This summer’s digital/in-person hybrid-format Series Mania Forum brought together 2,500 industry professionals, with a vast majority making the trip to Lille for the in-person event. The Forum’s Director, Francesco Capurro, discusses the new structure of this year’s event along with its highlights and surprises.
Industry maintains its mania for series in Lille
UniFrance: Despite the unusual context, Series Mania Forum went ahead in Lille this year. What challenges did you face with this particular edition?
Francesco Capurro:For this hybrid edition, we had a major challenge – the risk of it being cancelled, which waspresent right up to the last minute. We chose to postpone the festival several times as we felt it essential to do an in-person event to enable industry professionals to meet face to face. The end of the summer seemed the perfect time, as after that it would have been too late. The Forum fully respected all the health protocols in place, and participants were happy to follow the rules if it meant they could see each other again. Indeed, the whole profession was delighted to get together again.
UniFrance: How did you create the hybrid format?
Francesco Capurro We based it on what we did for the previous edition, re-working the 2020 platform. Our objective was to provide a digital platform that was an addition to the in-person offering rather than an alternative. All the conferences were available on the platform live and as replay, which allowed people to screen them on demand. Foreign buyers that couldn’t travel were able to participate online in order to follow pitching and coming next sessions and also to have meetings with other participants. We wanted the platform to be lively and fun, which is why we launched WebTV which was very active during the Forum. It allowed people to follow the highlights of each day and access exclusive content with previously unseen speaker interviews.
UniFrance: And the participants came!
Francesco Capurro Indeed! 2,500 professionals signed up for the Forum this year, including 2,100 in person in Lille! That’s quite a feat given the difficulty of organizing an event of this size in person with the constraints imposed due to the pandemic. We had participants from 50 different countries just for the in-person part, which proves that professionals the world over were keen to meet up again.
UniFrance: As well as your figures, the quality of the speakers and their conferences was remarkable.
Francesco Capurro The quality of the speakers this year surpassed our expectations. The industry’s major players, such as Netflix, HBO and Disney, were not just present at the Forum, they also made exclusive announcements during the event. Four culture ministers attended – those of France, Portugal, Estonia and Belgium, as well as Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner in charge of internal markets, industrial politics, tourism, digital, audiovisual, defense and space. All that placed the Forum among the great French festivals and made this international meet-up for the series industry a key date for its professionals.
UniFrance: What about Coming Next from France?
Francesco Capurro This year it was a Special Formats edition, which was a big success. Coming Next from France, held in partnership with the TV division of UniFrance, is a meet-up where international buyers can discover the best French content. The room was packed and we have had great feedback from participants.
UniFrance: The Séries Mania Forum is where series are born…
Francesco Capurro The Forum’s objective has always been to support the creation of series. The Co-Pro Pitching sessions are the event’s key draw, with 15 series in development pitched by their producers. The winner is awarded prize money of €50,000 by a professional jury, so the Forum actively participates in the development of content. We had some lovely surprises this year with series that came though the Forum and were later produced going on to win prizes at the festival, for example Blackport and The Last Socialist Arterfact; Jérusalem was selected for the international competition. It is with this goal of supporting fiction in mind that we launched the Creative Bazaar, a project incubator for the series of the future, in order to discover and train a new generation of screenwriters. The three writing residencies: the UGC Writers’ Campus, organized in partnership with UGC Séries, as well as the Cowriting Residency Israël-France and the DEENTAL Series Workshop, both in partnership with the French National Center for Cinematography (CNC), were placed under the same roof as other Forum workshops in order to encourage exchanges among screenwriters and other experienced professionals.
UniFrance: Will we be meeting again next year?
Francesco Capurro Yes: we hope we’ll see lots of you at the usual time. The Forum will be held from March 22 to 24, and the Festival will take place from March 18 to 25, 2022!