Series Mania, CPH:DOX find online solutions to fight coronavirus

17 MARCH 2020

Laurence Herszberg / PHOTO: Series Mania

Business 'almost' as usual. After CPH:DOX which runs this week in a digital version, Series Mania is to launch Series Mania Digital Forum.

Since last week, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and governments gradual lock down of public spaces, most film & TV events scheduled to take place over the upcoming few weeks have been forced either to cancel or postpone their dates. Some events however have already been able to rapidly morph from a physical to a digital form such as Scandinavia’s leading documentary festival CPH:DOX (March 18-29) and its sidebar industry event CPH:FORUM (March 24-26). 

Thanks to a collaboration with Festival Scope, Danish-based festival delegates and audiences can still view 40 of the selected documentaries against a €6 fee-per-title, and films part of the six competition strands, will be judged online by the appointed juries. Similarly CPH:CONFERENCE and CPH:LAB will be carried out digitally to a great extent, and thanks to a virtual space created via the Zoom platform, most projects lined up for CPH:FORUM and CPH:WIP will be pitched as scheduled to the 400+ registered delegates, who also have access to the CPH:MARKET via Cinando starting this Wednesday. 
For more details on CPH:DOX: CLICK HERE 

Series Mania Digital Forum 
Meanwhile Series Mania the high-profile TV festival which was official cancelled last week, has announced today the launch of Series Mania Digital Forum (CLICK HERE) to be available to registered industry professionals from March 25-April 7, against a €90 fee. 

Speaking to nordicfilmandtvnews.com, Series Mania founder and director Laurence Herzberg explained the concept of the new online TV drama platform: “As soon as we realised we couldn't maintain the professional Forum which already had more than 2,500 people accredited, we started working on an online alternative: Series Mania Digital Forum. It will be launched at the exact same dates the Forum was supposed to take place. It will propose all the pitching sessions (more than 35 projects selected for our three mains initiatives: Copro-pitching sessions, UGC writers’ campus and the French-Israeli writing residency). We’ve contacted all our participants who will send videos pitches for 3 to 6 minutes and offered them to get in touch with our professionals registered on this new platform." 

Herzberg continues: “Moreover we'll include in this online platform of projects the ‘Buyers Showcase’, our Cinando video library gathering around 70 titles from the public festival plus some other titles specially selected for the accredited participants.”


Series Mania, CPH:DOX find online solutions to fight coronavirus

Series Mania 2019 / PHOTO: Sm

Asked why the Festival Series Mania was not also re-adjusted into a semi-digital experience, in step with CPH:DOX, Herzberg said: “According to the French regulations a few weeks ago which banned public gatherings of 1,000+ people, we tried to adjust the festival according to those rules. When we started facing many cancellations from guests or participants, it was already two weeks before the event. The public event Series Mania Festival, last year had almost 80,000 attendees in 35 venues and presented 74 series among them 25 world premieres.

"This year the figures were supposed to be the same with more than 250 guests from all over the world. Such a big event could not be postponed nor readjusted in the time frame we had. Moreover, the premieres and guests would have had to be changed quite drastically if we had decided to postpone it after the summer.”

Herzberg also said: “I think that the virtual solutions are not adapted to a public festival which is by definition a live event gathering crowds of spectators meeting the creators of the shows projected on big screens."

"Digital is really interesting to consider and develop as an alternative to the professional gatherings, but it is almost a nonsense regarding the cultural events for large audiences. A TV or cinema festival cannot become a VOD platform. Moreover, jury considering shows online cannot really debate, they can vote but not properly argue and find the right consensuses for the awards,” she added.

Green Digital Forums for the Future
Asked if she felt the digital solution could be a positive new way for the industry to do business in a more environmentally-friendly way, Herzberg said: “We really think that this digital platform is a trend to be improved and to develop alongside - or as an alternative to - the physical meeting of the professionals in the years to come.”

Other industry professionals, such as Esther van Messel, CEO at the world sales and Swiss distribution outfit First Hand Films concurs with Herzberg: “We’ve been curious and supportive of all things digital for many years now (back in 2007 we developed our first ‘transmedia’ project). So yes, we are big fans of exploring the [digital] possibilities for all the events, regardless of the virus.”

She goes on: “It seems to me that things go parallel – big Forum tables have becoming a tad heavy when the people sitting at them are less eloquent than before. The entire idea of pitching session would need content buyers to be able to stand up and ‘lean in’, so to say, and in these times, where every decision has to be okayed by a dozen people, that’s not possible anymore. That leads to a slowing down of all interaction at these pitching forums and there is room for improvement, perhaps in part with the digital spaces we now have. Nothing will replace something, but things will change, adapt, and grow – and I think that’s great.”