The City of Lille and the Hauts de France Region have jointly won the call to tender launched by the Ministry of Culture to organise an international benchmark event for TV series. As a result, the international SERIES MANIA festival, dedicated entirely to TV series, was held in Lille for the first time this year. One of the elements of the festival – the Series Mania Forum – brought the world’s audiovisual industry together over three days at Lille Grand Palais. Interview with Laurence Herszberg, Managing Director of Series Mania, and Francesco Capurro, Head of Series Mania Forum
SERIES MANIA, the challenge
“Over 8 days, to make Lille a city that resonates to the vibe of TV series and get the city known among professionals across the global audiovisual industry”, says Laurence Herzberg, Managing Director of SERIES MANIA. “The festival is divided into three parts: a public festival that takes place in Lille’s cinemas, mainly the Nouveau Siècle, the UGC and the Majestic with a festival village set up at the Tri Postal. A professional event that brings together the crème de la crème of the global audiovisual industry over 3 days: the Forum. Finally, a political gathering called “The Lille Dialogues” which aims, once a year, to make Lille the meeting point between Americans and Europeans at the political and institutional level. The European Commission, ministers and parliamentarians discuss the issues facing the sector, the expectations of Americans and Europeans, and bring their thinking closer together. As such, it’s both a formal and an informal institutional day”, Laurence Herszberg adds.
A major event: 2000 professionals at Lille Grand Palais
“We are the people who run SERIES MANIA, and when we got here, we went around all the venues to find the right place to bring our 2000 professionals together”, Laurence Herszberg explains.
“We weighed up the potential venues. I wanted a site capable of holding 2000 professionals, 60 to 70% of whom were coming from abroad and other European countries. We needed a fairly big place, with good infrastructure, that was well connected to the train stations and city centre, and that gave us the opportunity to organise conferences and “project pitch”- type presentations. After touring Lille and its suburbs, it seemed obvious that the only venue with all these features in terms of capacity to host a large number of professionals, with auditoriums, and near the railway stations, was Lille Grand Palais!”, adds Francesco Capurro, Head of Series Mania Forum.
Series Mania Forum
A convention with conferences which doubles as a trade show
It is both a convention with conferences and a three-day trade fair within a festival that lasts for eight days. “We occupied the Hall Métropole where there was an exhibition section with stands and a major section featuring professional meetings which also extended to the 3rd floor in the Jeanne de Flandres area, with a terrace for the most important meetings. This terrace was greatly appreciated by our professionals. This wonderful space with its covered terrace is one of the best things about Lille Grand Palais, allowing us to create an amazing sunny networking space”, Capurro explains.
A platform of high-level speakers
40 countries were represented, many European but also with lots of Americans who are more and more interested in Europe’s audiovisual sector. “We had all the major American groups, including Netflix’s co-founding boss, ReedHastings, who came to present a conference, as well as the CEOs of TF1, Orange, France Télévision, VRT NWS … all these personalities from the industry were gathered together during the “Lille dialogues” that took place as part of the Forum at Lille Grand Palais”, Capurro adds.
The expert support of the Lille Grand Palais teams
Laurence Herszberg adds: “We worked very well with the Lille Grand Palais teams – totally dedicated people who pulled out all the stops for us … absolutely perfect”.Francesco Capurro continues: “We were helped and supported throughout the year: our project manager was great, always there to deal with our requirements. Under his coordination, the technical team was also very attentive to our needs. They really helped us make this event happen. We, the organisers, are a small team and we needed them and their expertise. In Lille, there is only Lille Grand Palais that can provide this expert support for an event of this scale.”