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The C21 Drama Series Pitch 2021

Finalists announced in C21’s Drama Series Pitch

C21 has announced the finalists for the 2021 Drama Series Pitch. From over 50 submissions from 23 countries, six projects were invited to pitch at Content London at 11am on November 30. The winners received a £30,000 marketing package to support development.

Content London heard from six of the most exciting development projects from the professional community that are looking for partners to take them to the next level.

The finalists, from established drama creators worldwide, are all bidding to attract additional finance and coproduction partners.

The winning project was announced at the C21International Drama Awards, which took place at 6pm on Thursday December 2.

The six shows selected to pitch were:

Body of Water
(ZDF Enterprises)
A sexy, twisty international crime series. Two unidentified bodies are found three years and a thousand miles apart, both in water – one in London’s Thames river, one in Venice. Valeria, an ambitious young Venetian detective, wants to solve her case solo to shake off the shadow of her powerful building tycoon father. But Thomas, an obsessive London cop, is determined to run the show. They ricochet from allies to enemies as strange clues lead from city to city, back through time to a long-dead medieval cult. The Builders, a forgotten heretic schism of the freemasons, were hounded to extinction for their belief in the oldest superstition of all: for every great building from Egypt’s pyramids to London Bridge, from the palaces of Venice to the towers of Canary Wharf, a Foundation Sacrifice must be made. Now, with climate change and rising sea levels, their new monuments include the great flood defences of the Thames Barrier and Venice’s MOSE. Unlike victims hidden in ancient walls, bodies in water tend to bob up. Valeria dislikes Thomas pulling rank, but with his written backing from Interpol, there is nothing she can do but grit her teeth. Just as she starts to admire his dogged detective work, leading to the present-day big business of property and architecture, she discovers his Interpol letter is a forgery. Thomas is an ex-detective, fired from Scotland Yard years earlier for his obsession with the Thames case. Valeria still needs his expertise, but now she is in charge.

Project information:
Genre/format: International crime drama series, 8x60’
Producers: ZDF Enterprises, Nucleus Media Rights, 3ZERO2
Partners: ZDF Enterprises, Nucleus Media Rights, 3ZERO2
Development stage/planned shooting start: Script and bible completed/2022-23
Shooting locations/languages: London, Venice/English, some Italian
Total budget/budget per episode: €11m/average €1.3m
Financing already in place: €5.5m (50%)

We are looking for:
We welcome broadcasters, producing partners and finance partners for this international returning crime series.

Company profile:
ZDF Enterprises is a major European distributor and producer, represented on Body of Water by Robert Franke and Yi Qiao. Nucleus Media Rights is an international TV IP developer represented by Bruno Zarka and financier Anoop Mohan. 3ZERO2 is a Milan-based studio represented on the project by Daniela Di Maio. Showrunner Brendan Foley has a background in international writing, producing and directing across TV series, feature films and books.

Contact through My Content London:
Brendan Foley, Foley Films

Shlomi Six
(Nawi Pro Ltd)
Anyone who has ever seen Shlomi ‘Six’ and Shlomi ‘Nine’ play football together immediately understands – these two are on their way to great success. And success to them means playing in the biggest football clubs in Europe together. Following a violent brawl on the football field, the two 17-year-old cousins get involved with the notorious Malul brothers, two crooks who operate in the football player trafficking business. After a brutal game of chance, Six gets shot in the knee. While Nine continues to make his way up in the local football club’s pro senior team, Six gets pulled into the world of local crime, trying to make fast money for a knee surgery that might save his career. The cousins’ symbiotic bond leads to a chain of events that include nerve-wracking football moments, violent drug lords, tough Arabic clans, dramatic family and romantic relationships and the underworld of football corruption. But out of all these dangers the Shlomis’ biggest fear is losing each other.

Project information:
Genre/format: Crime sports drama/10x45’
Writer/director: Hen Makhlouf
Producers: Asaf Nawi, Denise Neustadt
Partners: Hot Broadcasting
Development stage/planned shooting start: Script stage/2022
Shooting locations/languages: Israel/ Hebrew
Total budget/budget per episode: US$3,5000,00/US$350,000
Financing already in place: 50%

We are looking for:
Co-financing and coproduction

Company profile:
Asaf Nawi is a producer with many years of experience in the TV and film industry. His production company, Nawi Pro, is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and focuses on the creation and production of original content for the local and international market. Together with a carefully built network of creatives, the company develops and produces film and serial projects and documentary, fictional and entertainment formats across various genres and platforms. Among Nawi Pro’s recent programmes, on which Asaf served as a creator and producer, are the factual entertainment format I’ve Got Issues, documentary series The New Jew With Guri Alfi, docu-reality show Makers, both for Kan 11, and Rotem Abuhav’s Stand Up Comedy Special for Keshet. Furthermore, the company produced feature comedy One More Story, currently in Israeli cinemas, and documentary feature Between Walls, which premiered at Haifa International Film Festival 2021. Before building his own company, Asaf worked as a line producer for very successful programmes such as Keshet’s Prisoners of War and Yes’s Sisters, as well as big American productions that were filmed in Israel like Showtime’s Homeland and NBC’s Dig. Denise Neustadt is head of development and international producer at Nawi Pro.

