Beta, Series Mania Offering $126,000 to Entice Filmmakers to Try TV

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Germany’s Beta Group is backing a trio of new awards, each with a substantial cash bursary, to entice feature film directors to try out the world of serial television.

Beta will sponsor two awards, each with a $52,600 (50,000 euro) bursary, to back selected TV pitches from established feature directors. They are also getting behind a new emerging talent award, which comes with a $21,000 (20,000 euro) bursary, paid for by the Kirch Foundation, a nonprofit group set up by the late German media mogul Leo Kirch to support projects in film, television and the visual arts.

The three awards will be presented as part of the SeriesMakers program, an initiative launched by Beta and television festival Series Mania. The objective of SeriesMakers is to support talent in the transition to television series production by matching up directors and scriptwriters with showrunners, producers and other behind-the-camera veterans.

Among the established names attending SeriesMakers this year will be Sharp Objects and Unreal producer Marti Noxon; Polish director Agnieszka Holland (House of Cards, Burning Bush); writer/showrunner Michael Hirst (Vikings, The Tudors) and Hagai Levi (In Treatment, The Affair); and producers Frank Doelger (Game of Thrones), Cyril Tysz (Skam France), Ossi Nishri (Scenes from a Marriage), Michael Polle (House of Promises, Furia) and Stefan Arndt (Babylon Berlin).

Any director who had at least one feature film screened in the official selection of an A-list film festival in the past five years, from 2017 to 2022, qualifies for the SeriesMakers awards. Eligible directors can submit in teams of either director-producer or director-writer. Ten teams with TV series pitches will be invited to participate in the program, which will take place at Series Mania 2023, held March 17-24 in Lille, France.

A jury will select the two winning pitches, each of which will receive a $52,600 (50,000 euro) grant to develop a pilot script and a full package for their series, with Beta’s Content Division, led by CCO Koby Gal-Raday, providing additional support. The two winning teams will also be invited to Series Mania’s industry-focused Forum section to present their projects to broadcasters, co-producers and financiers. The emerging talent award will also be presented at Series Mania 2023.

Laurence Herszberg, general director of Series Mania, is heading up the SeriesMakers initiative, together with Gal-Raday.

The initiative can be seen as an attempt by Beta, one of Europe’s leading independent television producers and sales companies, to address the talent shortage in the European TV market. The rapid growth in streaming services has led to a boom in top-end television production across the continent, but European production companies have struggled to keep pace, with many complaining of a dearth of good writers, directors, producers and below-the-line talent to make the shows.

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