Tallinn Black Nights TV Beats Forum Brings Regional Drama to the Fore

Since hosting its first dedicated drama series conference during the 2017 Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, the [email protected] & Baltic Event – the festival’s industry arm – has continued to expand the scope of its popular TV Beats Forum.

This year’s event, which will take place during the [email protected] & Baltic Event from Nov. 18-25, includes a conference program focused on the latest industry trends, preview screenings of the newest series from the Nordic, Baltic and Central and Eastern European regions, and a co-financing market showcasing a curated selection of eight-10 series currently in development.

Marge Liiske, managing director of [email protected] & Baltic Event, says the growing TV strand is a recognition of the “well-established reality” facing Baltic producers today.

“It’s been clear for many years that the most important thing is to follow audience demand and be also to tell just great stories,” she says. “Whether they’re on cinema screens or TV screens or on VR headsets is of secondary importance. In times when cinema revenues and money from traditional distribution channels are shrinking, filmmakers must find new ways to diversify, and we try to guide them on these new paths.”

Estonia has been enjoying a boom in TV production and servicing work, due in part to “the high volume of TV production which is coming out of Scandinavia,” says Riina Sildos, of the production outfit Amrion Oü, whose slate includes the ambitious eight-part drama series “Estonia,” produced by Beta Nordic Studio’s Finnish banner Fisher King and being sold globally by Beta Film.

Financing original drama series in the Baltics, however, remains a challenge, which is one of the factors that prompted the TV Beats organizing team to introduce a co-financing event last year.

“We must keep talking about series production, finding and presenting talent and connecting them with co-producers to make their visions come true,” says Liiske. “TV Beats is also focused on building the skills, talent and capacity for series production locally to further grow our creative industries. Many local production companies are engaged with series service production now, but we also want to help original stories emerge from the region.”

Last year marked a successful trial run for the inaugural TV Beats co-financing market, with the first series to come out of the event – most promising project award winner “Troll Farm” (pictured) – now shooting in Lithuania. The series is produced by Gabija Siurbyte for Dansu, which serviced the local shoot for Netflix’s Swedish crime series “Clark.”

Another success story, “Who Shot Otto Mueller?,” which participated in the TV Beats Script Pool program in 2020, will be Estonia’s first original from NENT Group’s Viaplay streaming platform. Produced by Cuba Films, the crime drama series will be directed by the René Vilbre and is written by Birk Rohelend.

This year will see the addition of a competition strand for dramatic series during the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, which runs Nov. 11-27, bringing even more visibility to the region’s output. “It seemed the logical next step to offer series screenings, from our region and beyond, a bigger and better platform to reach audiences, broadcasters and buyers,” says Liiske.

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