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Industry Report: Television

Cultural identity and the international market under discussion at Série Series

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Cultural identity and the international market under discussion at Série Series

- After a period of renewal and reworking of fiction, will a period exportation come next? That's the ambition now displayed by public authorities wjp would like French fiction to set out and conquer new territories. What is the future of creation? On Thursday, June 30, the Série Séries Festival  in Fontainebleau hosted a debate about cultural identity and the international market. Cineuropa reports on some themes discussed during the event.

Based on the the assessment that France is a country that exports new series, Anne Rambach, screenwriter and president of the French Screenwriters Guild launched the conference by noting a remarkable rise: this year, for the first time, France ranks among the top 5 worldwide exporters of series, thanks to co-productions and the export of local series. It's an observation shared by Emmanuelle Bouilhaguet, executive director of Lagardère Studios distribution: “We're in a very dynamic and stimulating market, with very significant growth in terms of exports, new actors and new competitors.”

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Distribution of series: Necessity and Specificities

Luca Milano, assistant director of Rai fiction, referred to the the tradition of collaboration between Italy and France, two countries with a large public whose audiences can justify a national production, with international distribution not always being necessary. He cited the example of the two Italian flagship series, Montalbano and Gomorra. However, thanks to an increase in television channels in Italy, it is now possible to disseminate more material, including French or Scandinavian series.

 “There are two types of series: procedurals, that can be watched individually, and serialized shows,” adds Emmanuelle Bouilhaguet. “Some procedural series, such as Joséphine Ange Gardien, were sold in Italy and Spain for example, for daytime broadcast. "Feel good" stories correspond to the needs of international broadcasters. Other tent-pole series such as Caïn travel well since they correspond to the needs of broadcasters for some time slots during the day or prime time"

English, a Requirement for Exportation?

Pascal Rogard, managing director of  SACD, regrets that the discussion of exports doesn't favor the use of French screenwriters: “Works created for export, built around English such as Versailles, necessarily exclude the participation of French-speaking screenwriters.”

Foreign television series have not been left behind in the use of English. Luca Milano (Rai) referred to the the English-language series I Medici, now in the process of production, with Wild Bunch and run by an American showrunner.

“At CNC, we particularly support original creations in French, these are a bonus. But English isn't prohibited either,” adds Vincent Leclercq, Audiovisual Director at CNC. “Some choose English, like the series Versailles, others choose realism, where different languages make sense, like CarlosJour Polaire or Panthers."

Olivier Wotling, director of fiction for Arte, gives the example of the Norwegian TV series Occupied, created by Jo Nesbø, where Arte is a minority co-producer: “We're not looking for co-productions in English to promote export. The identity and the coherence of the project have to be its strengths.  We accept the original culture and languages that the project dictates.”

Emmanuelle Bouilhaguet (Lagardère Studios distribution) states for his part that although the marketing of series in English is potentially more profitable than ones in French, using the example of the sale of the series Le Transporteur, the language barrier in terms of exportation is disappearing. The United Kingdom, for example, has been purchasing French and European series, such as the series Les Revenants and Témoins, for some time

VoD, a Solution?

For Vincent Leclercq of CNC, VoD platforms are overturning the models, since they demand exclusive content and all rights.

Producer Bénédicte Lesage (Mascaret) also pointed to the importance of creating singular and strong works with different points of view, citing the example of a black and white miniseries that was produced for Arte and bought by Netflix.

“The rules are somewhat fluid today, since Netflix buys series that might not be very marketable locally,” admits Emmanuelle Bouilhaguet, noting that deals with Netflix were easier two years ago. Today, they can demand protections, such as a ban on television broadcast or video release. The agreements can be lucrative but the question of local markets and exhibition needs to be asked."

The Path Forward

Olivier Wotling (Arte), remarks that the the road toward international markets is long for France to reach the level of the Scandinavian model. It's thanks to sales, advance sales and meetings that links are created, he adds, citing the example of Borgen, where years of collaboration with Arte have resulted in the channel probably coproducing the producer's next project. “It is also interesting and useful for French creators find themselves in a pool of creators, to learn different approaches to writing and organization,” adds Wotling.

Vincent Leclerq (CNC) also returned tp the importance of development and writing, via a new initiative aimed at supporting the development of series writing, in collaboration with Germany, beginning with the series Eden. “Creative dialogue with foreign partners takes time and money, it's complicated. But if this initiative turns out to be productive from a creative point of view, we will consider expanding it to other countries,” reveals Leclerq.

Pascal Rogard (SACD) called for the development of festivals for series: “Festivals are important tools for the exhibition and distribution of works. It works well for theatrical films, and is beginning to happen for series." 

 

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