TV

My contribution to television production is rather meagre, but rich in compromises. Except for WOHNGENOSSIN, the first film I wrote and directed myself, which was a TV movie for the ZDF, but maybe because I shot it on film and it was screened in two cinemas I’ve classified it on this site with FILMS. Moreover the two next were both produced within the framework of cinema co-productions with German TV stations...

The idea for my first TV-only documentary, POLIS, which I shot in 1994, was not even mine but a proposal of Patrick Hoerl, a bold producer at Bavarian Television. About ten years later Kostas Lambropoulos asked me to set up and direct the first five episodes of the TV series "Hardly Ever", written by Katherina Bei. It was the same with the first five episodes of the series LOAFING+CAMOUFLAGE.

The compromise was not that I decided to work for television, but came a little later when I participated in the budget negotiations with the interested channel. And when I was the producer, I knew more or less my limits and could bluff, but when the producer was Lambropoulos, who had managed to produce so many difficult films for me, I didn't have many options. I compromised with the Greek TV reality, but fortunately thanks to the experience and inventiveness of the producer the series looked like productions with twice the budget.

2006
46 x 45’ / 16:9

LOAFING, THE SERIES

ΛΟΥΦΑ, Η ΣΕΙΡΑ / LOUFA, I SIRA

DIRECTED BY:
Nikos Perakis (ep.1-5), Yiorgos Kordelas, Panayiotis Portokalakis
SCRIPT:
Nikos Perakis (ep.1-5), Chariton Charitonidis, Vangelis Seitanidis, Katerina Bei
LOAFING, THE SERIES poster

The series’ long history begins in 1983 when, trying to fund LOAFING+CAMOUFLAGE, I used the abundant material I had collected to write story lines for a six-episode mini series that would be shot in parallel with the film and use the same actors and locations. But ERT – the public Hellenic Radio and Television company – then a monopoly, rejected the proposal, probably for the same reasons the army refused to lend us even a single button. Nobody wanted to embarrass the repentant officers who seamlessly continued their careers.

After the commercial success of the film ERT was interested in six half-hour episodes, which of course we never shot but finally compromised with four, which were even aired two or three times in an arbitrarily edited version presented as a "movie", forcing us to go to court. With the emergence of private television STEFI Films, co-producer of LOAFING, decided to produce TV programmes and asked me to find partners for a multi-episode "Loafing". I worked with Dimitris Nollas, Manos Efstratiadis, Vangelis Raptopoulos and Vassilis Nemeas to organize the existing material for the first of 52 episodes. The major private channels showed initial interest, which always evaporated as soon they saw the budget, so the project was again put on the shelf.

Fifteen years later and only because of the commercial success of "Sirens in the Aegean" the so-called commercial channels asked for an "army series", but set in the present.

If the politics had supported independent media, I might have risked it, not only to take my little revenge on the army for making my life so for giving me such a rough time, but because by then there were allegations about useless arms programmes and raging rumors about commissions and bribes. But a series set during the seven-year rule of the junta remained an unfulfilled desire, and of course I didn’t want my corpse found washed up on some rocky shore or in a ditch beside the Attica Motorway.

In the end I escaped the dilemma, because the channels interested had reconsidered and imagined that a few soldiers on a rocky islet are not only funny but also cost practically nothing. Meanwhile the public channel NET had been convinced that with "Loafing, the series" it could revise its repressed past as "TED" ("Armed Forces Television"), in 1966 the first and only military channel with a terrestrial frequency in Europe.

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2003-2004

HARDLY EVER

ΣΧΕΔΟΝ ΠΟΤΕ / SHEDON POTE

DIRECTED BY:
Nikos Perakis
SCRIPT:
Nikos Perakis
HARDLY EVER poster

"Liza And All The Others" may not have been the great commercial success, but judging by the reactions of young women after the release of the DVD, the film not only found its audience but also acquired fanatical followers."Hardly Ever" was Katerina Bei’s "Liza" squared, with four leading ladies instead of two and 20 45-minute episodes.

Kostas Lambropoulos who wanted to propose the series to the NET public channel, knowing that I hadn’t yet economically recovered from "The Bubble", suggested me to direct the first 5 episodes. My only TV experience was the design of the five episodes of "Felix Krull" and the 5th episode of the also German series "Kir Royal", so because of my inexperience the five episodes came out six.

The first scenarios of "Hardly Ever" facilitated my decision, because the characters of the four "young and successful" women were very realistic and different as well, with unique common interest the quest for the ideal man, lover and companion -or only one of them. After the efforts of Lisa and Claire, the four handsome heroines and their choices, created in me great curiosity and suspense. As planned the shooting continued Dimitris Giatzoutzakis and Christos Dimas, apparently successfully, since NET ordered another 10. But because since then such processes in public institutions delayed, main actresses and directors left for various reasons. The most common was that in the meantime there were other probably more advantageous options proposals. It was the golden era when public and private channels were shooting in the mean time in parallel more than 40 series and good actors were in great demand. Bei continued writing scripts for a younger generation of heroines with similar concerns. And because I had served the series earlier and someone had to coach the new cast, I shot again the first five and I admit that I enjoyed the most. This time I settled to five, leaving as I saw, much room for improvement to the much more experienced Pigi Dimitrakopoulou.

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1994
53’(25 fps)

POLIS

ΠΟΛΙΣ / POLIS

DIRECTED BY:
Nikos Perakis
SCRIPT:
Nikos Perakis
POLIS poster

POLIS is the first and last documentary I shot and it was not even my idea but came from Patrick Hörl and Bavarian Television, which had planned a series of 26 films under the title "Schauplätze der Weltkulturen", in free translation «Sites – or Theatres – of the World’s Cultures». The originality of the venture, which would make it different from dozens of other travel or archaeological series was the use of native writers and directors who would shoot very personal films about the culture of their city or homeland. The editorial executive had already secured the co-operation of a German-Japanese lady director for Kyoto (and the Culture of Zen), an Egyptian director for Egypt (and the Nile Valley) and a Mexican director for Teotihuacan (City of Gods). In addition to this novelty the films would be shot on 35 mm negative film, so that the final image would have the high resolution necessary for the then new HD screens. Therefore I'd have to shoot with the new ARRI 535B camera that digitally encoded the negative for transfer – without cutting it - to video.

I liked the idea and had no other proposals, except commercials. Greek movies were sinking in the cinemas while home video had become the joy of the whole family, and I wanted to be in Athens for my own more serious reasons. Instead of the treatment I was asked to write, I went to Athens and wrote directly a very detailed script with texts and photos of locations and persons I would have in the movie, because a treatment allows a lot of discussion and since I would be the first to shoot I was afraid of becoming the "pilot" of the series. The executive editor of the channel read and approved it positively with no remarks, while my attached budget needed a lot of negotiation and cuts. Finally I signed 30 pages of contracts for script, direction, production, and a budget of 27 pages, and returned to Athens. The inadequate financing was handled with the help of STEFI Film, who provided a package of personnel and equipment services at cost. When I sent the first edited version to Munich, my principals discovered that I had included no reference to the Socratic dialectic and I realised that the specification that the series be the subjective viewpoints of the indigenous makers had been sacrificed to the needs of the TV market and the average viewer, who German humanism wants believing that Socrates swallowed the hemlock out of excessive democratic sensibility. Fortunately, my supervising editors compromised on an additional scene, of a homeless post-Socratic who descends with his student into the deep construction pit for the University Metro station to teach him Socratic dialectic and the Platonic allegory of the cave. The rest of the cultural sites in the series were shot by the native authors and directors of the Bavarian Television.

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