Series Mania Underway in Lille


Some 3,600 participants from more than 60 countries have gathered in Lille for Series Mania.

Producers, along with programming, marketing and distribution executives, have come to pitch projects, discuss partnerships, initiate or further co-productions and find ways to navigate the constantly evolving content business.

Top of mind for most participants is the rising costs of production. As one producer explained, during the past few years, as the volume of production increased, so did salaries—for everyone from actors to writers, producers to crews. This surge has slowed down, but talent and crews don’t want their salaries decreased, especially not as they deal with rising inflation.

Inflation has, of course, driven all costs up: transportation, hotels, shooting facilities and locations.

Even tax incentives are being viewed differently. One Swedish producer said he used to find attractive incentives in certain European countries—but these countries have now been hit by higher inflation rates than Sweden, so it may be most cost-efficient to shoot at home.

Higher costs across the board are fueling the need for jointly financed and produced shows, with every project having a tailor-made financing model.

Challenges often spur creativity, as the industry recently learned during the pandemic. Several executives are hopeful budgetary constrictions will spark more creative ways of producing, from more use of natural light when shooting scripted to a centralized hub model for unscripted (one set that various countries use to produce their version of a show).

As the global streamers—Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, among others—are reducing their production budgets, major international production companies are looking for opportunities to collaborate—and hoping for greater flexibility in sharing rights.

And as the global streamers rethink their strategies, focusing more on profits than subscriber growth, many producers are seeing opportunities for major linear broadcasters to become partners in projects.

Another topic being discussed in Lille is discoverability—making shows stand out from the clutter and helping viewers find them. Several marketing executives are present. Last November, Series Mania announced it would start an annual Creative Campaign Award, given to a series’ promotion strategy. The winner this year was Doctor Who: Flux from BBC Studios, while Lupin from Netflix received A Jury Special Mention.

Last but not least, the real world is ever-present in the halls of the Grand Palais in Lille. The Ukraine/Poland war thriller drama Unspoken won this year’s Co-Pro Pitching Sessions and the €50,000 prize. And given the current state of unrest in France due to protests and train strikes against President Macron raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, nearly every conversation includes, “How are you getting home?” Many have changed their travel plans, taking car services to Brussels and traveling from there. But the conversations and collaborations continue here at Series Mania.