Seriesfest took on the changes and awareness in our world at the moment, with conversations between June 18-22. Panels included those from Killing Eve, Up North, and NOS4A2.
On June 20, members of the creative team from Killing Eve came together to discuss artistry and world-building, which goes into the BBC America hit. Moderated by Stacey Wilson Hunt, the discussion included executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle, co-executive producer, and director Miranda Bowen, along with director Shannon Murphy.
Soundbites included in the discussion for equality and diversity include:
“The makeup of the room should be more racially diverse than it is, we are really aware of that, and I take full responsibility for it. You look at that room it’s full of brilliant female writers, we got a really strong LGBTQ contingent, but it’s not good enough, and we need to do better. We should do better. On a show like Killing Eve, you should be able to do better. And we have all had long talks and lots of soul searching. We can come up with excuses and platitudes, we can talk about the people that we’ve spoken about in the past, but we’ve got to do better. All of our writers are going to do better, but also in production. From the ground up, the entire production, we’re looking at in terms of how we can make concrete change because it’s incredibly important to us. And it’s got to be change that lasts and is effective. I think this is an extraordinary moment, and we’ve got to make a difference. It’s not good enough.” -Sally Woodward Gentle
“I could feel sometimes that there was a slight resistance to having a female in a leadership position. That’s really changing now, and it definitely wasn’t the case on killing Eve, which has had so many female directors already. But for me, the challenge on this is coming on. And I’ve only worked in Australia prior to this. So I wanted to see if there was a difference between working in the UK or Australia, but I have to say because the crew on killing Eve is actually quite small considering how massive this show is. And so, it’s quite easy to form relationships with people very quickly, and the team has been the same since the beginning of the series, so everyone is very close knit and very community oriented and very easy to work with.” – Shannon Murphy
“On Killing Eve, everyone is working so hard, and everyone is investing so much, and hours become limitless, and you just you just go for it, and it’s a challenge. I think it’s like anything, the more you invest, the more you get back out of it. I feel that the relationships are everything, and I think relationships worked really, really well on Killing Eve. There was a good line of communication, and if you needed stuff, then someone would respond to it. You always feel as though you’re very well cared for and carried. And that’s a great testament to Sally’s investment and care. But also, I think the program is that all of a sudden culture of the program as a whole is one that has a very strong identity, and people who work on it are very committed, and you know; they’re there for the long run. They’re not going anywhere. And that’s what makes it good” – Miranda Bowen
On Saturday, June 20, creator Emil Pinnock of Up North debuted his powerful story based on his own real-life experiences. The series follows an innocent teenager, elder convict, and vicious street hustler as they fight through the corrupt prison system and city streets of New York.
Moderated by trauma therapist Dr. Anita Phillips, the conversation with the creative team behind Up North discussed the state of our country, police brutality, and how we can make necessary changes.
Sound bites from the conversation with Pinnock include:
“We decided to do it independently because we had some interest from the studio level – obviously at that time they didn’t want me or Ian to write. They definitely didn’t want me to write, direct, produce, and do all of those different things. And actually, I was willing to take a back seat to some of those titles for the sake of moving the title forward because, at that time, I didn’t have much things going on for my career behind the camera. But the one thing that we weren’t going to let them have control over was the writing. We felt that it was very important to tell an authentic story. We knew that we knew these first-hand experiences, and we weren’t going to hand it off to other writers who had bigger credits, who knew nothing about our community and nothing about this experience. We need to have stories from us by us, and we need to be able to be in control of not only telling those stories, but we need to be in control of receiving the profits from those stories because it’s our actual hard work. We don’t want to just be labeled as the writers and be given a job. We actually brought this thing to the table; we grew it homegrown.”
Also, on June 20, Seriesfest hosted a discussion to amplify inclusion through independent series. They recognized the need to play an even greater role in supporting the voices of Black storytellers. Stating they need a space to collectively learn and process injustices that are evident in society while exploring our common humanity. Panelists included Chris Jenkins (EP, Mavericks), HaJ (Creator & EP, Angry Black Women); Michael Michele (EP & Director, Mavericks), L-R bottom: Patrick Wimp (Director, Brothers from the Suburbs); Dahéli Hall (Creator & EP, Angry Black Women).
Soundbites from the panel included:
“The people who hold the keys to the doors, the gatekeepers, they are the ones who need to be asked, “What are you doing about it?” – Michael Michele
The NOS4A2 panel included a first screening of the season two opener of the critically acclaimed series, followed by an exclusive conversation with cast and creators, including Mattea Conforti, Zachary Quinto, as well as showrunner Jami O’Brien, and executive producer Joe Hill.
Soundbites from the panel include:
“It’s important that we acknowledge that we invite people to go on this journey, but we also respect and understand the attention that needs to be paid to the larger social and political happenings in the world right now.” – Zachary Quinto
Other panels included producers and creators of Ghostwriter. As well as an Innovation Talk from Teri Weinberg and a “City So Real” discussion from TVGuide, with Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James to discuss how Chicago delivers a contemporary, deep, and multifaceted look into the soul of the American city.
Lastly, on June 21, a discussion about COVID-19 and the altered entertainment landscape took place. Multiple creators and producers discussed how life as we know it is altered, and people around the world have embarked upon quarantine with no end. Amidst all of the uncertainty and halting of production schedules, the discussion focuses on how the industry is still able to churn out entertainment for audiences looking for distractions at home.
SeriesFest, a non-profit organization, champions and empowers artists at the forefront of episodic storytelling by providing year-round opportunities for creators and industry professionals to connect, collaborate, and share stories, which inspire and impact global audiences. Each June, SeriesFest culminates in a highly-curated and celebrated Denver-based festival and marketplace. SeriesFest: Season 7 will return to Denver 2021.
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