NOT MANY small producers go to MIPTV to licence formats — and find themselves beating off distributors and their schedule of sales appointments spontaneously transformed into acquisition meetings.

And it is certainly not the norm for the producers of German comedy and light-entertainment formats.

But that’s what happened to Germany’s SEO Entertainment after its participation in the MIPFormats Fresh Talent Pitch, which saw 10 format creators pitch their programme concepts to a panel of buyers and commissioners at last April’s Cannes content bazaar.

Uwe Stanz, SEO’s managing partner/executive producer, takes up the story: “One of our shows, Cinema Moments, was chosen out of 110 entries for the Fresh Talent Pitch. We were really excited about being selected, but we weren’t expecting too much, being a young production company with no international track record. So it was a real surprise when we did well and the big format guys suddenly wanted to talk to us. We see it not only as a breakthrough moment for SEO, but also as a real chance to put German formats on the map.”

Stanz reports that SEO has now signed a bundle deal with Zodiak Entertainment for Cinema Moments and another of its original game-show concepts, The Chosen One. He describes Cinema Moments as “a simple, funny, family-skewed entertainment format” based on recreations of famous movie scenes.

“We throw unsuspecting people into an iconic movie scene, such as the orgasm-faking moment in When Harry Met Sally, and watch them live it for real,” he adds. “In essence, it’s a reality candid-camera show but it has the flavour of a Hollywood blockbuster.”

SEO’s decision to join FRAPA is something of a rite of passage, Stanz adds: “It’s a sign we’re no longer a start-up but a grown-up player with serious formats to protect. But while IP protection is one really good reason for becoming a member, we also believe that joining FRAPA and the German Producers Alliance, which we signed up to in May, will raise our visibility on the political stage. That should be really valuable when it comes to lobbying for commissions.”

Not that SEO seems to be in need of much outside help. On July 13th, ProSieben launches the company’s new phone-based comedy Phreak, followed four days later by the premiere of its first live production — eight episodes of entertainment reality game show League Of Balls, in co-production with Redseven Entertainment. Next up is a one-hour candid-camera show called It’s Magic, which debuts in August. Towards the end of year, The Chosen One will, Stanz hopes, also be on air in Germany.

Stanz is particularly excited about the last. “The Chosen One is completely our own creation and we think it’s a completely new idea,” he says. “It’s a massive game show open to anybody in the country over the age of 18. We’re searching for ‘The Chosen One’ — but that Chosen One isn’t determined by brains or beauty or talent, but by a random attribute, such as height or eye colour, which is selected during the show. We reckon it’s going to be huge.”

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