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SERIES MANIA 2024 Series Mania Forum

Francesco Capurro • Director, Series Mania Forum

"There is a sort of convergence between the art of cinema and the art of the series"


- The head of the Series Mania Festival’s professional days, taking place in Lille from 19 to 21 March, discusses the current state of the series industry

Francesco Capurro • Director, Series Mania Forum
(© Chloé Leclercq)

We met with Francesco Capurro, director of the Series Mania Forum (from 19 to 21 March 2024 - read the news), the professional sidebar of the 14th Series Mania Festival (which began last Friday in Lille – read the article).

Cineuropa: How is this new edition of the Series Mania Forum shaping up? What trends did you notice among the projects you’ve received?
Francesco Capurro: For the first time, we will cross the threshold of 4,000 participants. We can feel a lot of anticipation for an event that is more global than ever, with delegations from Taiwan, South Korea, Brasil, South Africa, Canada, etc, really from all over the world, including of course from European countries. This edition is therefore looking very promising, both in terms of quantity and of quality, thanks to the presence of all the big companies, among them Netflix, HBO Max, Movistar Plus+, BBC Studios, Sony, etc.

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We received more than 400 projects for the Co-Pro Pitching Sessions. Regarding editorial trends, thriller and crime remain the most predominant genres in fiction, but there are many variations within them, with growing attention paid to stories based on real events, which the viewers can no doubt identify with more easily. There are also many stories that look back at the recent past, from post-WWII to the current day, and which often represent an indirect way of talking about our present. Many preoccupations from contemporary society, such as the environment, also find themselves addressed in the projects, of course, though in a generally negative way: they’re often linked to catastrophe, to doomsday stories, but this also serves to raise questions that concern us all today. Series reflect the world we live in. 

Kaouther Ben Hania, Kevin Macdonald, Barbara Albert, Mijke de Jong, Yorgos Zois, etc.: the second edition of SERIESMAKERS (read the news) confirms that a growing number of well-known filmmakers want to work in series. 
We are surprised ourselves by the calibre of the filmmakers wanting to take part. Very experienced filmmakers, who have been awarded in big festivals, want to participate in this training workshop. It proves that, alongside Beta Group, we have found a good format, and that there really is a demand for help and support for the transition from cinema to series. Although there are common qualities in terms of narration, cinema and series are not exactly the same thing, neither artistically nor industrially, and the role of the director isn’t as central in series as it is in cinema. But cinema and series are not opposites: today, producers and talent want to try both. And from an artistic point of view, there is a sort of convergence between the art of cinema and the art of the series (which are getting shorter and shorter): the border between them isn’t as sharp as it used to be. 

The abundance of projects seems to take place in a slightly more tense context, with buyers getting more selective (read the article and the news).
It’s true that, after ten years of what was called the golden age of TV, there is a slight deceleration of investment, notably from streamers. I believe it’s a temporary adjustment. There might have been some excesses, with a multiplication of productions and of distribution channels: the audience couldn’t follow such a pace. I don’t think that this adjustment is dramatic in the long term, because series remain a genre that is beloved by audiences, as is shown by studies conducted around fiction series in Europe. Moreover, a positive aspect of this slow-down is that we can hope for more quality over quantity; things were moving a little too fast these past few years, with shows produced almost on the assembly line. 

On 21 March, the Lille Dialogues will focus on a very hot topic: generative AI (Artificial Intelligence).
It’s an unavoidable topic, a revolution so important that it cannot be ignored. Some questions, such as copyrights, need to be addressed urgently, because we can well see that even with publicly available tools such as ChatGPT, it’s very easy to copy, to imitate, or even to create a story. We very quickly need to establish some rules, some laws, to regulate its uses (read the news). Long term implications are more difficult to imagine. For the moment, generative AI does not replace human creativity, it’s more like a tool that can allow producers and screenwriters to save time, money, etc., but it still needs to be powered, guided, and corrected by the human mind. In a few years, however, I don’t know; only “deep learning” scientists and experts could enlighten us. The Lille Dialogues will explore both the threats and the opportunities that this technology creates. We haven’t yet seen the end of that discussion, this is only the beginning. 

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(Translated from French)

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