Scripted Israel brings artists to Hollywood

On the rooftop of Hollywood’s NeueHouse Thursday night was a celebration of Scripted Israel, a social summit promoting Israeli television on the global stage. The four-day inaugural event, held September 19-21, brought together 28 Israeli delegates – selected by partners from Jerusalem’s renowned Sam Spiegal Series Lab and the Israeli Producers Association – with development and content leaders in Hollywood, and served de facto as a workshop experience for TV writers and producers who want to make a splash in the US.

Tchelet Semel, Director of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel, Los Angeles, and Daniel Susz, Director of Film and Television in North America, Office of Cultural Affairs of Israel, Consulate General of Israel, were the main organizers at the summit.

Representatives from NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, who produced the individual sessions, were present at the music-filled closing ceremony, along with members of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and prominent development heads from streamers, studios and talent agencies such as Netflix, Apple TV Plus, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amazon Studios like Sarah Idan, musician and Miss Universe Iraq 2017, to Danna Stern, global television executive and founder of Israeli broadcaster Yes Studios, rubbing elbows with Israeli media executive and TV producer Alon Shtruzman, who recently resigned after ten years at the powerhouse company as CEO of Keshet has resigned, and Yoni Paran, CEO of Paran Studios.

Hillel Newman, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, notes that “we really love the idea for [Scripted Israel] about a year and a half ago, but it took about another year and a half to put it all together.”

“The idea was that the success of writers, producers and artists in Israel has been on an individual level,” adds Newman. “We decided to organize a platform where Israel’s top producers and rising stars – the content creators in Israel – come to Los Angeles. That’s how you nurture relationships, build cultural bridges and work together.”

Delegates included Shai Eines, Co-CEO of Artza Productions (Oded Davidoff’s award-winning melodrama The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem); Documentary filmmakers Tomer Heymann and Leigh Heyman, Heymann Brothers Films; TV writer Omri Van Essen (“Fauda”, “Tehran”); Naomi Levari and Saar Yogev of Black Sheep Film Productions; and Talia Harris Ram, television and film executive at the Jerusalem-based Deborah Harris Agency, representing famed authors David Grossman and Sayed Kashua.

“We currently hold 30 options [of intellectual property] with companies around the world, including the United States, France, Germany and Israel,” says Harris Ram. “There are projects that are better suited to the US market, projects that are better suited to the European, Latin American and African markets. We’re really open to finding something for everyone.”

Thanks to successful series such as Homeland, developed from the original Israeli format, and Fauda, ​​created by Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, Israel’s standing in scripted television popularity continues to rise; According to analytics research firm Omdia, Israel is second only to Britain in terms of screenplay formats sold in the US market.

To that end, Scripted Israel delegates shared a common goal: to spread their artistic projects to American and global audiences.

“We were received so warmly by the American [entertainment] Industry here in Hollywood,” says Yogev, who produced Dismissed, a darkly funny half-hour series directed by Nir Berger and Atara Frish about criminals in a unit of Israeli soldiers.

The series will begin its second season in October.

“When we came to LA through Scripted Israel, we opened windows,” Yogev continues. “I’m not saying we’ll sign the deal tomorrow, but there is an open line of communication now. That’s the most important.”

Stern, who has directed Yes’s shows like Fauda, ​​As We See It and Your Honor, is optimistic that Scripted Israel will provide Israeli artists with the networking opportunities they need to unleash their creative star power to use.

“People attending Scripted Israel will have better connections and a better understanding of how the US market works,” she says. “People here are looking for ways to navigate the system and finding more ways to say something [Israel’s] Stories, whether in the original Hebrew or in other formats.”

Other attendees at the Neuehouse soiree included Ari Ingel, director of the Creative Community for Peace, a nonprofit organization promoting the arts as a pathway to peace, actor and author Noam Ash (“The Other Two”), and Hallel Silverman, a Tel Aviv resident resident content creator and activist.

Scripted Israel, notes Silverman, whose aunt is actress and comedian Sarah Silverman, offers Israeli artists a well-deserved boon not only on a professional level but also in terms of international relations.

“The beautiful thing is that the stories painted in film, television and music reflect those of their society – and that opens us up [up] to understand each other better,” she says.

Baghdad-born Idan, who worked as a linguist for the US military before making a name for herself in the circus and becoming a peace activist in Israel, a true pin-up star, believes that “art is more than anything , can bring people together.”

Scripted Israel, she says, is the perfect opportunity to bridge cultural differences.

“The arts [are] the only language in which to connect through your experiences, whether it’s music, writing, or acting,” says Idan. “You see, you feel, you hear. I believe that art will bring people together more than politics.”

There were countless moments throughout Scripted Israel that Stern likens to “catching lightning in a bottle,” contacts between writers and producers that signaled the beginning of professional partnerships in the small screen arena.

“Sometimes things go in the weirdest way in our business,” says Stern. “I’ve seen so many of those moments where someone says, ‘I’m looking for this,’ and then there’s a producer and they’re looking for exactly the same thing. You know, you don’t get these big deals in 72 hours. These things never happen overnight – it’s a slow burn. But what I saw at Scripted Israel this week was like little seedlings to me. And they will bloom and bloom.” Scripted Israel brings artists to Hollywood

Charles Jones

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