The traditional end-of-MIP industry trends panel saw Cobbstar Productions’ Brian Cobb, The Bridge’s Amanda Groom and Hurrah/MIPBlog’s Angela Natividad discuss the week’s key topics with Reed MIDEM’s James Martin.
Martin began with a wordcloud of the week’s recurring buzzwords on social media. Online video stars El Rubius — Spain’s n°1 YouTuber and a big draw at this year’s market — and the actresses of Carmilla — MIPTV’s Brand Content of the Year award — generated the majority of the show buzz, notably notching up the market’s ten most-retweeted tweets. And as often happens during MIP Markets, 6 out of the top ten hashtags were related to Turkish drama, a genre whose fans are particularly active on social media.
Other notable trending hashtags included #canneseries — naturally, for the TV festival’s first edition — and, of course, #freshtv. Groom and Natividad noted on this topic that the shows presented this week by The Wit’s Virginia Mouseler tended to be “kinder” and more diverse than previously:
Both, @luckthelady & @AmandaTheBridge agreed that formats seem to become “kinder”. Amanda said: “We’re laughing now with people and not at people” & Angela adds that at #FreshTV she saw a lot of shows about topics such as illness, disability & gender fluidity #MIPTV #mipformats
— MIP Markets (@mip) April 12, 2018
Then on to each speaker’s chosen topic. Cobb had chosen #genZ, or how to reach younger audiences, with what types of content. This Australian producer took part in MIPTV 2017’s Digital Short Form Pitch, and since saw his show acquired by mobile-focused platform Blackpills. Remarking that he’s perceived a notable growth in quantity and quality of content for generation Z and millennials — who “don’t watch TV any more” — Cobb said that digital platforms have given producers a “direct pipeline to audience, which has changed the way we tell our stories.” One key aspect, he said, was fan engagement; something he deals with regularly as the producer of The Horizon, known as the world’s most-watched gay web series. “Fans have already told us that if we break up a certain couple, they’ll never watch the show again!”
Cobb also noted, to the previous Fresh TV point, that social issues like depression and anxiety are a big trend. Groom would later agree that “authenticity” is absolutely key, whatever the production, but especially for younger audiences.
Natividad also remarked that platform awareness is key when catering for gen Z. “Facebook’s Matthew Henick said in his keynote this week that whereas TV is a window, mobile facilitates interaction. So on mobile, not everything has to be interactive, but it’s not lean-back as TV either.”
On to Natividad’s chosen topic: #femaleshowrunners. “Today, we see more and more strong female characters like in Handmaid’s Tale for example, but we also need to make an effort to find and train more women to become showrunners,” she said.
Referring to yesterday’s panel on this subject, Natividad explained that it’s more difficult for women to take on this role in some countries than in others. Whereas the US provides specific training courses, countries like France still tend to “give the director/auteur a kind of God-like status“, which makes elevating the status of the showrunner challenging.
So what are the solutions? Echoing CANNESERIES’ Fleur Pellerin’s expressed reservations about quotas, Natividad reminded us of the Bechdel test, which, to quote Wikipedia “asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.” This remarkably simple barometer can only be applied to a handful of series; Carmilla being one of them. As for quotas, “Pellerin feels they are anti-creative“, said Natividad; but “you still need to make more effort to hunt female talent down,” she said.
On to Groom’s topic: #copro #asia. As a coproduction consultant, Groom has noted a marked increase in interest in Asian copros of late, coming from both sides of the planet, she said. But again, such relationships must be authentic:
“When it comes to #copro in #Asia Korea is the driving force, but China is actively looking for co-production partners” says @AmandaTheBridge. “You need to find the right relationship that connects over the right show” #MIPTV
— MIP Markets (@mip) April 12, 2018
Groom also linked back to Cobb’s topic, saying that Asian “digital-savvy youth” is a huge potential audience: “young people in Manila, for example, can have commutes of up to six hours. All that time, they’re consuming content on their phones”.
She also affirmed that the previous tendance of big companies arriving in Asia and trying to impose their content on those territories is now on the decline. Individual producers can have just as good a chance of breaking through as big companies. One Welsh producer even managed to score a major coproduction with Korea, the end result being shot in both languages and broadcast by national channel S4C! “Walls are coming down,” said Groom; “there is notably increased interest in Asian coproduction with western producers. Korea is a driving force in co-production”, she said; “and China is actively looking for co-production partners.”
And that, as we all-too-often say, was a wrap! Thanks for following our live coverage this week. It’s been a blast!