“Med-noir” series The Midnight Shift wins at MIDPOINT TV Launch in Sarajevo
by Vassilis Economou
- The Cypriot supernatural crime-thriller received the top HBO Europe Award at the final workshop organised by the TV script development lab
After a period of nine intensive months, the 2017 edition of the MIDPOINT TV Launch script development lab has concluded its programme. Having organised the third and final workshop during the Sarajevo Film Festival, in partnership with CineLink Drama, MIDPOINT invited the seven projects that were participating in this edition to make their official pitching presentations in front of an audience composed of film professionals, TV commissioning editors and producers.
The seven projects presented were: 10 Bullets (Greece/Serbia), a crime-drama created, written and directed by Kostas Gerampinis, co-written by Pavlos Methenitis, and produced by Vasilis Chrysanthopoulos and Mirko Bojović; American Dream (Slovakia/Poland), a drama created by Zuzana Dzurindova, Peter Nagy and Peter Badac; Fractures (Iceland), a drama created and written by Kolbrún Anna Björnsdóttir and Vala Thorsdottir, and directed by Eva Sigurðardóttir and Nanna Kristín Magnúsdóttir; The Midnight Shift (Cyprus/Greece/Malta), a thriller created, written, directed and produced by Andreas Kyriacou, and co-written by Harry Ayiotis and Frixos Masouras; Nuts (Croatia), a sitcom created and written by Marjan Alčevski, directed by Petar Orešković and produced by Siniša Juričić; Sleeping Dogs, Dancing Bears (Czech Republic), a drama created and written by Kinga Krzemińska, and directed and produced by Viktor Tauš; and THE TRIBE (Poland), a historical crime film created and written by Agata Koschmieder, and produced by Maciej Kubicki.
The top prize at the pitching session went to The Midnight Shift, a supernatural crime-thriller, and the prize was handed out by Tereza Polachova, executive producer, and Steve Mathews, VP and executive producer, drama development at HBO Europe, which was also the main sponsor of the award, worth $4,000. They described The Midnight Shift as “a highly innovative concept, both commercial and deeply personal to the creators. It has been professionally executed at every stage, from concept to script to industry presentation; a great story told with a distinctive voice and a big heart.”
The Cypriot team behind the winning project – writer, director, producer and showrunner Andreas Kyriacou along with writers Harry Ayiotis and Frixos Masouras – presented an unconventional and revamped version of the story of the Boatman, or Charon, who, according to the myth, carried the dead to the Underworld. In their paranormal story set in the modern day on the island of Cyprus, the Boatman is incarnated by a small-time crook, Harry, now a taxi driver who, during his “midnight shifts”, offers a similar service. His sidekick is Persephone, a headstrong reporter who is trying to uncover the scandals that plague the island and lift the lid on the undisclosed mysteries hidden between the two worlds. Blending the influences of the historical amalgamation of Cyprus itself and elements of both Greek mythology and Orthodox Christianity, The Midnight Shift aims high, setting its heart on initiating a genre of Mediterranean noir, or “Med-noir”, as the creators suggested. According to the creators, the series, or at least the first season, will be composed of eight episodic stories that will have a standalone narrative but will also work in terms of building an arc for the development of the main characters.
The second award, a one-year subscription to C21 Media, was presented by Alan Kingsberg, MIDPOINT TV Launch’s head of studies, to Greek producer Vasilis Chrysanthopoulos, who participated with the Greek-Serbian crime-drama 10 Bullets. The series, written and directed by Kostas Gerampinis and co-produced by Mirko Bojović, is set in modern-day, crisis-riddled Athens, following two homeless people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time during a shootout by Serbian mobsters. They will end up in possession of a gun with ten bullets, which they think will give them social justice while the Serbian mafia boss is on their backs.
The pitching session at the Sarajevo Film Festival was the last step of the development of the TV projects. The first stage took place back in November 2016 at the residential workshop in Slovakia, which intended to allow the series’ concepts and pilot scripts to make progress. The second workshop, which took place during the Finale Plzen Festival in Pilsen, Czech Republic, focused on polishing the pilot scripts, mapping out the season and creating pitch books.
Katarina Tomkova, the programme coordinator, underlined: “We believe in nurturing and supporting a new generation of storytelling in the region and hope to create a strong platform for them at future editions.”
The call for the 2018 edition of the MIDPOINT TV Launch is now open, and the deadline is 15 September. The focus will still primarily be on projects hailing from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Baltic countries and the wider Mediterranean region.
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