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INDUSTRIE / MARCHÉ Allemagne / Finlande

Seriencamp tourne les projecteurs vers les showrunners européens

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- À Cologne, le producteur finlandais Miikko Oikkonen a parlé de l'importance croissante du système des showrunners pour les séries européennes

Seriencamp tourne les projecteurs vers les showrunners européens
Un moment du débat

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

At this year’s Seriencamp (5-8 June) in Cologne, a panel was held in collaboration with the Creative Europe – MEDIA-funded European Showrunner Programme. Through different international events and panels, this think tank intended for industry professionals involved in the production of series aims to redefine the showrunner model established in the USA from a European perspective. Via case studies, it is possible to identify procedures that can, and must, be adapted to the European production system.

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In Cologne, Miikko Oikkonen from Finland was asked to tell the audience about his experience. The writer-director has worked as a “classical” producer of films and series throughout his career, before series projects became more extensive and the role of the producer also expanded and changed as a result. He told those present how the job description of a showrunner is still something that has not been precisely defined in Finland. Oikkonen has been in charge of projects like the fantasy series Nymphs (2014), the acclaimed Nordic noir show Bordertown (2016–2020) and the ongoing political thriller series Helsinki Syndrome (since 2022 – see the news).

He is also the writer and showrunner of the series Estonia (2023), which is based on a real-life event. In 1994, a terrible shipwreck traumatised Finland. A ferry sank in the Baltic Sea, claiming almost 1,000 lives. Extensive investigations began to determine the causes of the accident. For many of those involved, these were difficult confrontations with traumatic events. The series tries to reconstruct this psychological level of the story, but it was also a challenge in terms of the special effects required.

To date, Estonia is the most expensive series produced in Finland, Oikkonen explained. The original budget was €15 million, but because of inflation in recent years, it rose to €16 million for the eight episodes in total. “We started with broadcasters in Finland, then looked for co-production partners in Sweden and Estonia first, since they are the ones historically involved and therefore interested in the story told by the series,” he said. With Belgium and Germany joining later on, two further partners got on board, and it was very important for the budget for them to be able to use all of the incentives at their disposal. As the showrunner on the project, Oikkonen was in charge of securing the financing, and he managed to amass 100% of it before the production started. In this role, the main responsibility lies in the decisions concerning how to spend the money. Incidentally, Oikkonen said, he learned the requirements on the job. No one had even heard about the process of making a show with a showrunner in Finland when he first started with more ambitious projects. It was quite a novelty, but he had already directed and made successful works by that time, and kept going from there.

He was also the head of a writers’ room with four main scribes at first, and this was then opened up to two more, including one each from Sweden and Estonia. “We wanted to have different points of view on the story. There was so much real material that we needed to go through, so we had historians from the three countries to put it together for us.” After a first and second version of the script, Oikkonen took over as the head writer. He also had the final say in the editing room after everyone had attended various editing conferences together. Furthermore, it was important to have editors, in this case from the UK or from elsewhere, who didn’t know the original story, and thus gauge how they understood it.

As a showrunner, he made sure that shooting went smoothly. The series was shot in six different countries over a total of seven months. Oikkonen was present mostly in pre-production and whenever obstacles cropped up. One of the most challenging things was to find a ship that could be used as one of the core settings.

Summing up, Oikkonen said that it is important for financiers to understand what the job of a showrunner really is and what the benefits of it are if there is only one person to do the job. With the changes in the series production industry occurring at present, Oikkonen believes that European series production will only be able to survive if a showrunner system is in place.

(L'article continue plus bas - Inf. publicitaire)

(Traduit de l'anglais)

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