Contact through My Content London: Denise Neustadt, Nawi Pro Ltd Hen Makhlouf, Creator & director

The Land of a Thousand Hills
(Wild Horses Drama)
April 1994. Rwanda is experiencing a period of precarious peace imposed by the international community. The civil war is over and under the leadership of a government led by Agathe Uwilingiyimana, the country is trying to reunify. But an extremist Hutu faction, Hutu Power, intends to implement its plan of ethnic nationalism and eradicate the Tutsis and Twa for good. Among the extremists, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, minister for family welfare, opposes Agathe’s moderate and unifying policy. Ambitious and unscrupulous, Pauline does not hesitate to display her hatred of the Tutsis, often directed against the social workers who serve alongside the prime minister, such as Rose Burizihiza. The three women know each other – they all come from the same region around Butare, a territory in the south of the country that is hostile to Hutu extremists. In the shadows, a conspiracy within the government has been planning for months for the mass murder of the Tutsi population and the targeted assassination of moderate Hutu opponents. A few days before April 6, Mark Doyle, a British journalist, learns that a coup is about to be launched in the country. He warns Captain Mbaye, a friend and the prime minister’s bodyguard – but too late. President Juvenal Habyarimana is killed in an attack targeting his plane during the night. That’s the signal. In the following hours, an outburst of violence spreads to Kigali and then to the rest of the country.

Project information:
Genre/format: Drama miniseries/6x60’
Writer: Tamara Aihie
Producer: Nicolas Deprost
Partner: Belga Productions
Development stage/planned shooting start: Writing/November 2022
Shooting locations/languages: South Africa, Belgium/English, French, Kinyarwanda
Total budget/budget per episode: €9.9m/€1.65m
Financing already in place: €1.4m (14,4%)

We are looking for:
Coproduction partner – commissioning

Company profile:
Established in 2010, Wild Horses is an independent creative boutique including two audiovisual production companies. With offices in France and Belgium, Wild Horses is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe. Developing and producing original high-end content for television and streaming platforms, Wild Horses Drama works with international writers. Wild Horses Docs & Mag is committed to producing unscripted projects and supports innovative authors to make their voices heard in the French and international markets. Wild Horses had the chance to pitch projects at Conecta, Series Mania and MIA.

Contact through My Content London:
Nicolas Deprost, Wild Horses
Tamara Aihie, Wild Horses

Uneasy Lies The Head
(Participant)
Uneasy Lies The Head is the untold story of one of the most significant, but largely unknown, leaders in recent history: King Hussein of Jordan, who played a critical role in the conflicts and the peacemaking of the Middle East for nearly five decades. After his grandfather was assassinated in front of his eyes at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque, the young Hussein was crowned King at only 17 years old and — with the strong guidance of his mother Zein, the power behind the throne — forced to navigate his country through a turbulent time, where threats to Jordan and to Hussein’s own life abounded. While few thought Hussein or Jordan itself would last long, Hussein managed to survive several dramatic assassination attempts and establish himself as king, and went on to reign for nearly five decades, working with nine American presidents. But Hussein’s personal life was as tumultuous as his political life. His father suffered from schizophrenia, spent time in psychiatric facilities and was forced to abdicate the throne. His mother Zein, a strong presence in his life, pressed him into his first marriage which lasted only two years. A monarch who drove race cars, flew his own aircraft, enjoyed nightlife and married four times – while writing in his memoirs, “In my heart, I was lonely as a castaway” – King Hussein’s accomplishments and failings shed light on the problems of the Middle East today, as well as the challenges of leadership in our time.

Project information:
Genre/format: Historical drama/10x60’ returnable series
Writer: Ali Selim
Producers: Aaron Lobel, Participant, Caryn Mandabach Productions
Development stage/planned shooting start: Packaging/TBD
Shooting locations/languages: Jordan, London/Arabic, English
Total budget/budget per episode: TBD
Financing already in place: Development has been financed by Participant

We are looking for:
All international, including US networks and platforms

Company profile:
Founded in 2004 by entrepreneur Jeff Skoll, Participant Media is the leading company dedicated to the power of impact media and the union of creativity and social action. Working alongside the world’s greatest filmmakers, Participant has produced more than 100 narrative and documentary films and television series that collectively have earned 82 Academy Award nominations and 21 wins, and 34 Emmy nominations and eight wins. Participant’s first TV series, Amer-ica To Me, the 10-part docuseries from acclaimed filmmaker Steve James, debuted in 2018 and was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Documentary Award, followed by Ava DuVernay’s highly acclaimed limited drama series for Netflix When They See Us.

