Mihai Mitrica, cunoscut ca director al festivalului Anim’est si producator de filme de animatie, va reprezenta studioul Safe Frame din Capitala la CEE Animation Workshop.
The CEE Animation Industry Is Uniting into a Single Market
This year the European Commission developed an Animation Plan, which aims to invigorate the animation industry in the entire EU. The Central and Eastern European region contains great potential that has yet to be tapped. A new initiative titled the CEE Animation Workshop is striving to capture this potential by bringing together independent animated film producers from a total of eighteen countries and showing producers from the CEE region the latest international animation industry trends. The event will be held from 2 to 6 December, 2017 in Ljubljana.
The initial idea to connect independent animated film producers from the CEE region (Central and Eastern Europe) emerged in autumn 2016. The need for joint events and more intensive collaboration is the motto of the Visegrad Animation Forum, an international platform that has been connecting producers for the past several years. The primary aim of this initiative is to help grow the industry and lay the groundwork to enable development of successful co-productions which will be competitive internationally. The shared cultural and historical heritage of the CEE countries, the economic similarities and the parallels between forms of expression and language are ideal prerequisites for the creation of strong unity and a strong market. CEE Animation could become a distinctive trademark as well as an excellent export commodity from the participating countries.
The idea to organize this one-off event, which would welcome producers from over half of the countries in Europe and set a firm foundation for future collaboration, was immediately accepted by Creative Europe Desk (CED) representatives. The Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme strengthens the European audiovisual market and tries to enhance the international competitiveness of the market as a whole. The head of the Czech CED Pavlína Kalandrová points out that collaboration between European countries is essential and adds: “The CEE Animation Workshop is intended to facilitate development of the necessary linkages within our market and encourage collaboration within our region, while also helping our market become an adequate partner for Western Europe – whether in the animated work production phase, through co-productions or subsequent distribution.”
The engagement of a total of nineteen national Creative Europe Desks – MEDIA offices (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Georgia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine) is a huge benefit. “We are convinced that through better use of the potential for collaboration between producers in our region, our applicants will be more successful in Creative Europe MEDIA EU programme. That is one of the reasons why so many Creative Europe – MEDIA Desks are taking part in the project,” says Sabina Briški Karlić, the head of the Slovenian CED, adding: “Our mission is not only to put collaborative efforts for the workshop to happen. We are above all working together to identify issues in each of the countries that are part of the CEE Animation Workshop to be able to reach expected workshop outcomes and promote its results at the very moment of European strategy for animation sector being set.”
The head of studies of the workshop is Linda Beath, who has provided film advisory services and trained film producers across Europe for many years. The lecturers, who will spend five days of intensive work with the participants, include five renowned film experts. Experienced Irish producer Siun Ni Raghallaigh, who has over thirty years of experience in the media industry, is the CEO of Ardmore Studios and one of the founders of Troy Studios. A second lecturer is Moe Honan, CEO of Moetion Films Ltd. Her studio was recognized as the 2016 Producer of the Year at Cartoon Movie and has co-produced many animated films, including award-winning full length feature films such as Two By Two – Ooops! The Ark Has Gone (aka Ooops! Noah Is Gone). A third tutor is renowned film marketing expert Mathias Noschis. With his company Alphapanda, he has developed online PR and social media campaigns for numerous Hollywood titles, such as: Lego Ninjago, Kung Fu Panda 3, Ice Age: Collision Course, Toy Story 3 and Rango. Mathias is currently working on a Polish film titled Another Day of Life. The fourth is Richard Rowe, Director of International Acquisitions and Co-productions at DHX Media. Having spent the first 12 years of his career at Turner Broadcasting, he recently founded Rowe Media to provide consultancy services to the children’s television industry. This group will also join Maciej Chmiel, Vice Head of Sales & Acquisitions Department of TVP (Polish National Broadcaster).
Twenty-six producers from a total of eighteen countries were selected to participate in the first edition of the workshop: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Georgia, Kosovo, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and Ukraine. The main workshop topics will include international co-productions, financing, legal issues, marketing, sales, work with TV broadcasters and digital distribution.
