Série Series 2021
Industry Report: Series
At Série Series, European series professionals discuss collaboration between Spain and France
The power of collaboration to promote quality creation was the focus of this discussion between producers and a screenwriter working on series involving France and Spain
The Série Series festival continues its tradition of bringing together European series professionals for its tenth edition. In a talk entitled “European Fiction Content: When Spain Meets France”, creatives from both countries discussed why and how they continue to work across these borders.
Alexandre Piel, from ARTE, talked about the evolution of the company from its focus on German-French collaboration to its expansion towards Scandinavian creation first, and then Latin cultures, such as Italy and Spain. It is important for ARTE not to influence the Spanish creators with its French, German and Scandinavian experience, and those new collaborations started with ARTE simply observing and learning from its Spanish colleagues. Eventually, the company joined in with the development and creation of series, such as No Man’s Land and Pepe Coira’s Hierro [+see also:
interview: Jorge Coira
interview: Olivier Wotling
series profile]. The latter struck Piel as the perfect series for ARTE, since its protagonist is an outsider coming onto a mysterious island and discovering its very specific culture together with the viewer. This move towards bolder, more idiosyncratic stories was inspired by the work of Sky Italia, which at the time was challenging the norms of the series format. Piel pointed out that the absence of any French elements in Hierro was intentional: working on the show was an opportunity for ARTE to do things differently, rather than impose its model on another tradition, in order to respect the original ideas of its creators and truly support European production.
Nathalie Drouaire, international and co-production manager at BrutX, discussed the guiding principles of the new streaming platform from global media company Brut, launched only three-and-a-half months ago. The goals of the platform are progressive, aiming to “move the line” on environmentalism and diversity, and transgressive, since its subscription price of €4.99 per month means that BrutX isn’t trying to compete with the American streaming giants, but rather offer curated, quality and bold European series. For instance, the platform recently purchased Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo’s series Veneno [+see also:
series profile], which sparked a political debate in Spain, where a trans rights law has just been approved.
Screenwriter Fernando Navarro explained what appeals to him in working across several countries and languages. His latest project, the series A Perfect Enemy [+see also:
interview: Kike Maíllo
film profile], is based on the novel by French writer Amelie Nothomb, adapted into English by a Spanish team, and stars an international cast, including Polish actor Tomasz Kot (Cold War [+see also:
Q&A: Pawel Pawlikowski
film profile]) in the lead. For him, this diversity is what gives European productions the chance to really compete with American series, since the many international connections that this kind of co-production allows can give a small project a greater reach.
Nacho Manubens, CCO and partner at Federation Entertainment Spain, explained how the production and distribution company grew from France and expanded into Spain, with a focus both on creativity and on business knowledge, working on hits such as Veneno.
Finally, when asked about the future of European drama, all participants emphasised the power of connection. Manubens believes that giving creatives more producing power could lead to ever more relevant stories, while Navarro remarked that at this crossroads, European creatives need to insist on independence and freedom in order to defend their place against US platforms and their more conservative outlook. Piel argued that there is a risk of lower-quality ideas owing to the time required to create great series, but also that co-production, while perhaps being more challenging than national production, may be more rewarding since it encourages a diversity of voices. Drouaire summed up by defending the need for writers to stay bold in this effervescent landscape.
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