Contact through My Content London:
Aaron Lobel, Black Birch Entertainment
Miura Kite, Participant

Vaka
(Sagafilm)
When the development of Vaka, a new biotech drug for narcolepsy, goes wrong, a cultivated virus enters Reykjavik’s water source. Residents consume it for days before the infection is detected. Then they stop being able to sleep. Rumours about Vaka spread rapidly but when a British passenger jet crashes in the Atlantic Ocean due to a sleepless air traffic controller, the country’s borders are closed and a state of emergency is declared. The insomniacs gradually turn into ticking time bombs that go off one by one with terrible consequences. Kristján, minister of health, has just shaken hands on a billion-krona pharmaceutical investment initiative with the company responsible for Vaka. He is held accountable but the only thing he wants to do is get Hugi, his son, out of prison. Elka, the chief of police for the Civil Protection Agency, finds out about the infection, but her own life begins to unravel once she and her girlfriend, Þórey, both turn out to be infected. Elsewhere in Reykjavik, Ísak, aged 10, watches his father, Jóhannes, transform when he stops being able to sleep. Jóhannes begins to hallucinate and decides to poison his family. Ísak’s only hope is his neighbour and sometime babysitter Linda. Protests quickly turn into riots, and the government is forced to seek military intervention from the US. As stories start to overlap and society begins to crumble, everyone hopes this is a dream they can wake up from. But if there is no sleep, there are no dreams.

Project information:
Genre/format: Sci-fi thriller/8x45’
Writer: Brynja Björk Garðarsdóttir
Producers: Erlingur Jack, Kjartan Thor Thordarson, Hilmar Sigurdsson
Partners: Síminn (local broadcaster)
Development stage/planned shooting start: In script stage, pilot written
Shooting locations/languages: Iceland/Icelandic
Total budget/budget per episode: €5,347,110/€668,389
Financing already in place: €1,465,108 (27.4%)

We are looking for:
We are looking for various partners for this project, including co-producers, distributors, TV buyers or private equity investors. Our main goal is to find a financing partner/TV buyers and a distributor that can join this project. We are also open to any kind of co-producers offering studio facilities, post-production or local financing.

Company profile:
Sagafilm is the leading independent production company in Iceland for TV, feature films and documentaries, with over 40 years of experience. Its recent projects include crime drama series Sisterhood and the second season of Stella Blómkvist, political drama The Minister, environmental thriller Thin Ice, drama series The Flatey Enigma, Stella Blómkvist, CASE, Pressa, Svartir Englar and Rettur, and cult comedy series Næturvaktin, Dagvaktin and Fangavaktin.

Contact through My Content London:
Kjartan Thor Thordarson, SagaFilm Nordic

Video Nasty
(Deadpan Pictures)
1985, the peak of the home video revolution. The UK’s Director of Public Prosecutions has released a list of 72 films, known as ‘video nasties,’ that are to be banned and seized. For hardcore fans, the Holy Grail is to track down and collect every film on the list. Enter Billy and Con, two teenage horror fans from Dublin who take refuge in the subculture of grindhouse horror films. Social outcasts, no good with the opposite sex and even worse at sport, all they have is their niche passion and their almost-completed collection. So when an opportunity to get the last tape emerges, they will move heaven and Earth to travel to the heart of middle England to get it. The only snag: they need to borrow money from Con’s twin sister Zoe, a popular but studious fashionista in the middle of a bi-polar episode who insists on going with them to escape her conservative parents who are trying to discipline her out of her mental health problems. What starts out as a fun road trip takes a turn for the macabre when they get mixed up in a murder investigation, becoming chief suspects and public enemies. They soon discover that they have been framed by a group of ultra-conservative campaigners who want to prove the dangers of video nasties and call for censorship. Video Nasty is a 6x30’ comedy-drama with a strain of murder mystery, all about cancel culture, moral panic and intergenerational misunderstandings, none of which matter to teenagers as much as sex, adventure, true friendship and young love.

Project information:
Genre/format: Dark comedy-drama with strain of murder mystery/6x30’
Writer: Hugh Travers
Producer: Ailish McElmeel for Deadpan Pictures
Partners: Endeavor Content
Development stage/planned shooting start: Pilot script, series bible seeking broadcast, SVoD partners/Q3 2022
Shooting locations/languages: Ireland and the UK/English
Total budget/budget per episode: £4.5m/£750,000 per episode
Financing already in place: 40% in place through tax incentives in Ireland and our partners Endeavor Content

We are looking for:
We are looking for a cornerstone UK/European broadcaster and/or global SVoD for the series.

Company profile:
Established in 2014 by Ailish McElmeel and Paul Donovan, Deadpan Pictures is an award-winning boutique production company specialising in drama with a comic tone. We bring projects with unique voices and a distinct Irish flavour to international audiences. Among our productions to date are Can’t Cope Won’t Cope, which was sold to Netflix and the BBC, and the critically acclaimed Dead Still, which was sold to Polar +, Acorn TV and ViaSat World. In between these productions, the company also produced the series Nowhere Fast and ratings hit The South Westerlies, coproduced Sharon Horgan and Lorna Martin’s Women on the Verge and has recently coproduced Departure series two with Shaftesbury Films in Canada for Peacock and Sky Witness. Film productions include Four Kids & It (2020), The Last Right (2019) and Halal Daddy (2017).

Contact through My Content London:
Hugh Travers, Deadpan Pictures
Ailish McElmeel, Deadpan Pictures

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