An important part of the Ljubljana workshop will be a panel discussion on co-production conditions in Central and Eastern Europe. The meeting will be attended by over thirty film professionals who will try to formulate a joint statement to cinematographic funds and representatives of TV broadcasters calling for greater support of the animation industry. This document, titled the Ljubljana Accord will include a description of the specific conditions for production of animated works in the CEE region and draft improvement strategies aimed at developing a competitive animated film industry – both nationally and internationally.
The CEE Animation Workshop will be held from 2 to 6 December, 2017 at the Animateka International Animated Film Festival taking place in Ljubljana from 4 to 10 December, 2017. More information about the CEE Animation Workshop find at ceeanimation.eu.
The CEE Animation Workshop is being organized in co-operation with the Animateka International Animated Film Festival which will be held in Ljubljana from 4 to 10 December, 2017. The accompanying programme will feature workshop lecturers Moe Honan and Siun Ni Raghallaigh. There will be a general public screening of the animated feature comedy Ooops! Noah Is Gone… In their case study, the two producers will unveil the feature film development process, starting from the search for possible financing and co-production partners to subsequent distribution of the animated work. The Irish-German-Luxembourg-Belgian co-production, known in the USA as All Creatures Big and Small and in the UK and Ireland as Two by Two – Ooops! The Ark Has Gone…, won the 2016 Producer of the Year award at Cartoon Movie. The worldwide success of the film is underscored by sales in more than 120 countries, including cinema distribution in China, and a significant response from online platforms, including Netflix sales. The event will be held on 5 December.
The organizers of the CEE Animation Workshop are:
Creative Europe – MEDIA Desks from 19 countries
Creative Europe is the EU programme supporting audiovisual industry and the cultural and creative sectors in the period 2014–2020. The programme aims to create a single framework for financing projects in the performing arts, visual arts, literature and publishing, film, television, music, interdisciplinary arts, cultural heritage and video games, and to leverage synergies between different sectors, increasing the effectiveness of the support provided.
Visegrad Animation Forum
The Visegrad Animation Forum (VAF) is a platform intended to strengthen the animation industry in the Central and Eastern European region. The main objective is to create opportunities for meetings of producers, studios, TV broadcasters and film distributors leading to co-operation on animation projects. The core of the VAF agenda is a pitching competition with two categories: short film and series/TV specials. Participants have a unique opportunity to attract foreign producers, facilitating further development of the project and momentum towards realization. The competitive part is accompanied by professional workshops on topics relating to the financing of development, production and distribution of animated films and series.
Slovenian Animated Film Association
Slovenian Animated Film Association (:D’SAF!) unites professionals (producers, directors, animators, designers, screenwriters, festival programmers, etc.) working in animated film, as well as experts in related fields, public and private organizations, students and enthusiasts. Its primary goals are to further the development and recognition of the art of animated film nationally and internationally.
Motovila, Centre for the Promotion of Cooperation in the Cultural and Creative Sectors (Motovila Institute) is a non-governmental and non-profit institute based in Ljubljana. It focuses on encouraging international collaboration in the cultural and creative sectors and related complementary sectors. Its aim is to facilitate international connections of cultural and creative operators as well as to equip them with skills necessary for a successful access to cooperation opportunities available within the EU and other international mechanisms. As part of those activities, Motovila runs the Creative Europe Desk (CED) in Slovenia, a national info point for the promotion of the Creative Europe Programme, with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the European Commission.
Animateka International Animated Film Festival
Animateka, a week-long international festival of animated film, takes place every year in Ljubljana’s Kinodvor and Slovenian Cinematheque. It focuses primarily on the most recent Eastern and Central European short film productions. European student films and International children’s films will also be presented in competition programmes. The festival, supported by the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme, includes a wide range of historical and thematic programmes offering audiences insight into the inception and development of animation and giving them an overview of the best contemporary short and feature animated films on a worldwide scale.
A good cause, vibrant and talented participants and my favourite form of the arts, explains Linda Beath her involvement in the CEE Animation Workshop
The CEE Animation Workshop is an initiative of nineteen Creative Europe Desks from Central and Europe, destined to producers of animated films from this region. The aim of this one-off event is to bring together independent producers of animated content and give them professional tools based on latest trends of the international industry.
