One outfit that’s making some headway in refueling interest in youth-skewing drama production in Europe is Pygmalion, a training program created in 1999 by the European Conservatory of Audiovisual Script-writing (literal translation) and co-piloted with the European Union media program Media 2. Pygmalion is also backed by five European broadcasters that have committed to help young creators through the script-writing and pitching stages of series development.
In follow-up to the first session in spring 1999, three of the 11 presented projects have caught the attention of broadcasters, and each of the creators has received US$13,000 to develop their concept into a complete story line and finish scripts for two episodes by the middle of this month.
German caster ZDF has signed on to help creator Thomas Bruckner from Berlin-based Multimedia Film work up Chip, a 13 x 26-minute about a 13-year-old oddball trying to be himself in a town that subscribes to a policy of rigid conformity. With only videos from his jet-setting engineer father for parental control, Chip lets domestic rules slide, living alone with his digital housekeeper MISS (Mobile Intelligent Supervisory System). He pairs up with two other outcasts and embarks on a mission to foil the diabolical plans of the town’s founding father to make them fall into line.
ZDF has also agreed to guide creator Esther Cases from Barcelona-based prodco ICC through the development of Pets, a 13 x 26-minute sitcom concept about five pet shop-inhabiting animals who are, unbeknownst to them, webcast 24 hours a day all over the world. Targeting teens by incorporating concert segments and cybergames, Pets is also intended to air on a website that’s being developed by Cases.
The BBC is carefully tracking the evolution of a British project called Be Careful: Split Decisions from indie creator Holly Lyons. The heroine, Hamlet, is a 16-year-old drama queen who can never make up her mind. When she’s faced with obstacles, her decision-making process involves discussion with her advisers-two ghosts living in her subconcious; Scar is a rock singer and Simon an environmentalist. When Hamlet imagines what will happen if she follows their completely opposite advice, her imagination takes a trip into parallel realities.
Pygmalion is shifting its focus to dramas for the younger eight- to 13-year-old demo for its second session, which will take place in Paris this March. Ten candidates will be selected to pitch their tween projects in front of participating youth programmers from France 2, France 3, ZDF, TVE and YLE. Script training centers Master School Drehbuch in Berlin and MA in TV Screenwriting from Leicester, England’s Montfort University will also be associated with the 2001 session.