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Berlinale 2024 – EFM

Dossier industrie: Tendance du marché

Alvaro Carmona, Greg Davies et Teodora Markova discutent d'aller plus loin pour aimanter le public partout dans le monde


BERLINALE 2024 : Cette table ronde organisée dans le cadre du Berlinale Series Market s'est concentrée sur les exemples de The Cleaner, Déjate ver et Soviet Jeans

Alvaro Carmona, Greg Davies et Teodora Markova discutent d'aller plus loin pour aimanter le public partout dans le monde
de gauche à droite: Jesse Whittock, Teodora Markova, Álvaro Carmona et Greg Davies pendant le débat

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

On 20 February, CinemaxX hosted the closing event of this year’s Berlinale Series Market, one of the main initiatives that are part of the European Film Market (15-21 February). The panel discussion, titled “Beyond the Punchline: Comedy Series” and moderated by Deadline international TV co-editor Jesse Whittock, saw the participation of showrunners Álvaro Carmona, Greg Davies and Teodora Markova.

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In his contribution, Davies spoke extensively about his work on The Cleaner, based on the German show Der Tatortreiniger. The story revolves around Paul (played by the creator himself), a cleaning technician in charge of removing any signs of death, injury or other biohazard debris from crime scenes. Characterised by a “chamber-play format”, the writer-comedian defined the original series as “genuinely hilarious”. He was particularly intrigued by its premise, its theatricality and its anthological structure. Now writing his third season and gradually moving away from the German storyline, Davies highlighted how the core of the show is very much based “on the cleaner interacting with unusual characters” along the way.

On the topic of guest stars, he said that his approach is very flexible and open to the actors’ inputs. “However, we think of specific people less and less [when it comes to writing these parts], hoping someone good comes to them,” he further explained. While adapting the German show for the BBC One audience, Davies focused on recreating “funny situations”, rather than on replicating or translating the puns.

Meanwhile, Carmona delved into the writing of Show Yourself. The dramedy series zooms in on Ana (Macarena Sanz), a young woman who runs a conceptual art studio “à la Damien Hirst” and literally begins to disappear.

Casting an actress who could portray Ana’s sweet personality and creating a set of characters that could serve as a contrast to her naiveté have been of crucial importance, Carmona underscored. “The script should already be fun in itself. We don’t look for actors who can improve it, but rather for those who cannot ruin it,” he added, half-serious. He also touched on the issue of subtitling, which often ends up “butchering jokes”, but the damage from this can be limited if it is done with proper care “and not just by a machine”.

When he writes, Carmona prefers “to keep comedy out of his mind”. His true inspiration comes from the way he interacts with people, and by observing everyday reality, he feels confident that “the comedy is going to be there”.

Later, Markova spoke about the series Soviet Jeans [+lire aussi :
fiche série
, penned with two writers “from a post-Socialist background” – Latvia’s Stanislavs Tokalovs and Poland’s Waldemar Kalinowski. Set in the late 1970s in Soviet Latvia, it follows Renārs, who kicks off an illegal business producing jeans while dealing with Māris, a mediocre KGB agent (see the news).

Markova described the conflict between the pair as something that goes beyond the storyline and is more of a “clash of ideologies”. She explained how the story is deeply grounded in the historical context but aims to intercept a wider audience. “The theme of [dealing with an] oppressive system is something everybody can relate to. Everyone knows oppressive models like families, institutions or social groups. [...] My personal taste in humour is based on drama and important subjects, and I find a way to twist them,” she added. Speaking about her co-operation with the other two writers, she said they shared “the same trauma”, and when a joke was funny for all them, they’d be keen to include it in the script.

Towards the end of the talk, Whittock asked the panellists to share their take on today’s growing political correctness in comedy and their potential “fear of upsetting a huge number of people”.

“Coming from Eastern Europe, I think cancel culture isn’t in our countries yet. We’ve got the opposite problem: everyone is too offensive,” Markova said.

Carmona added: “Maybe I’m a little naïve, but if your character is offensive, they’ll say offensive things. If you write a character with honesty, would you write a good character even if that person is bad? I don’t think people would get offended because these people exist and you’d have just written one of them.”

Davies agreed with Carmona and summed up: “There’s a way to joke about everything. For as long as humour has existed, it’s been a way of dealing with awful things. We should be very careful about restricting what we’re allowed to joke about. And in terms of being ‘cancelled’, if you write from a place that doesn’t involve hatred, you’re pretty safe.”

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