-time Oscar nominated Agnieszka Holland (“Europa Europa”), who is attached to direct “Fate and Life.”

The virtual presentation also anticipates an expected string of initiatives which will see producers and sales executives taking online meetings scheduled for Series Mania or MipTV or offering digital versions of their once live industry events.

They come as the European TV industry faces gargantuan losses from shuttered shoots across Europea and the U.S. and needs urgently to move forward in the two parts of the value chain which can still operate through COVID-19 crisis: Development and distribution.

Of projects, set up at the U.K’s Cosmopolitan Pictures and Clerkenwell Films and Poland’s Apple Film, “Life and Fate” is a small-screen adaptation of Russian Vasily Grossman’s massive novel. It deals with a subject close to Holland’s movies: A Russian family at the Siege of Stalingrad, battling a totalitarian enemy and suffering their own totalitarian government.

Fruit of a first look development deal struck by France’s Haut et Court –  producer of “The Returned,” “Last Panthers” and “The New Pope” – and Israel’s Quiddity – whose Eilon Ratzkovsky has producers credits on “Ananda,” “Yellow Peppers,” “Milk & Honey” and “Sirens,” all sold for U.S. remake – “My First Family” is set in an alternate reality where people need a license to have children.

Marking Globo Studios’s second venture into English-language series co-production, here with “The New Pope” and “The Head” producer The Mediapro Studio, “Submarine” is created by TMS’s Ran Tellem (“Homeland”) and Mariano Baselga (“The Boarding School”) and Brazil’s Marcos Bernstein (“Central Station”) and described by them as a “complex political criminal thriller,” sparked when organized crime sequesters Brazil’s first nuclear sub.

Of titles creating buzz when first announced for the Sessions, “Turbo,” from Belgrade-based Sense Production (“Malmkrog”), is billed as Serbia’s first real international co-production, a mobster drama framed by the 1991 war.

Other titles include projects by Laïla Marrakchi (“Casa Girls”),  “The Great Beauty” producer Indigo Film (“A Marriage”), “Leviathan” producer Alexander Rodnyansky (“Frozen Land”), Belgian smash hit “The Break” creators Hélicotronc (“Good People”) and “The Abduction of Yossele Shuchmacher,” the latest from celebrated Israeli director Eran Riklis (“Lemon Tree,” “The Syrian Bride,” “Dancing Arabs”).

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