Series Mania Forum, the portion of the Festival that focuses on developing drama programs for TV, takes place during the critical time period be-tween March 21 and 23, 2023 in Lille, which is located in northeastern France. The period is critical because it falls during the most hectic time for development executives around the world, many of whom are busy preparing for the 2023-2024 TV seasons.
Series Mania’s organizers are aware of this challenge, especially considering that they’re dealing with it directly. This year’s festival-cum-conference (which started in Paris in 2010, before moving to Lille in 2018) begins on March 17, and ends on March 24, 2023.
To talk about all this, VideoAge had a video call with Francesco Capurro, head of Series Mania Forum, from the organization’s Paris headquarters.
VideoAge: Series Mania falls right through the development season in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. How do you manage to get those executives away from their studios to fly to Lille?
Francesco Capurro: Series Mania has become a not-to-be-missed event for development executives and buyers all around the world. Our goal is to provide a very useful event to develop their business over a very short period. In three days they have the chance to discover high-profile projects in development, and meet with talents and screenwriters.
Since all major studios are looking for new voices and stories, Series Mania offers them the best from the European and international scene. Of course it’s a long term approach. The projects that they will meet in Series Mania will hopefully become shows in the coming years, but in a very competitive market it’s important to jump on good projects at an early stage.
VA: Do you have a line-up of development executives already in place?
FC: We are working on it. It’s still a bit early for us to share names for 2023, but the event is getting more and more attention every year and we are working with the best companies and streamers around the world to secure a high-profile line-up. [The program will be announced on February 8, 2023.]
VA: Is Series Mania anticipating any trends for the 2023-2024 TV season?
FC: From a business perspective, from what we are observing in Europe, one trend is definitely looking for new ways to collaborate between streamers and traditional TV broadcasters. Both can co-finance the programs and share the broadcasting windows in complementary ways in order to reach the largest audience. This is a win-win combination.
Streamers are no longer competitors of linear TV, but they are becoming, in a way, partners. They are integrating an ecosystem, and must also adapt to the European rules (even if some negotiations are still ongoing). Streamers are also looking for new financing models and they include advertising. So, after a disruptive breakthrough in the market, it seems that the situation is now “normalizing,” and some traditional business schemes, like windowing and advertising, are coming back. From an editorial perspective it’s still a bit early to observe some new trends, but we will definitely talk about that at the Forum.
VA: Most development executives already have TV outlets where their new shows will land. But will there be ways to facilitate contacts between development executives and international content buyers at Series Mania?
FC: Yes, of course. We organize pitching and matchmaking sessions between buyers and producers. Our goal is to provide a place where creatives can connect with financiers in a friendly yet very professional way. We believe that it is the key to our success, and we would like to continue on this path while adding more and more exclusive content from around the world.
Of course in each country there are shows that are fully commissioned by their domestic broadcasters, but in many countries around the world, there is a big number of high-profile shows in development that need to find several international partners to secure their financing. Those are the kind of programs that executives can discover at Series Mania Forum.
VA: In your opinion, are development executives receptive to modifying their shows to include suggestions from international content buyers?
FC: Yes, the projects presented at Series Mania are still quite early stage so producers are open to feedback from international buyers. They can still change their stories, their characters, or include foreign actors, writers, etc. Their goal is to sell their project internationally, so that feedback is very useful for them.
VA: Development usually involves studio executives, network commissioners, writers, showrunners, talent agents, and the talents themselves. How are you planning to set up the seminars? Will you mix various components? Focus on one component at a time?
FC: Our philosophy is to mix people and make them talk together so that they can better understand each other’s needs. We want to break down the walls between the players.
VA: After 13 years of Series Mania, topics of discussion have surely been covered several times over (after all, the issues are always the same), do you have to leverage the strength of the panelists?
FC: It’s always a challenge to have relevant topics as there are more and more TV trade events around. We try to stay ahead and differentiate ourselves. We have five thematic strands at Series Mania Forum:
- Sourcing Ideas and Talents: Emerging and established talents take center stage as they share their pitches and creative ideas behind various projects. This includes the co-production pitching session, the writers’ campus pitching session, the co-writing residency between France and Israel, as well as project pitches from Taiwan and Africa.
- Content Showcases: A diverse selection of new series coming to the international scene.
- Creative Business Inspiration: A series of panels, showcases, and masterclasses that decipher the trends, the challenges, and the opportunities in the industry.
- Marketing of Series and Innovation: This is new this year. Regardless of a series’ quality, one of the biggest challenges any series faces is standing out in an overcrowded market. Marketing professionals share their views.
- Lille Dialogues: Key industry executives and policymakers come together to discuss strategy, government regulation, and how to overcome the challenges facing the European audiovisual industry.
VA: Finally, is there a section in the seminar program where remakes and reboots can be discussed with some excitement?
FC: Yes, reboots and remakes will be discussed during our conferences. We will also have some IP pitching sessions (books and podcasts to be adapted to series). It’s a gold mine for new ideas and shows how to bring new content to the market while limiting the risks.
Audio Version (a DV Works service)