A Berlinale between “Sora shock” and post-peak TV

 A Berlinale between “Sora shock” and post-peak TV

Focus Berlinale 2024: New Realities by our correspondend Lühr-Martin Lemkau

Even though the European Film Market (EFM) of the Berlinale, the 74th Berlin International Film Festival, set new records with over 12,000 trade visitors from 143 countries, the mood among trade visitors was mixed with regard to the ever-increasing pace of change.

AI, and in particular the potential impact of Sora, was the big topic. In addition to the conference program, various workshops and roundtables with discussions including selected experts on AI in the film and series landscape, AI training and creative and legal aspects were held, some of which were filled to capacity.

Hardly any of the ten presentations by EFM Startups (from Germany, Croatia, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom) were without the topic AI, with the focus being on the great potential for tools in the areas of pre-production, development, production, marketing, and distribution, of course.

The Berlinale Series Market was dedicated to the current state of series content in talks, showcases and screenings. The Series Festival section fell victim to budget cuts by the current Berlinale management, which is certainly a decision that can be viewed critically given the importance of this area.

The main topics of the Series Market were budget shifts and adapting to a new reality. The Series Market opened with the panel “Silver Linings – Overcoming Crisis through New Opportunities".

Richard Broughton, Executive Director Ampere Analysis, presented latest figures and market trends. According to Ampere’s figures the market for first-run scripted commissions is down by 30%-40% compared to the last few years. The “silver linings” Broughton saw was among other things an annual 2.7% increase in TV ad spending in 2024, an 8.8% increase in Subscription OTT (coming from 15.8% in 2023) as well as a 20.5% rise in VoD and FAST Advertising.
According to Ampere the annual global content spend will increase by USD 4 bn. to USD 247 bn., but as the figure summarizes sports as well, it’s with limited informative value regarding the TV and film industry.
A significant statement was that top commissioners of new scripted projects look very different compared to 12 months ago, as broadcasters are back as most important commissioner beside the two streaming front runner, Netflix, and Amazon.
Broughton told the audience that the share of first-run scripted series co-commissions in Western Europe and North America rose from 6% in Q4 2019 to 8% in Q4 2023, dominated by public broadcaster co-productions and an increase in producer-and financier-backed projects.
For getting the full Berlinale presentation from Ampere Analysis you can find the link below.

In the following panel discussion former Yes Studios executive Dana Stern added that all afore mentioned numbers meant that a lot of people lost their jobs and had rough years.
She also emphasized that there is “no way to go back in time” and that “a lot of us are still chasing the rainbow” and need to accept the new reality. Roy Ashton (Partner, The Gersh Agency) pointed out that there are “still more shows and jobs then 10 years ago”.

Gaumont’s German President, Sabine de Mardt, noted that commissioners are more and more fear-driven and need justifications with IP, talent, and the producer. ZDF Studios’ Yi Qiao added that “books sold three times isn’t IP” and that a “brilliant idea doesn’t go anywhere” as the producer needs to know exactly where the show should go. Ashton concluded that “the networks know what they want, but they don’t know what the audience wants.”

At the “Up Next: Germany” panel four upcoming shows were presented and underlined the finding from earlier that day, that the position of the pubcasters in on the rise again.

The producers of “Krank” shared insights about the very challenging situation as the original commissioner Sky canceled the project four weeks before the shooting with 200 staff on the payroll. They managed to secure the pubcaster ZDFneo within this timeframe and emphasized the importance of trust and transparency within the team. The show is produced by Violet Pictures, Real Film Berlin for ZDFneo and distributed by Beta Film.

Another ZDFneo commission presented during the session was “Love Sucks”, according to the producers “Romeo and Juliet with a modern twist – vampires” with a stunning look, produced by Studio Zentral and U5 Filmproduktion.

“A Better Place” deals with the question: Is a world without prisons possible? The show is produced by Komplizen Serien, Studiocanal Series, Film AG, The Post Republic in co-production with WDR and ARD Degeto for ARD, Canal+ France and Canal+ Austria, distribution is handled by Studiocanal TV.

“The Young Berlusconi” is a three-part documentary series, which dives into the early stages of Silvio Berlusconi's career, the beginnings in the property business during the late 1970s, his venture into establishing a local private television channel, and captures his pivotal role in revolutionizing commercial television in Italy and across parts of Europe. Produced by BB Films/ Beetz Brothers film production (“Juan Carlos”), and funded by ZDF/Arte and Netflix, ORF, Creative Europe Media, Lazio Cinema International, distributed by Mediawan.

Italy was this year's “Country in Focus”. Italian filmmakers not only presented themselves at the Italian Pavilion on the first floor of the Gropius Bau, but also took the opportunity to find out about the diverse range of filmmaking and funding opportunities in Italy, to find partners and to network at discussions, screenings or at the Berlinale Co-Production Market.

The screenings of “Berlinale Series Market Selects” offered a preview of 15 series from across the globe, among others German-speaking “Kafka” about Franz Kafka's life story (Distribution ORF-Enterprise), and “Disco 76”, created by UFA Fiction and starring Jannik Schümann (“Sisi”), “Soviet Jeans” from Latvia about a rock and roll fan sets up a successful and illegal underground jeans factory in a psychiatric hospital (Distribution: Beta Film), “Elsbeth” starring Emmy Award winner Carrie Preston as an astute but unconventional attorney (Paramount Global Content Distribution), “Lost Boys & Fairies” exploring the theme of parents and children through the perspective of gay adoption (All3Media International), as well as “Nudes”, a teen show from France about leaked nudes where three teens are in the midst of a life crisis and forced to handle the situation to regain control of their own lives (Wild Bunch).

It will be interesting to see how the Berlinale, EFM and Berlinale Series Market will present themselves under new leadership next year.

Ampere Analysis Berlinale presentation: LINK