"Cinema is no longer the royal art of television, TV series have replaced it"
Industry Report: Series
Laurence Herszberg and Francesco Capurro • Director and Talent Forum Head, Séries Mania
We met up with Laurence Herszberg, executive director of Séries Mania, and Francesco Capurro, head of its European Projects and Talent Forum
We met up with Laurence Herszberg, executive director of Séries Mania, and Francesco Capurro, head of its European Projects and Talent Forum, to talk about the new edition of the festival, which will take place in Lille from 27 April to 5 May.
Cineuropa: Is an interest in European productions and co-productions, as with cinema, a financial or artistic necessity, or both?
Laurence Herszberg: Initially, it was a financial necessity. The arrival of platforms like Netflix showed us that there was also some artistic interest, that viewers are fond of foreign fiction films in their original language. You only have to look at the success of La casa de papal, Borgen or Marseille. At the same time, there is growing interest, on the American side, in so-called "local content," because people are realising that in order to be global, you also need some local content. This is the challenge that the Co-production Forum is setting itself this year: to get away from international issues and instead show some more niche stories to see if they attract the same attention as international co-productions.
Do you think that television attracts viewers due to TV series?
LH: Cinema is no longer the royal art of television; TV series have replaced it. And this phenomenon goes back to before the appearance of TV series. I think that the decline of cinema came before the revival of TV series.
Older chains still have a very large market share.
LH: Yes, but in reality, not so much. For example, French channels always have a lot of cinema outfits, since the channels have certain film production obligations, but in Italy, for example, that’s absolutely not the case.
Francesco Capurro: Sometimes we do Médiamétrie surveys at the Forum, and we find that fiction works extremely well in terms of the audience. As a result, traditional channels are opening up more and more time slots.
LH: But it's interesting to know if it’s more beneficial for television, or pure players such as Netflix. Clearly, Netflix isn’t going to stop there, it’s racking up a lot of the market share. It plays on volume, so people know that there will always be a series they will enjoy. At the same time, cable channels rely on quality. When OCS takes over HBO, they know that they will benefit from productions with a significant value, as well as topics that differ from the mainstream.
This is the first time you’ve hosted Séries Mania in Lille, will there be any changes?
LH: In Lille, the festival will light up the city. We will still have the same programming requirements and will offer series from around the world. It's also a popular event because people are invited to rediscover the stars they once loved: Patrick Duffy (Dallas), Sofia Helin (The Bridge), etc. There will be dinners prepared by great chefs inspired by Game of Thrones. There’ll also be a Festival Village, open to the public, with a lot of entertainment: virtual reality, a festival radio, dedications, etc.
FC: And Lille Grand Palais will be hosting our professional events. This is where various pitches will take place, including the Co-production Forum pitch, which led to our success. We will gather in plenary sessions during which we will select forty projects, plus another project that we’ll choose in partnership with the Berlinale. We’ve also organised roundtables and conferences. This year we’ve organised what we’re calling the "Lille Transatlantic Dialogues. It’s a full day of conferences, in collaboration with the European Commission and the CNC, which aims to bring together decision makers from the audiovisual industry and policy makers during the Forum to discuss the future of fiction and TV series in Europe.
One last question, which is perhaps not easy to answer or maybe even unanswerable. Do you feel that there is a certain common thread running through the subjects of TV series?
LH: Last year, the recurring theme was kidnappings or missing children. We almost wanted to say: "what did your children do to you to lead you to dedicate your time to making them disappear!" This year, there has been a trend on women’s issues and their destiny. Another trend that we have noticed is a certain pessimism about the evolution of our societies, a concern that is reflected in the dramas that have been produced, which ponder our future. On the other hand, we also get a lot of comedies.
(Translated from French)
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