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‘Transitniki’ Wins Trip to Lille’s Series Mania at Berlin CoPro Series 2020

Reciprocating an exchange which saw Series Mania 2019 Co-Pro Pitching winner “Capturing Big Mouth” participate at this year’s Berlin CoPro Series, German project “Transitniki” will make the return trip to Lille next month, having been selected by Series Mania representatives in Berlin.

From Germany’s Rohfilm Factory, “Transitniki” is set in 1985, behind the Iron Curtain, and tracks groups of thrill-seeking young East Germans, feeling trapped in their own country, who find a way to enter the Soviet Union illegally using transit visas. There, they are able to satiate their desires for travel and adventure in Russia’s untamed wilds.

The series is written by an experienced trio of TV screenwriters in Heide Schwochow, Constantin Lieb and Christian Mackrodt. There is no one creator, no showrunner and no head writer. In fact, when producer Karsten Stöter was putting his writers’ room together, some told him his democratic methodology for screenwriting would never work.

According to the producer however, it has worked better than he expected. Speaking to Variety between meetings at Berlin’s CoPro Series, he explained that although there have been arguments and moments of tension between the group of creatives, their collaboration has meant that, more often than not, the best ideas make it out of the room and dead ends are fewer and farther between.

“We have developed this project from scratch in a writer’s room that consisted of both men and women, writers with East and West German ties, and differences in age and life experience,” Stöter explained to Variety.

“We were trying to have a heterogenous quality in the room,” he went on. “There is no clear creator or showrunner, since the showrunner system is poorly developed in Germany. So, we have worked on a rather democratic basis: the best idea will always prevail. I guess that’s the German way to adapt the American system – at least for us.”

Although the series creative and production teams remain flexible on broadcast possibilities, they do see the project as more likely to end up on pay TV or a digital platform. They are still looking for potential partners from other territories to help secure further financing and potential tax incentives, having already secured development funding from Germany’s MDM Film Fund.

“We were delighted by this refreshing coming-of-age story told through the eyes of young and fearless characters,” Series Mania founder and general director Laurence Herszberg explained to Variety.

She continued, “A road trip from East Germany to the Soviet Union hoping to find liberty is very original indeed. The series rewrites our recent past with a new take and an original perspective which is a trend that we are seeing in many of today’s current European shows.”

Series Mania wasn’t done making news on Tuesday however, as details and main speakers were announced for the upcoming Series Mania Forum were announced.

Among this year’s high-profile invitees are writers Anna Winger (“Deutschland 83”), Eric Rochant (“The Bureau”), Stefano Sardo (“1994”), Sara Johnsen (“22 July”), Jeppe Gjervig Gram (“Follow The Money”); directors Jacques Audiard (“The Bureau”), Christian Schwochow (“The Crown,”), Thomas Vincent (“Versailles,”), Destiny Ekaragha (“The End of the F***ing World”) and Sílvia Quer (“Elite”); as well as industry professionals Lars Blomgren (Endemol Shine Group), Carlo Dusi (Red Arrow International), Moreyba Bidessie (A+E), Christian Vesper (Fremantle), and Xavier Arestimuno (HBO Latin America).

Brazil’s Globo, Japan’s Nippon TV and Russia’s TV3 and Premier Studios will also exhibit at the event for the first time.

“With 3,000 participants set to attend this year, Series Mania Forum has truly become the place to be for all those involved in the creation of series from around the world. The Forum understands the dramatic changes in the industry at all stages of the value chain of series and focuses on writing, production and distribution issues,” said Herszberg.

Series Mania 2020 runs March 20-28, with the Forum held March 25-27.

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