CANNES - It is not often that the top decisionmakers in the business of media gather together in one room but each year, the crème de la crème of the drama co-production world do just that at the MIPTV International Drama Co-Production Summit.
Organized by Reed MIDEM, the fourth edition of the Summit, held this year at the Carlton Tuesday April 14, brought together more than 80 of the top dealmakers, creatives and senior executives for what has become an annual no nonsense, no borders, no barriers and no limits look at the business of drama co-production. Key to the Summit's success is a closed door policy, with no press invited, and a guiding ambition to move beyond competition, language and territory to discuss issues and problems common to the co-production industry.
XFiles creator and Big Light Productions chief executive Frank Spotnitz has been at the Drama Summit for three of the last four years and is currently involved in a raft of projects, some co-productions, some not. One, The Man In The High Castle, just premiered on Amazon. Say Spotnitz, "You don't often find so many people who are so key to the industry all together in the same room. And the round table discussions are directly relevant to the work that all of us are doing." He adds, "Although to some degree we are competing with each other, in a larger sense we are all helping to build a stronger industry and events like these remind us of our common purpose."
Speakers this year were also a line-up of the top visionaries and thinkers on the creative and business sides of the drama corridor. They included Morgan Wandell, head of drama development for Amazon Studios; John Young, directing manager of Canada's Temple Street Productions; Sally Wainwright, creator, writer, director and executive producer of Happy Valley; Teresa Fernandez-Valdes, showrunner for The Refugees, Velvet and Grand Hotel; Anna Winger, writer and co-creator of Deutschland 83, Dirk Hoogstra, executive vice president and general manager of History and H2, and Sky Head of Drama Anne Mensah.
A top veteran of the industry, BBCWW Executive Producer International Drama Ben Donald has been has been at the Summit since it's very beginning. What worked this year for him? Said Donald, "I particularly liked the focus on Sally Wainwright and her discussion of how hyper-local can travel as much as so-called international drama. Audiences know and like authenticity. This concept that one can be hyper-local and still be international countermands the reflex, possibly too automatic now, that something should be a co-production if it is to be international."
Also a veteran of the Summit, Rola Bauer is partner and CEO of STUDIOCANAL'S Tandem Productions, the company behind Spotless and Crossing Lines, among a raft of other productions. Says Bauer, "The Drama Co-production Summit is a wonderful venue to help us stay on top of the trends as well as be able to perceive what’s on the horizon. It is also a great opportunity to connect with and support our peers, creative executives and industry leaders, to compare notes, and really gather more insight into what’s happening in the global television market.’
Nacho Manubens is senior vice president of Spain's Atresmedia Television and one of the guiding lights responsible for putting The Refugees co-production with the BBCWW together. Says Manubens, "I have been attending this summit since it started. I like to come here to discuss with my colleagues what they are up to and the changes the market has been experiencing during the last months. At the round table discussions you always get some ideas of what can or perhaps cannot work on certain projects."
France's Haut et Court is behind a pack of high level productions, among them Les Revenants (The Returned), The Last Panthers, and in development, English language eco thriller Rubber Ducks and Jerusalem. Says Haut et Court producer Jimmy Desmarais, also a regular Summit attendee, "This year's edition has proven that, given appetite, imagination and opportunity, it is possible for the best stories to cross all borders to reach audiences."
Dariusz Jablonski, CEO of Apple Film Production, whose credits include Under Electric Clouds, The Passing Bells, and Spies of Warsaw, among others, was at the Summit for the third year in a row. Said Jablonski, "As drama becomes more global, content creators are being pushed to not only be creative but also to move away from the domination of Anglo Saxon content. There are now, more than ever before, opportunities for shows that have originated in Poland to become successful internationally." He's currently working with Swedish production outfit Tre Vanner on the Sebastian Bergman crime series as well as a 13-episode TV series The Spring Is Ours with Polish commercial broadcaster TVP. That series will be launched online worldwide and in six languages.
What's the secret to the success of the Drama Summit, which is now moving toward celebrating its fifth birthday next year? Says MIPTV Conference Director Lucy Smith, "The Summit has been growing in a very organic way and the delegates who attend feel part of the organizing process. They are constantly giving us feedback and telling us what they want and need--and we try to give it to them. Clearly, it's useful as these are all people at the top of their industry who have taken time out of their busy schedules to spend a morning and part of the afternoon at this annual meeting. And we've already heard from many that they will be back again next year."
Top left: Big Light Productions Chief Executive Frank Spotnitz
Middle right: BBCWW Executive Producer Of International Drama
Middle left: Tandem Productions Partner/CEO Rola Bauer