Series Lab Brussels: What’s new in Belgium?
by Aurore Engelen
- For its third edition, the event set up shop in Brussels as an integral part of the Are You Series? Festival, and we took the opportunity to take stock of RTBF and VRT’s upcoming Belgian series
The Series Lab Brussels is a development and co-production workshop that invites along 20 European producers and auteurs in search of international partners. After the first two editions unspooled in Hamburg, the third iteration of the event took place in Brussels from 9-12 December as an integral part of the Are You Series? festival.
At this year’s gathering, Elly Vervloet, an expert in international co-production at VRT, the Belgian Flemish-language public TV channel, and Marc Janssens, head of fiction at RTBF, the French-language equivalent, presented their upcoming series. While VRT has a long tradition of producing series that are hugely popular not only on the local level, but also internationally, on the French-language side, "We had to start everything from scratch again five years ago," revealed Marc Janssens.
As for the Flemish situation, where private channels provide some fierce competition, VRT produces nearly 40 hours of fiction per year. The strategy is to offer dramas that have strong local roots, are of a high technical quality, and present a high degree of international potential. And this has considerable financial repercussions, as each euro invested by the government and spent on these fictions by VRT has a return of €2.50. Flemish series tend to attract big Flemish film stars, such as Veerle Baetens (currently gracing screens in Tabula Rasa), for example. Two new series are particularly eagerly anticipated: Undercover and The Twelve.
On the French-language side, the situation is slightly different because the Series Fund launched five years ago by the CCA and RTBF is beginning to enable a new generation of auteurs and talents to emerge. RTBF has just successfully aired season two of La Trêve, the first series to have come out of this fund in 2016, and it recently unveiled the first episodes of the second season of Public Enemy. In the pipeline are 19 projects in development, four or five of which are due to be shot in 2019. They are of varying genres and formats, ranging from Pandore by Savina Dellicour, Vania Leturcq and Anne Coesens, depicting the confrontation between an investigating magistrate and a shady politician, to Warning by Vincent Lannoo and Anne-Laure Guégan, a mockumentary about a journalist who is investigating paranormal phenomena in the heart of white-trash Wallonia.
(Translated from French)
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