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September 12, 2015

Supporter stories: Romanian tales, as told by HBO

On a stride to find fiction projects that are suitable for it, and also to reach new, talented people to write and develop them with, our partner, HBO Romania, recently closed its first script contest dedicated to TV series and TV production.


Episodul 1 (Episode 1) sought bold and original scripts inspired by realities in Romania, which tell a strong story and have at least one memorable character. 308 people sent scripts, some of them teenagers or students, some of them experienced people within the industry. Andra Radu, Original Production Research and Development Manager, says this is a really promising beginning.

“The scripts were beyond our expectations. The contestants had a good understanding of what we were looking for. They understood we wanted a pilot for a series and they wrote it accordingly. Things that are really new in the film industry abroad can already be found in their scripts, even if they have no previous experience with writing for TV. We feel that a new wave of writers is coming – people who watch TV series constantly, and who truly understand the genre. We can work with many of them.”

Before Episodul 1, HBO teamed with the Transilvania Film Festival (TIFF) for 13 years on the National Script Contest, which gave awards to scripts for documentaries, short films and feature films. HBO didn’t benefit directly from the subsequent projects, but was more of a supporter of young writers. Some of the winning scripts have become movies, such as Ioan Antoci’s Câinele japonez, directed by Tudor Jurgiu.

HBO’s involvement in developing the Romanian film industry remains constant. Romanian films are being aired and promoted by the channel, and HBO Romania has also helped produce many recent award-winning documentaries, such as Alexander Nanau’s Toto și surorile lui (Toto and His Sisters), and Lumea văzută de Ion B. (The World According to Ion B.). HBO Europe has produced and run three series: Rămâi cu mine, În derivă, and Umbre, the last being by far its most successful product done in Romania.

More and more people have become interested in watching TV series in the past few years, said HBO’s PR Coordinator Ofelia Năstase, and the ones produced by HBO have definitely had an influence on what people now expect from this kind of media products. Although it’s hard to show in numbers how this interest is reflected in the channel’s programming, Ofelia says the percentage of TV series has certainly gone up.

It is not yet known if Datoria, the winning script of Episodul 1 will be turned into a series, but Laurențiu Gabriel Rusescu, the winner of the $2.500 prize will participate in discussions about the possibility of further collaboration. The subject of his script cannot yet be revealed, but Andra Radu says, it was the closest to what HBO is looking for. Although there is only one winner, the HBO team plans to start conversations with all the five finalists, and also with some other scriptwriters that have shown great potential.

Part of a series dedicated to the supporters who help make the conference possible. We thank them for their contribution.