European TV co-productions steal the show at Series Lab Hamburg
by Birgit Heidsiek
- At this year’s German event, the Albatross Award, worth €7,500, was handed out to the European TV series GR5
After three days of pitching sessions, project presentations and speed-dating sessions at the Series Lab Hamburg, the psychological thriller GR5 by Belgian producer Serge Bierset, of Zodiak Belgium, and German producer Dorothe Beinemeier, of Hamburg-based Red Balloon Film, received the Albatross Award. Sponsored by German broadcaster NDR, the prize, worth €7,500, was given out to acknowledge the best concept for a television series. Comprising ten episodes with a length of 45 minutes each, writers Gert Goovaerts and Lynnsey Peeters unfurl a story about a group of young people who hit the road on the Grande Randonnée Cinq, a hiking path from the North Sea to the French Riviera, where their friend disappeared without a trace five years ago.
“GR5 is a professional and well-prepared idea for a TV series that, in a new and original way, presents a young adult series with both nuanced characters, and an exciting and surprising story,” stated the jury, which included German actress Maria Furtwängler (March of Millions), Danish series writer Nikolaj Scherfig (The Bridge) and Christian Granderath, head of the TV Fiction department at Hamburg-based NDR. Five years after the 20-year-old woman disappeared on the trekking route, a group of her friends decide to go on that very same trip. They do so both to honour her memory and perhaps also to figure out what actually happened when she disappeared.
“Together with our characters, we embark on a journey through some of the most beautiful parts of Europe, but also on a journey that has been harbouring a possible murder mystery. It becomes an inner and outer journey, where the characters come closer to each other and to themselves,” underlined the jury members, who acknowledged that this project could become an exciting and original television series with great co-production potential. “We are delighted that we are getting such positive feedback at such an early stage,” said award winners Beinemeier and Bierset. “The Albatross gives us a tailwind for our European co-production.”
Created by Letterbox Filmproduktion, the Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein and Creative Europe Desk Hamburg, the Series Lab Hamburg brought 20 producers from 12 countries together with script consultants, sales agents and commissioning editors from all across Europe. The three-day event ended with case studies that gave an insight into the development and financing of European drama series. They included the Italian detective series Maltese by Gianluca Maria Tavarelli, produced by ZDF Enterprises, Palomar TV & Film Production and Maze Pictures, and the high-end drama series Bad Banks by Christian Schwochow (November Child [+see also:
film profile], The Tower, Paula [+see also:
film profile]), a co-production between Germany’s Letterbox Filmproduktion and Luxembourg-based Iris Productions. The latter series, structured into six episodes, looks behind the scenes of the global financing business in the big banking houses. Michael Lehmann, chairman of Studio Hamburg Production Group, and Lisa Blumenberg, producer at Letterbox Filmproduktion, presented the first excerpts of the international high-end drama series at the MIPDrama Screenings in Cannes.
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