“Over the last five years, the production of foreign films in Latvia has grown rapidly”
Industry Report: Series
Alise Ģelze • Curator, Magnetic Series
We had the chance to speak to Alise Ģelze, curator of Magnetic Series, a brand-new international pitching and networking event taking place during this year’s Riga IFF
Cineuropa had the opportunity to chat with Alise Ģelze, curator of Magnetic Series, a one-day international pitching and networking event taking place during this year’s Riga International Film Festival (15-25 October). The inaugural event will take place on 16 October and will include four panels on how to produce and acquire independent, non-English-language drama series. The event will be livestreamed here.
Cineuropa: How did the idea for Magnetic Series come about? What’s the initiative’s main mission?
Alise Ģelze: The idea was to create a new meeting point for the industry so that professionals could discover upcoming projects for drama series. Although in Europe I see that there is a new tendency of creating industry platforms focused on drama series, I still think that there is a free spot for events like Magnetic Series. We have chosen to narrow our focus on a particular region – namely, the Baltic Sea region and Scandinavia. As we can see, more and more non-English-language drama series are being produced here. Our initial goal in creating Magnetic Series is to highlight the content that is coming from the Baltic Sea region or has the potential to be somehow connected with it, in terms of either storytelling or production efforts. I’m very pleased to see that, despite the unforeseen circumstances, we have succeeded in running the first event.
There will be four panels led by top producers and streamers in order to discuss the future of episodic content and the digital platforms that commission or acquire them, with a focus on the Nordic-Baltic region and Russia. Who will the speakers be? What specific themes will they cover?
In order to cover different perspectives, and discuss the production, development and distribution of drama series today, it was important to gather speakers from different backgrounds and European countries. Altogether, we will have four discussions focusing on the future of the sector and how difficult or easy it is to launch a non-English drama series. For all of the panels, we will have an insight into the creation of drama series from different points of view: the producer’s, the creator’s, the sales agent’s and the distributor’s.
“Future Perspective” will examine the opportunities and the difficulties we face when we create non-English drama series, featuring Elisa’s head of Content, Ani Korpela (Finland), show-runner Valeria Richter (Denmark), producer Alexander Rönnberg (Sweden), producer Artem Vasilyev and Fremantle’s president of Global Drama, Christian Vesper (UK). The Berlinale’s head of Series, Julia Fidel, (Germany), Film Republic’s managing director, Xavier Henry-Rashid (UK/Estonia), and Fortissimo’s general manager, Gabriëlle Rozing (Netherlands), will discuss festival, sales and distribution trends in “Launching a Non-English Drama Series”. Next, writer-director Christian Ditter will share his experience of creating the German series Biohackers. Finally, a conversation about the making of the Russian TV series Dead Mountain – The Dyatlov Pass Incident will round off the programme.
How is the Latvian film industry reacting to the pandemic?
Until now, Latvia had been one of the safest places in the world, with very few COVID-19 cases. Of course, all of the productions were cancelled earlier this year, but by May, most of them had restarted. Because of the lower infection rate, this summer we attracted a lot of foreign productions, and some are still running and will be until mid-December. The government has imposed common safety measures which production companies have to implement on set.
How will you organise the event? Could you elaborate on its hybrid form?
When we started to work on the idea of creating Magnetic Series, we were still hoping that all of the panellists would be able to meet each other in Riga. But as the second wave of the pandemic progressed, most of the participants decided to join online. We still wanted to keep that presence-based atmosphere, so we are creating a spot in Riga where Latvian film-industry representatives will gather and watch the series online together.
What makes Latvia attractive as a possible place for filming? How are you able to support international co-productions?
Over the last five years, the production of foreign films in Latvia has grown rapidly. Of course, the main reason for this increase is the cash rebate provided by the Riga Film Fund. It provides an opportunity to get back 20% of what is spent here, along with the one provided by the National Film Centre of Latvia, which offers another 20% cash-rebate scheme. Since 2019, it has been possible to combine these two schemes and to claim up to 40% of the production spend. This is a very attractive and competitive tool, which we, as producers, use to bring foreign productions to Latvia. And of course, we have a very diverse range of locations. We have an almost 500 km-long coastline with white, sandy beaches, green forests, manors, castles and a wonderful mix of art nouveau and Soviet-style architecture.
What are Magnetic Series’ future plans?
Magnetic Series 2021 is planned for October 2021 as a two-day industry event focusing on projects and discussions revolving around the Baltic Sea and Scandinavian region. It will be designed as an international industry meeting point between content creators, distributors, potential buyers and partners. Within the two-day event, six to eight drama-series projects will be selected according to predefined criteria. Participants will be given the opportunity to spend three days in Riga and present their projects to the invited professionals, as well as the opportunity to meet potential partners in pre-organised one-to-one meetings.
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