Status on the very last MIPTV in Cannes

19. April 2024
Status on the very last MIPTV in Cannes

REinvent Studios Sales and Marketing Director Helene Aurø says goodbye to MIPTV in Cannes by sharing her views on the international market and the strength of Nordic series today.

Q&A with the successful and experienced player in the international TV markets, Helene Aurø:

What is your reflection on this year’s MIPTV and Canneseries?

MIPTV is a market, and Canneseries is a festival and competition. These are two separate events running parallel in Cannes.

MIPTV has become smaller and smaller, and this year there were not that many people attending. This was their last year in Cannes, and the people behind the event are launching the new MIPTV LONDON in February 2025. It’s sad to bid farewell to MIPTV. Everybody in the TV industry has been going there for so many years. It has been a very important market for us, as a spring launch platform where we do all our dealings with new series.

So how do you regard the position of Nordic drama this year?

Nordic series still have a very strong position in the market. The number of Nordic series selected for competition in Canneseries was five, which is impressive, and a huge honour. It has become a very important festival.

Looking at the MIPTV market, there’s still a high demand for good quality series. And this is what Nordic series offer: Top quality – good stories. The budgets may not be the biggest, but the stories are still really good and well told, and we are strong in the market.

So, are the prices up?

The market was slow at the end of ‘23. We feel it’s picking up again, for both feature films and TV series, although it’s still slightly down, and there’s less money at the moment. Actually, a number of buyers do not purchase that much these days, not having decided on their precise strategies. So we’re waiting for everyone to find their feet again. There is a lot of content in the market, and consequently a lot of competition.

What format is the most sought after?

Six-episode crime series is often a good format. When you sell to streamers, it is not that important. But we have experienced that some broadcasters need the episodes two by two, in which case you need either four, six or eight episodes. I think six is the best number now, but it varies with the kind of show, depending on whether it’s a drama series, a crime series, or a young adult series. The length and the number of episodes and seasons may also differ a whole lot, depending on genres.

Is it still “serialised” that counts, or is episodic “stand alone” coming back?

Our series on the market right now are serialised. I would really like to have some more episodic series, with a closed case in one or two episodes. But we don’t have too many of that kind of series at the moment.

Do the buyers prefer series with an optional second season, or is stand-alone mini-series, like most true crime, still strong in the market?

If there will be a second season, you should make sure you don’t put in a strong cliffhanger at the end of season one. Because if the first season doesn’t work, it’s going to be impossible to sell the second one. One close-end story in six episodes works well. But what buyers are looking for, differs a whole lot from country to country. Some prefer several seasons, some don’t. They want one season, and that’s it. It really depends on which country we’re talking about.

Germany has been a strong partner for Nordic drama for many years. But do you see a tendency that Nordic creators and producers could start working more closely with other European countries as well?

We work with a lot of countries. But Germany is a strong partner. If you have a big gap in your finance plan, you need a country like Germany or the US, or perhaps also France.

What are the elements you need to have in place before you go to market with a project?

What matters the most is that you like the people you have to work with, and of course you need a good pitch bible and a script. When it comes to TV, the team is key: Writer, creator, producer and director. When we’re talking feature films, it’s a different matter; in that case the director is pivotal to their success. But all elements are important. Of course, it’s still helpful to have a well-known director and also a good cast. This will always make things easier. But if you don’t, there’s no crisis. I mean, a lot of the series that we distribute do not boast a renowned cast and crew, but of course it helps.

There’s been talk about more co-production for TV drama. Do you see that trending?

Yes, we often have to do a lot of windowing, and it gets more and more complicated. We approach various broadcasters, and we also work with streamers, and then we do windowing. Maybe a short period window, or we give somebody three months or six months. Buyers seem to be much more flexible that way these days. This is necessary when it comes to funding, but also in order to make some really good sales. You need to organise things really well. We see a lot of goodwill when trying to get the financing done.

How much do you need to have in place from your home market, to be able to go to market with a new project?

It depends on the show and the people you work with. You need a pitch bible, a season outline, and episode descriptions as well as a script. Maybe you have made a pilot teaser to put out. That’s also what we ask for when people approach us. But we will also look at projects at a very early stage. And if it’s based on an IP, we could always read the IP as well. But normally we need a pitch bible. If we already know the director and the cast, that’s a plus, of course.

We like to look at all kinds of shows, but those that sell best at the moment are crime series. They come in many shapes and sizes, not necessarily only police series. But there’s still a really good market for disaster series, big action thrillers, and psychological thrillers. And we are looking out for those. But we are also looking for excellent dramas, good stories, and drama series. I mean, we represented last year’s winner in Canneseries, Power Play (Makta) – the kind of story we will always be looking for. In general, Nordic series are very valuable, and have a good international reputation.

What about mixed genres, docu-dramas and true crime and formats?

There is some sort of demand, and we have this in mind. There is also a market for remakes of a number of our series. And currently, with little capital in the market, everybody has to think of other ways of getting the content made. To mix dramatised elements and documentary elements, in this kind of hybrid genre, you have to be very careful not to confuse buyers and viewers. Is this documentary or fiction? Where do you air it, or where do you stream it?

You have to be very specific and clear in what you want to sell. If you have a series that is a mix of everything, then where do you pigeonhole it? In your crime category or your drama category? I mean, that’s when it becomes difficult.

MIPTV this year, what has been a big success for you?

We had two series in competition at Canneseries: Danish Dark Horse aired on TV 2 Denmark, and the Swedish Painkilleron SVT. When you have shows in competition, there is a strong focus on them. We also presented the Danish Oxen (by top creators Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe), which was shown on TV 2 Denmark, and the Norwegian young adult series Hybris, aired on NRK, which also received a lot of attention at the market. From Finland we brought the disaster drama series Seconds (Sekunnit), airing right now on YLE, written by top writer Laura Suhonen (Hooked (Koukussa),2015). Another Finnish series was the four-part psychological thriller The Girl Who Disappeared (Nainen joka katosi), airing on MTV. Yet another Finnish entry was a brand new series called L/over, produced by Gutsy Animation for MTV.

Can you reveal any interesting sales yet?

It was a small market, but we have some interesting negotiations going on, that much I can tell you. And the producers seem to be happy. We feel that the energy is picking up, and I supppose we all just have to believe this trend will continue, and keep working to make this happen.

What is your next market?

The next big thing for us is Cannes Film Festival. After that, there is the Scandinavian Screening, which we attend every second year. In 2024, it will take place in Copenhagen the week after Cannes. This market is for VIP buyers from various countries around the world, and a very exclusive one.

Read the interview here.

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