The Nordic TV production industry showed no signs of fatigue despite a significant drop in production volume during 2022-2023.

The Nordic TV production industry may be hungover after a significant drop in production volume during 2022-23, but this was not apparent in the Scandinavian Screening lineup.

“In gloomy times, strong and well-executed stories are more important than ever,” the new executive director, Pernille Munk Skydsgaard, DR Sales, said as she opened the Screening.

At Scandinavian Screening 2024 in Copenhagen (May 27-29) thirty projects took the stage and were granted ten minutes each to pitch their show, including one or two questions from the audience. Some brought a trailer or a longer clip, and some projects in very early development had a few photos or a PowerPoint.

Details on the thirty pitches were specifically meant for the attendees and therefore confidential, as many projects were unannounced or in some cases not yet greenlit.

In 2024, the Scandinavian Screening unfolded at “Den Sorte Diamant”, an architectural marvel on Copenhagen’s waterfront, following a kick-off event at the National Film School of Denmark.

The Scandinavian Screening invites buyers from all over the world to screen the very latest and best Nordic television programmes in all genres, both scripted and non-scripted, for adults as well as for children, developed and produced by Nordic production companies.  Scandinavian Screening also offers its attendees co-production- and investment opportunities in Nordic content that has been commissioned but not yet produced.

Scandinavian Screening takes place every second year. It began in 2010, and was based on the earlier Nordic Screening, which was held from 1974 to 2001. RUV was the main host in 2017 when Scandinavian Screening was held in Reykjavik, while YLE Sales was the main host in 2019. In 2022, NRK hosted in Oslo, and this year the venue was Copenhagen, hosted by DR, NRK, SVT, YLE and RUV, and with its main partners: TV 2 Denmark, ReInvent, MTV Finland, APFI, TrustNordisk, Gothenburg Film Festival, Viaplay, and Elisa.

Looking at the two-day slate, Skydsgaard saw great variety in the Nordic genres and stories, and a surprising general absence of period pieces compared to previous years.

“We saw an impressive variety in genres and stories. That said, crime remains a dominating genre. No surprise, our special brand, Nordic Noir crime, in many variants, was very much present in the programme. I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded that crime is not just a straight who-done-it story,” Skydsgaard told NFTVF, adding:

“We proved once again that our strengths in the Nordics are telling stories with strong characters and relations between those characters. The thirty projects at Screenings also demonstrated that there are more women on screen and producing and writing than in many other countries. I believe the international buyers noticed the core public service quality that we strive for, flowing through all content. Not just from pubcasters, but also from commercial players. Always entertaining to watch, and always aiming to unfold relevant topics, new arenas, and relatable characters initiating important conversations,” she said.

Head of international financing and co-production at Nordisk Film Production, Marike Muselaers, was in Copenhagen. She is also widely known in the business as a moderator for Gothenburg’s TV Drama Vision and other events.

“I saw many different genres and bold stories. No surprise, lots of crime stories as always, but perhaps fewer with a classic detective as the main character. There seems to be more shows in play this year, with the potential of many episodes and seasons. We are all interested in the potential of long-running series these days,” Muselaers told NFTVF.

Several pitches stood out from the others. Noticeably, the plug-and-play offer from Yellow Film and TV in Finland invited broadcasters to fly to Helsinki and produce their version of the medical drama Nurses (Syke), with their main actors on a ready-to-shoot set. Sweden and France have already signed up.

“I love it. Talk about a very cost-effective remake. Come up and produce your show with us. I think we will see more of those remakes,” Muselaers said.

Also, an ambitious Danish documentary filmed over 14 years that unveils a sometimes grim family saga, and a poignant Swedish investigative documentary looks at how deep the online stalker culture goes and how extreme it can be.

Highlighting creative writing, attendees saw several intriguing projects in early development, such as a Finnish series transporting viewers on a highly dramatic journey back and forth in time, exploring untold Namibia-Finland relations.

Uma Film’s tale of an archeological murder investigation will introduce new plot twists in an unexplored environment.

“The ‘Bergman meets the Scandinavian Indiana Jones’ theme is a great example of bolder and more creative stories this year,” Muselaers said.

Attendees also saw an upcoming show testing different settings and plots that delve into themes such as farming and family life, history, and heritage, as a family patriarch unexpectedly chooses to pass the large family farm on to his youngest daughter.

The “AI elephant in the room” was remarkably absent on stage during the two days in Copenhagen.

“It was actually a relief that AI for once played no part in the various pitches and sessions – except for the breathtaking documentary ‘The Whale Mystery’, that specifically uses AI to decode the whales’ communication and living,” Skydsgaard admitted.

For Muselaers, Copenhagen was her fourth Screening, and this year the documentaries stood out.

“At first, I was confused that scripted shows were mixed with documentaries, but I realised that the mixture of very different pitches was a much better line-up. It made sense. There is a lot of drama in documentaries these days. I saw pitches that I might not have caught otherwise,” she said.

As always, it is worth keeping an eye out for the creative power coming out of Iceland, such as a new classic police thriller, and a social drama about a young woman, Hekla, who enrolls in a school for housewives to get her daughter back from foster care.

Also, make a note of crime series based on an untold story of a brutal Nordic conman, and a new Norwegian drama backed by NFI set in an emergency room in Oslo that follows the intense lives of three nurses. From Sweden comes a pure thriller where Jana is torn between two men - the one she is madly in love with and the one she needs to save. One of them might be a killer.

Reflecting on the Scandinavian Screenings 2024 after the final pitches, Pernille Munk Skydsgaard said:

“I believe the attendees appreciated three days in Copenhagen which radiated creative optimism after a couple of difficult years for the industry”.