Festival In Focus: Series Mania Forum Looks To The Future

Beyond the festival element of Series Mania, one major draw for international industry professionals is its industry strand, Series Mania Forum, which runs from March 21-23. The popular event, which largely centers around its Co-Pro Pitching Sessions, panels and conferences, nicely wraps up with its Lille Dialogues one-day summit on March 23. 

This year, the Forum is expecting delegates from Europe, North America, South America and Asia to touch down with a number of top industry execs set to speak. Notably, HBO’s Casey Bloys, will be doing an In Conversation keynote speech during the Lille Dialogues titled ‘How HBO and HBO Max Are Diving into The Future.” 

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The theme for this year’s Lille Dialogues is ‘Shaping the Future with the Audiovisual Sector’ and additional speakers at the summit include: Beta Group’s Jan Mojto; Prime Video’s James Farrell; Sky Studios’ Cécile Frot-Coutaz; and an In Conversation with TF1’s Rodolphe Belmer. (Belmer is the former President of Series Mania, who was replaced this year by Anne Bouverot).

“We want to address the bigger issues about the industry as a whole and the challenges in the media and how to adapt,” says Series Mania Forum head Francesco Capurro, who notes this is a strand of the event that keeps getting bigger and bigger. “It’s great that we continue to be able to attract some of the most important names in the business to come and speak each year.” 

The Forum’s popular Co-Pro Pitching Sessions will continue to lure in industry professionals as well. This year, Series Mania received 460 applications from 66 countries, of which 15 were selected to get a chance to pitch their projects in front of a panel of potential financiers: broadcasters, distributors, producers as well as public and private funds. 

“We have had more and more projects from outside Europe,” says Capurro. “And an increasing number from Africa such as Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal, which is very encouraging, as well as from other major markets like Canada, Turkey and Taiwan.” 

Projects include a fiction series dubbed Asma, which is a biopic of Syrian dictator Asma Al Assad, war project Unspoken, which chronicles a man who drives from Poland to Kiev to save his wife and children at the start of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, and a coming-of-age drama about the Bronte sisters from The Fall exec Patrick Irwin. 

This year, Series Mania has received a record number of industry applications but, says Series Mania general director Laurence Herszberg, the festival is capping the number at 3,800 attendees. “I want people to enjoy it and make the most of their time here,” she says. “I don’t want it to feel overwhelming.” 

For her, it’s important to keep a somewhat intimate event where delegates can meet people freely. “I want people to come because they know that Series Mania can be a place where they can feel they are a step forward.”

Capurro agrees, adding, “We want to keep it cool. I think with the Forum being a part of the festival adds something to this atmosphere and also, because we are focused on the development side of things, lots of producers and screenwriters attend the event.” Many of these attendees, he notes, are also from the Series Mania Institute, a school which offers writers residencies and classes throughout the year and is solely focused on writing for series. 

“People make good connections here,” says Herszberg. “We’re not a market and we don’t close our business lounge, so we are open to everyone. I think the reason for our success, if I have to analyze it, is that we are open to any idea and needs from the industry. And sometimes we understand, just by listening to our delegates, how we can be a part of the solution.” 

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