Top photo: actor Michael C Hall, in Cannes to promote Harlan Coben-written show, Safe
This is the second in a series of posts by the MIPTV News team, summarising the highlights of an action-packed week in Cannes. More soon!
MIPTV’s status as the home of international TV drama was reinforcedby a combination of activities including thought leader keynotes, celebrity red carpet appearances, In Development, the MIPDrama Buyers’ Summit and CANNESERIES, the new Cannes International Series Festival that took place alongside MIPTV.
Designed to showcase drama series from all over the world, CANNESERIES was created in partnership with MIPTV, with the support of the city of Cannes. It featured 10 exclusive screenings as part of the CANNESERIES international competition, culminating in a gala awards ceremony, broadcast by Canal+. At that event, Israel’s When Heroes Fly, produced by Spiro Films, was named Best Series.
The 10 series selected for competition were chosen by a jury headed by writer and creator Harlan Coben. In addition to When Heroes Fly, they included: Aqui en La Terra, a Mexican drama sets against the backdrop of an airport construction project; Cacciatore – The Hunter, an Italian drama set on the streets of Sicily in 1993; Felix, a Spanish thriller about a man searching for a missing woman; Killing Eve, a US drama about the cat and mouse chase between a female MI5 agent and a female killer; Miguel, an Israeli drama focusing on cross-culture adoption; Mother, a Korean drama about a woman who kidnaps a child to protect her from her abusive parents; State of Happiness, a Norwegian drama set in an oil drilling community in Stavanger in 1969; The Typist, a German drama about a woman trying to find out what happened to her missing daughter; and Undercover, a Belgian drama about two agents trying to shut down an ecstasy drugs business.
In addition to the screenings, a line-up of international talent, both from the CANNESERIES screenings and from the shows being launched at MIPTV, was present throughout the week. There were also premieres for three out-of-competition series including Safe, Versailles and The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair. In the case of Safe, there was also a session featuring producer Nicola Shindler, writer Danny Brocklehurst, star Michael C Hall and creator Coben (below).
You’ll find a full report here, but the session notably proved the enduring appeal of certain dramas when an audience member asked Hall whether we’re ever going to see Dexter again. “I don’t know, man!” the star answered. “Honestly I don’t know. I can’t definitely say absolutely not. He’s still alive. I can imagine being presented with something that felt like a story worth telling. But nothing’s in the works,” he said.
In parallel with CANNESERIES, the third MIPDrama Buyers’ Summit offered 450 leading buyers and commissioners an exclusive first look at six unfinished high-end drama series singled out for their writing and production values, originality and worldwide appeal. Introducing the new-look event on Sunday April 8, Laurine Garaude, director of television at Reed MIDEM, said the aim of the event was to help buyers “discover fresh drama before anyone else. The six work-in-progress series chosen illustrate the strength and quality of international drama today.”
The six series on show in the Palais des Festivals’ Debussy Theatre included: Germany’s Pagan Peak, the UK’s Cleaning Up, Spain’s Gigantes, Finland/Germany copro Arctic Circle, Finland’s Bullets and Russia’s Trigger. All six were shown to buyers as 15-minute edits, with Bullets being awarded the first ever Coup de Coeur prize, based on audience voting.
Ahead of the six screenings, buyers were treated to a session in which two analysts provided a snapshot of drama trends. Avril Blondelot, head of content insight at Eurodata TV Worldwide, said a notable development has been the number of US series commissioned in shorter runs, with 89% of 2018’s new shows being launched with 13 episodes or less. She also pointed to a rise in A-list movie talent moving into French TV drama. In terms of the dramas that work best in the sphere of multiplatform viewing, Blondelot said the data pointed towards shows about daily life such as soaps and dramedies. She also said there is evidence that non-linear can help drive linear audiences.
The MIPDrama Buyers Summit kicked off at 13.00 with a Buyers Networking Lunch in the Majestic Hotel, sponsored by the China Pavilion. Shen Jianing, deputy to the president of CITVC, said, “We are committed to presenting the most excellent Chinese TV programmes to a global audience, and we cherish every single chance to exchange ideas with industry talents. It is a great honour for the China Pavilion to be the sponsor of this year’s MIP Drama Buyer Summit Networking Lunch.”
Alongside the above events, MIPTV and CANNESERIES also teamed up to create In Development, a one of a kind event dedicated to fast-tracking quality drama production on an international level. The aim of the two-day event was to discover new voices and fresh original ideas for all screens. Decision-makers were able to connect with writers and producers through pitches, round tables and networking.
A call for entries was made in 2017 and resulted in 344 projects being put forward from 46 countries. By March 2018, an international jury of drama experts had selected 12 from producers and screenwriters that were presented to potential partners during In Development.
The 12 projects came from the US, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, the UK, Sweden, Belgium, Iceland and New Zealand. They were divided into two groups, Programmes In Development and Early Stage Projects, and included strong female characters. Angelica centred on four women connected to an abortion clinic in the US Midwest. Dead Head was about a fake psychic who develops the ability to communicate with the dead after an accident while Whatever, Linda was a 1970s period piece about a woman who starts a Ponzi scheme.
As noted, In Development is designed to find great projects for all screens. So, within the body of the event, six finalists were also named for the Digital Short-Form Series Pitch competition. These finalists, from the US, France, Argentina, South Korea, Australia and Canada had the chance to pitch their projects on Tuesday 10 April.
Delegates at In Development also experienced a range of excellent insights from scripted drama veterans during the Super Panel: The Changing Form Of Financing. Kicking off the session, Endeavor Content agent Lorenzo De Maio said the big trend has continued to be the increased number of shows on the global market: “The volume, quality and global reach of drama is unequalled in history. The biggest talents are being attracted to TV and that is driving the quality,” he said.
This means escalating budgets. However Federation Entertainment president Pascal Breton insisted that raising the money is not so hard. “The big challenge is finding the IP and talent to make great shows.”
RAI Fiction director Eleonora Andreatta said a growing challenge for national broadcasters like RAI is that they are now competing with global projects that are released around the world on the same day as in their home territory. “So everything we do has to be more ambitious. With our series Medici: Masters Of Florence our first cast announcement was Dustin Hoffman and we had a US showrunner Frank Spotnitz.” Decisions like these, she added, raise the financial risk, with breakeven not achieved until shows are in distribution.
In addition to all of the above there was also the International Drama Co-production Lunch, an invitation-only event that allowed leading executives in the international scripted series business to network in a relaxed environment. This year, as part of the two-hour event, senior executives from Kew Media told delegates about the company’s rapid expansion, which has seen it snap up a range of companies.
Explaining how Kew differs from other content companies in the international market, executive vice-president of global scripted series Carrie Stein said: “Often studios and producers are not aligned across their creative and business ambitions. The shift for us is that producers don’t have to distribute with us if they have a better option. This means the focus at Kew Media is on working with the best producers we can find.”
Kew Media founder and executive chairman Peter Sussman agreed that “the centre of gravity at most super indies is on distribution and getting content into the pipe. But for us the pipe is not the centre of gravity, the IP is. That’s different to how I’ve worked in the past.”
Top photo: Michael C Hall, star of Safe