|The cast of SEO Entertainment’s animated comedy German Meat, winner of this year’s German TV Lab experiment|
A FRAPA member — SEO Entertainment — has won the 2012 German edition of the European Broadcasting Union’s TV Lab project, which is based on the principle that the television of the future is best co-produced with the viewers of the future.
The creative experiment, which invites viewers to become TV commissioners by voting online and via social media for their favourite pilot, was devised by the Dutch public broadcaster NPO/Nederland 3 back in 2009. Spotting its potential for engaging the elusive, platform-agnostic youth demographic, the EBU picked up on the concept, expanding it into a multi-territory Eurovision project.
The second Eurovision TV Lab, which launched in August on Germany’s ZDFneo, featured seven pilots shortlisted from some 150 concepts submitted by 50 producers. One of those seven finalists was SEO’s animated comedy Deutsches Fleisch (German Meat), described by the Unterfohring-based prodco’s managing partner Uwe von Grafenstein as “a strange, edgy, vicious but hilarious cartoon for grown-ups”.
Von Grafenstein isn’t lying: German Meat is definitely weird. The storyline, created by up-and-coming German satirists Willy Kramer and Ilja Schmuschkowitsch, revolves around four unemployed men — an African ex-child soldier, a sensitive eco-warrior, a déclassé aristocrat with a porn-star girlfriend and a “guy who just can’t get laid” — who are on a mission to save the world from an evil, disembodied head. “It’s media-critical, it’s packed with cultural references to old German TV shows and personalities, and it has very German heroes and anti-heroes,” Von Grafenstein adds. “It’s also the first time ever that there’s been a German-made animation on air for adult audiences.”
|Uwe von Grafenstein: “We’d never have got a show like German Meat commissioned without TV Lab”|
The TV Lab audience was entranced, voting it into top place from day one of the week-long experiment. “In the end, we had a huge lead over our nearest rival, which was amazing,” Von Grafenstein says. “But ironically, if we’d gone to ZDF and said we’d wanted to do this oddball cartoon about four dysfunctional buddies, they’d have told us to go to hell. We’d never have got a show like German Meat commissioned without TV Lab.”
As it is, eight episodes of German Meat are now set to run on ZDFneo next June — and Von Grafenstein and partner Gillad Osterer have been pitched into a full-on hunt for comedy writers capable of transforming Kramer and Schmuschkowitsch’s short-form vision into a long-form series.
Equally pleased with this year’s German TV Lab is Bettina Brinkmann, head of TV at the EBU, the Geneva-based association of 74 public and private broadcasters. “It’s a great concept to attract the younger audience and to have them actively engaged,” she says, adding that, next year, the EBU hopes to expand the TV Lab project to include more broadcasters, territories and genres.
For the EBU, Brinkmann observes, the TV Lab concept is the perfect concept. “It serves in the best way the idea of being ‘public’,” she says. “It is highly important to open a window for all producers to present their new ideas to the public, even across borders.”