Series Mania, Beta Group Open Up Seriesmakers to Directors of Box Office Hits, Lesser Known Filmmakers (EXCLUSIVE) 

Seriesmakers, twinning Series Mania, Europe’s biggest TV fest, and European film-TV powerhouse Beta Group, is opening up its selection criteria to embrace directors of box office smashes or hits at festivals beyond “A” list events

Published Time: 04.06.2024 - 20:31:32 Modified Time: 04.06.2024 - 20:31:32

Seriesmakers, twinning Series Mania, Europe’s biggest TV fest, and European film-TV powerhouse Beta Group, is opening up its selection criteria to embrace directors of box office smashes or hits at festivals beyond “A” list events.

Launching 2022 as a project-based mentorship program for film directors aiming to become TV series creators, Seriesmakers has fast consolidated as one of Europe’s top-notch training facilities.

“Game of Thrones” producer-director Frank Doelger, “Babylon Berlin” producer Stefan Arndt, Ron Leshem (“Euphoria,” “No Man’s Land”) and “Narcos” creator Chris Brancato featured as speakers at its 2023-24 edition.

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Led by Cannes Grand Prix winner Juho Kuosmanen (“Compartment No. 6”), seven of the 10 TV projects showcased at its first 2022-23 edition were from directors who had been selected for the Cannes Film Festival.

Now, as it prepares its third edition whose call for applications closes June 20, Seriesmakers is aiming for a larger inclusivity.

For its first and second editions, being chosen in official selections of a “A” list festival was required for a director to even be considered for Seriesmakers, Koby Gal-Raday, Beta Group chief content officer, toldVariety.

“Series Mania and the Beta Group has had near daily discussions about how Seriesmakers could better support the industry, opening up and expanding without losing its very high-level program,” he added.

“More and more filmmakers are interested in making TV shows. Creativity is not defined totally by “A” list festival selection which focuses often on up-and-coming talents and highly established “A-list” icons. That leaves out a whole middle section of directors and we have a lot of talented people who apply to other festivals, not “A” list events,”said Laurence Herszberg, Series Mania general director.

Local box office hits may not even go to festivals, Gal-Raday observed. “Their creators, however, are still cinema directors who don’t understand – or as yet don’t know how to play by – the rules of TV,” he continued.

While opening up to a broader range of directors, Seriesmakers will maintain its structure of two intense online workshops and mentors who coach director-producer or director-writer teams. Between workshops, two mentors maintain a weekly contact with the creative teams of each project. Teams will not be allowed to be larger and Seriesmakers will not grow its umber of selected projects from the current 10.

“We believe very much in the intimate, very human process between two mentors and creative duos. Anything larger and it becomes a group session, which has a differ dynamic,” said Gal-Raday.

Second edition mentors were German producer Janine Jackowski (“Toni Erdmann,” “Spencer”); Israeli writer-script doctor Ronit Weiss-Berkowitz (“The Girl From Oslo”); Isabelle Lindberg Pechou (“Trom”); and Brazilian producer-writer Felipe Braga (“Sintonia”).

“I’m very honoured, surprised and humbled that most of them are quite happy to join again,” said Gal Raday.

Seriesmakers’ third edition will run four months from November 2024 through February 2025. For the third edition, there will be one main -

award of €50,000 ($54,500) entitled the Beta| Kirch Foundation Award. The winning team will be announced during the 2025 Series Mania Forum in Lille, France and will develop a pilot script and a bible for the awarded project with further creative support from Beta’s Content Division

Varietychatted to Herszberg and Gal-Raday as they looked forward to a 3rd Seriesmakers:

One hallmark of Series Mania and Seriesmakers is the high artistic ambition of its titles. Would you be looking for that from more commercial directors?

Herszberg:Yes, that’s something we really pay attention to. That the project has something which is of value. It’s not that we ask a filmmaker to write a thesis about that, but we have to see the potential. The training sessions will help directors tease out that potential.

Looking at this year’s Series Mania, there were social-issue series such as All3Media Intl’s “Boarders” and Beta Film’s “Soviet Jeans” which had an agenda – equitable access to elitist education and freedom-pushing counter culture in 1979 Soviet Latvia – which were at the same time broadly upscale, fast-paced entertainment. Would you want that?

Herszberg:The best way to have a success, something popular, is to layer something that will make people think. Yes, of course we want that.

Gal-Raday:I was amazed to see that at Seriesmakers’ first two editions most filmmakers coming from extreme arthouse cinema were very keen to have an audience. Commercial arthouse is not an obscene phrase. The winners at Cannes in many sections were commercial arthouse, not pure arthouse.

So you’d welcome series which are kind of hybrids?

Gal Raday:Yes, we can find and identify singular voices, original stories, that answer the criteria of an artistic vision. But they still use some tools of mainstream television, obeying genres and then redefining them. We just get better television.

Does opening up Seriesmakers mean opening up in geographical terms?

Gal-Raday:The “A” list festival is a very determined list. We have got a lot of interest from MENA, Asia and Latin America where there are not so many qualifying festivals. We’re responding to the industry and markets from those regions.

You’ve said you’ll maintain the system of tutors and members…

Herszberg:We made a survey, asked participants about the mentors, and they all said they were really top notch. Their support is really appreciated because it’s not that easy when you’re trying to create another redo and you don’t ever know if you’re going the right way. It’s better to have someone supporting you and telling, yes, that’s a good direction, or not.

Any other changes?

Gal-Raday:We are looking a bit at the structure of the workshops: How many hours a day, how to structure so that they’re more operational. The fact creators are based in very different time zones around the world makes it challenging to use the same timeline. A very good project manager can handle that.

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