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French indies link up for copro push

MIPCOM: Seven French independent drama producers have joined forces to tackle the international market and develop English-language coproductions and are pitching their first two projects.

Makever is a co-operative set up by MakingProd, whose track records include France 2 crime series Sheriff and a number of Arte shows such as Odysseus, coproduced with Italy’s Rai and RTP in Portugal.

Over the past few years MakingProd has helped new prodcos by funding the development of their shows. It owns shares in some but not all of the companies.

“In our model, it is not the equity in a company that is important, it’s the IP,” said Matthieu Vialat, Makever’s CEO and co-founder of MakingProd.

All seven indies began sharing office space six months ago. Their combined production volume is 50 hours of drama and their joint revenue is €40m (US$50.6m).

Makever is now pitching its first two copro projects to the international market.

Mademoiselle Films and Scarlett Productions are working on eight-hour drama Haute Couture, about the world of fashion, which is set in Paris, London and New York. MakingProd has 10-hours sci-fi project Destination Mars, developed by René Manzor, which already has a Russian coproducer attached.

Typically, Makever develops pilots for its English-language projects and talks to potential international coproducers prior to agreeing a French commission.

“We need to remain flexible as long as possible, in terms of financial set-ups,” he said. “For instance, those projects often requires gap financing from a distributor, so we need distribution rights to remain available, to be able to ally with big international players.”

For projects that do not require more international funding, Makever also has its own distribution house, 100% Distribution, a joint venture with TetraMedia.

Makever is also ready to get involved in foreign-initiated English-language projects. “The French market has opened up again to English-language coproductions, especially the commercial broadcasters and Arte,” said Vialat.

“Domestic broadcasters’ funding for individual shows is not going to grow any bigger. If we want to raise quality standards we need the international market and to do English coproductions.”

The group will also be looking to sell scripted formats based on its series. MakingProd’s Odysseus format has already been picked up in the US by producer Herrick TV, while its road comedy series In America is the subject of negotiations.

“Although the various Makever producers do scripted format adaptations for the French market, it is not something Makever will be looking to acquire particularly, as adaptations are not our main interest in terms of IP,” said Vialat.

Makever’s members include Noor Saada’s Love My TV, set up two years ago and already responsible for OCS’s critically acclaimed series FranceKbek; Jean-Marc Auclaire’s year-old outfit Alauda Films; and Aurélie Neimon’s Mademoiselle Films.

Also onboard are Vema Productions and JPG Films, the new companies formed by former GMT executives Veronique Marchat and Jean-Pierre Guérin respectively. Vema has two series in development for TF1 while JPG focuses on theatrical movies. Another member of the group is established indie Scarlett Productions.


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