Previously at Seriencamp Conference 2021

On November 10th the face-to-face part of Seriencamp Conference returned after the hiatus of 2020. While last year brought a series of talks, discussions and case studies in form of a digital edition of the industry event, 2021 was the first step in returning to old form.

Watch & Listen – Best Practices for Transmedia Storytelling between TV series, Podcast and Audiodrama

Over the course of one day a wide array of topics have been explored – all of them centering around the questions: How will serial storytelling look like in the future? What kind of stories will be told? And what is needed to reach audiences in a marketplace where content in a myriad of forms is over-abundant?  

Maren Knieling, producer from Bavaria Fiction and Timothée Hochet, creator of the French series Calls that has been adapted for Apple TV+ (Calls Trailer) , gave insights, in what it means to tell stories that cross borders between series and audiodrama. The series 3 Frauen, 1 Auto (stream it here) for Bayerischer Rundfunk takes a minimalistic premise of three very different women commuting in a carshare to work, to spin its stories as short form series for TV and mini-audiodramas for radio. If extending formats from television into another media to find new connecting points with audience, adapting to the respective storytelling idiosyncrasies is key. Calls on the other hand takes a radical turn: Finding the strength of dialogue, sound effects and sparse visual effects to create eerie short form stories. A daunting process as creator Timothée Hochet points out.  

Screens and Stages – The Rise of Virtual Production and the Future of Productions

The panel „Screens & Stages“ took a deep look at the current development of virtual productions and mixed media stages: What does the revolution in terms of visual effects mean for the work of writers, producers and directors? And will only big budget-productions like Disney’s The Mandalorian or Netflix’s 1899 profit from the technological advances? Stefan Söllner from Arri and Thomas Ganshorn from Eyeline Studios work together at creating BaViPro at Bavaria Studios – a virtual productions stage that will be used to help create new workflows, connect existing and upcoming technologies with each other and explore scalability. Talking about the technological arms race between production sites and studios, the democratization and new versatility of special effects and the impact on workflows on set, both panelists gave an insightful overview of the impact of the new technology. In the light of the recent news of Unity’s acquisition of WETA (read the Artical here), only the first glance into a future where filmmaking, virtual reality, visual effects and games technology will intersect strongly, as Thomas Ganshorn stressed.  

Focus on South-East Europe

While the way movies and series are produced will be changing rapidly under the advance of new technologies, it still matters what kind of stories we tell and for which audience. A fact that Nebosja Taraba (producer, Drugi Plan) and Uros Tomoic (writer & director of Grupa (Seriencamp Watchroom Grupa)) and the ward winning Awake) stressed when sharing their insights into production landscapes of Croatia and Serbia. The focus on high-end series with international appeal has borne fruits in Croatia where series like Drugi Plan’s The Paper (watch it here) and The Last Socialist Artefact (Seriencamp Watchrrom The Last Socialist Artefact) broke new ground in terms of quality; a fact underlined by international co-productions like The Silence that was pitched at Seriencamp Conference in 2019. In Serbia on the other hand a phenomenon called hyperproduction, whose specific causes are socio-political, has been responsible for a frenzy of activity: 32 new series productions (excluding soaps and sitcoms) in under a year brings production capacities to their limits while the series themselves don’t seem to travel well outside the region of origin, as both panelists pointed out. Yet finding common ground will be crucial in unlocking the full potential of the region through co-productions.  

Influence Me! – How to Catch an Audience’s Attention in 2022

Series like Stichtag (Joyn Stichtag), one of the audience favorites of last year’s Seriencamp Watchroom and Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming Sex Zimmer Küche Bad (read the artical here) are just two examples of German series that cast social media influencers. Clare Thompson from K7 Media gave international context by presenting formats from around the world that rely on the drawing strength of influencers. While younger audiences drift away from linear television and divide their screen time between streamed audiovisual entertainment like games and social media, they are interested in programs featuring internet personalities and influencers. Formats like SZKB or the Twitch Channel of Prime Video are first forays into a field where storytelling, social media and interaction intersect and where Amazon Prime Video experiments with new ideas to add attractivity for younger audiences, as Dr. Christoph Schneider (Managing Director, Amazon Prime Video) points out. The importance of creating a range of content for younger audiences to explore is stressed by Thomas Münzner (Director Content Acquisition & Original Production, Joyn): To connect outside the platform where viewers are spending their time is as essential as offering further program options to continue watching after bringing them to the platform.  

Quo Vadis Europa? – Local Productions in a Global Media Landscape

The role of German and European productions in a global media landscape was discussed by Jane Millichip (Sky Studios), Jan Frouman (Telepool) and Marcus Ammon (Bavaria Studios). Sky will expand productions to create valued high-end series for their subscribers while aiming to be a bundling service as Jane Millichip pointed out. Jan Frouman explained the central role Telepool will play as German arm of Will Smith’s Westbrook Inc. by drawing talent in early development, financing and production stages. Marcus Ammon clearly stated his goal to impact Bavaria Studios’ future by „rolling out the red carpet“ for talent in order to create content that competes on an international level. All three panelists agreed that the competition for market shares is just stating and that the creation of bold, stand-out and high-quality original content is essential to make an impact in a crowded media landscape. To develop long-lasting relationships with creators and producers is paramount, as Jan Frouman pointed out.   

Work in Progress

The Work In Progress-section, hosted by Thomas Lückerath by, had a record number of seven projects from Germany that will air between December 2021 and Summer 2022. The visually distinct Euer Ehren (Your Honor) , based on the Israelis hit series Kvodo and presented by Al Munteanu (Square One), showed the strengths of creating format adaptations that are strongly rooted in a local setting. The series will air on ARD in 2022 

Comedian, author and radio host Sophie Passmann unveiled Amazon Prime Video’s dramedy series Damaged Goods about a group of friends in their mid-twenties. Passmann will take the lead role and spoke enthusiastically about her involvement in the project. Actress Mercedes Müller and producer Mischa Hofmann presented the enticing mix of tense historical spy thriller and gripping family drama Bonn which will follow the true story of the birth of Germany’s secret service in the Fifties and the role ex-Nazis had in its creation. Odeon Fiction is producing the series for ARD. 

Showrunners Vitus Reinbold and Niolaus Schulz-Dornburg unveiled, together with editor Caro Biesenbach, a new teaser for KITZ which will air on Netflix December 30th – A young woman infiltrates the social sphere of the rich and famous that come each year to Austrian ski resort Kitzbühl. Her goal: To uncover the ugly truth bethind a tragic event that affected her family. Producers Lucia Vogdt and Malte Can presented an exclusive first clip from Sky Germany’s atmospheric and visually stunning mystery series Souls about a young teenager who is convinced that he remembers his past live as the pilot of a plane that crashed under tragic circumstances.  

Der Überfall (The Heist) from UFA Fiction for ZDF follows the intersecting lives of six individuals connected through a fateful robbery of a small corner shop. Actress Lorna Ishema and UFA Fiction CEO Benjamin Benedict talked about the challenges of creating the daunting crime drama. Last but certainly not least creator, writer and actor David Helmut, producer Simon Amberger and Vanessa Kloth (RTL Germany) presented the comedy series Wrong: A group of friends has to participate in a reality format after signing a dubious deal. The combination of dark humor, ad-libbed dialogs and a fresh take on the mockumentary format, promises a big comedy highlight for the coming year.