July 23, 2018
MIDPOINT TV Launch is getting ready to kick off its 2019 edition with a number of new and exciting additions.
MIDPOINT TV Launch 2019
Evaluating the previous history of the program and presenting its future outline is the Program Coordinator Katarina Tomkova.
Katarina’s involvement with MIDPOINT dates to 2015, when she joined the team based in Prague. As she gears up for the 5th edition of TV Launch, she has reflected on the development of the program, which has been transformed from a one-off lab into a complex 3-part workshop. She’s been working in the audiovisual industry for more than 10 years, participating at international platforms and networks in various roles. Most recently, she has also been working as a film producer and consultant.
Q: Overseeing the last four editions of the TV Launch program, how would you review its development?
The TV Launch program was established in 2015 as a one-off lab focusing on writing. It was created as a direct answer to the demand of young professionals from the countries of Central and Eastern European (CEE), with whom MIDPOINT already had a strong connection to via its Feature Launch program. After the first year, however, we came to the conclusion that to have a greater impact on the career of the participants and projects, we needed to expand the program and bring the talents from one place to another, offer continuity between the residential workshops and strengthen the workflow.
Also, we’ve identified that it’s important to offer specialized training for the independent producers within the creative teams: introduce them to the European television landscape, give them more networking opportunities, and expose them to new financing models. That is why in 2017, the 3-part residential workshop was created with a focus on projects and the creative teams consisting of writers and producers.
Q: Are there any particular success stories of TV Launch graduates that you want to mention?
Certainly! We’re extremely happy for the 2016 graduates from Hausen that have been greenlit by Sky Germany, following their successful presentation at the CoproSeries Pitching at the Berlinale’s Drama Series Days in 2017. Several of our graduate projects have also been supported by their national funds and/or the Creative Europe MEDIA program (1989, Fractures) and have participated in a number of television industry events and co-production forums (SerienCamp Co-production Sessions, CineLink Drama).
There are also individual participants that have been quite successful. The two winners of the HBO Adria First Draft competition were both MIDPOINT alumni – Marjan Alcevski and Ivan Knezevic. Our graduates have also participated in further training programs, such as CANNESERIES Institute (Andreas Kyriacou), or the Series Mania Writers Campus (Agata Koschmieder) or Serial Eyes (Harry Ayiotis, Ivan Knezevic).
Q: What are the new adjustments being made to the 2019 edition in comparison to the previous one?
The 2019 edition will mark several exciting additions to the program, two of them certainly deserving to be highlighted: first, a new specialized training for web/digital series, with which we are reacting to the European trend of targeting young audiences, and second, a new specialized training for development executives – creative personas with story editing skills, commonly known as TV dramaturgs in our region.
Q: How ready do the projects have to be to apply?
The earlier in the development process they apply, the better. Generally, the application materials that we ask for during the application process are very basic: a few pages that include a pitch, purpose, characters, and an example of a script… At Workshop 1, all participants are trained to more precisely define the concept and theme of their projects, which forms the entire shape of the project going forward. This is an essential part of the training, and in many ways it is easier to approach at the very beginning of the development process. However, projects that already have written outlines or full pilot episodes of their series are most welcome to apply, as well.
Q: What kind of applicants are you looking for in the position of the development executives?
These participants should be professionals with the aspiration of becoming executives in the development process in the region. Their background can range from writers, consultants, producers, editors… we’re very much open when it comes to this position.
We’re also welcoming junior professionals already working in the industry, looking into enhancing their skills and training opportunities. The overall goal of this training is that we would like to not only work with talents, but with a broader cross-section of the professionals involved in the development process of a television series.
Q: Do you think projects from the CEE territory have a chance to be produced and distributed internationally?
Even five years ago, the situation was a bit more difficult. To develop and produce a television series, particularly in the CEE region, was a difficult task, usually taken on by one broadcaster. However, the financing models in Europe have been changing in very dynamic ways. New co-productions are being formed, distributors are getting involved much earlier and have a creative say, and as a result there is no one or right way to produce and finance a show. Naturally, this has created new opportunities for projects coming from countries with limited markets and budgets. I like to quote producer Charlie Pattinson of New Pictures on this issue: “The best model to finance a show is the one that gets your show made.”
Another important fact is that with rise of digital technologies and the multiplying of platforms for accessing content, viewers are simply starting to embrace subtitles. Even series from smaller territories were recognized in the best non-English series polls – Fauda or Prisoners of War from Israel, Trapped from Iceland, Umbre from Romania, and Wasteland from the Czech Republic. The Brazilian Portuguese language Netflix series 3% became the second most binge watched show on Netflix in 2017. HBO America is now in the middle of production of the famous Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, most of which is not even being shot in Italian, but in the Neapolitan dialect.
Q: What other activities does MIDPOINT engage in to reinforce the capacity of the CEE region?
Working with the entire local industries - not only with talents and projects - is one of MIDPOINT’s core objectives. To strengthen access to international networks, foster communication between regions – as well as within creative teams and further professionals in the television industry, and to bolster the production capacity in general, MIDPOINT has been co-organizing the so called Broadcaster Think Tank modules, with its partners Serial Eyes, Sarajevo FF and Series Mania. This module is a closed session that brings broadcasters from both Western and Eastern Europe together in a round table discussion to address creative issues and the challenges of today’s industries.
We’re also planning to establish a specialized networking platform for all our TV Launch graduates, to offer them the possibility of connecting across editions, and also to meet additional graduates of other training programs.
Q: What are your goals for the 2019 edition?
To bring 9 exciting CEE projects through an exciting and intense development 9-month long process, to train a new generation of CEE development executives, and to offer all our participants skills and tools that will help their future careers, trained under the mentorship of a wide variety of established professionals and tutors.
Apply for MIDPOINT TV Launch 2019 here!
Deadline: September 21, 2018