The event will take place in the beautiful city of Ljubljana (Slovenia) for a period of five days (December 2 – 6, 2017) within the Animateka International Animated Film Festival (December 4 – 10, 2017). The inspiring programme for twenty six producers is partially prepared by industry respected expert Linda Beath and we took an opportunity to ask her few questions about her experience in training film producers.
What are in your opinion the specific challenges that a producer of animated films in the CEE region is facing?
There are many challenges, but as my specialty is financing, I would like to focus the economic issues.
Animation, to start with, is always poses a financial dilemma for a producer. On the one hand, it has a very long ‘shelf life’, in other words, it can be sold and successfully resold for decades. Additionally, if is made for the youth audience who tends to look at films and television programmes repeated, it is bought to be owned, rather than rented for one view. So while the revenue potential for animation is higher than other film sectors, on the other hand, animation is very expensive to produce.
The CEE animation producers face that same dilemma as their international colleagues, and then some. The organizations which help finance their projects often give lower amounts than their Western European equivalents. The result is that total CEE production budgets are less than what their competitors are able to raise.
As far as revenues are concerned, the CEE animation producers often do not own the rights to distribution and international sales and to a revenue share. Moreover, the CEE producers who can keep rights to their projects do not have strong enough local companies to support national distribution nor those who are highly competitive international sellers.
What is your personal motivation in working on CEE Animation Workshop?
When I first started in the industry, I was at the National Film Board of Canada doing a low level, part time job during high school and university. The NFB was the probably the world’s most electrifying animation producer at that time, winning numerous awards including Oscars. So my love of animation started very early in my career.
In my second job in the industry, I was a part of a large Canadian group which lobbied the powers that be (the broadcasters and the national Ministry) for more support, in fact for any support. Despite most of our lobbying taking place in January, in Winnipeg on the bitterly cold, windy Canadian prairies, we had a great and surprisingly active group of producers, directors and distributors which banded together. Our victories did not come quickly but they were remarkably successful including opening up a closed national TV network and the setting up of Telefilm Canada’s precursor, the CFDC.
When I met with the organisers of this event, I felt the same power and pull as I did years before. A good cause, vibrant and talented participants and my favourite form of the arts … how could I not support it?
Co-production between producers from the CEE countries is still rare. What could help to improve this situation?
The situation will improve radically with one big hit. That’s all it will take.
Until then, all of the efforts of the industry, from producers, to funders, to broadcasters and distributors, should be to facilitate co-production. It will allow the animators to work more, spend more time on the quality of their projects and reach more audiences. At a lower price to each of their funders and buyers.
While the motivation is clear to all, unfortunately the CEE animation producers have to keep pushing their will to co-produce through artificial barriers and contrary policies.
With your experience, what is the key for the successful international co-production?
For me it is always the most basic issue and that is: how will the audience react to your project?
It is not about all of the intermediate steps like who is the best co-producer, was it made on time, did it get the best funds.
It is just what will the audience like? How will your project find its audience? How will the audience talk about it to other potential viewers? Word of mouth is still the best sales tool for film.
What would you advise to a film producer (in the field of animation) from the CEE region?
Based on a study I did several years ago for a former MEDIA programme, it is to work with creators repeatedly. Your third or fourth or fifth project together will be the most successful one. Not the first or the second.
The corollary is that the animators, directors, writers need to be paid better than they are. Across the industry – all genres and all sectors – very, very few artists are able to earn enough to work adequately on their long term careers and their shorter term projects. They have to take other jobs to live. It is becoming a crisis aggravated by low budget production, the move to internet distribution and policies like the Digital Single Market.
The CEE Animation Workshop is a one-off networking and training event co-organized by the Creative Europe Desks – MEDIA offices from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Georgia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine and the market access platform Visegrad Animation Forum (visegradanimation.com). The local partners are Slovenian Animated Film Association and Motovila Institute in cooperation with the Animateka International Animated Film Festival.
LINDA BEATH set up Ideal Filmworks in Canada 25 years ago to raise development and production financing for international co-productions of high quality feature films and television programmes. It was incorporated in Italy in 2000, adding Business and Strategic Planning to its core business of entertainment industry financing. Linda Beath annually works with producers to find funding for five or six projects, which range from features to documentaries, animated features and prime-time television dramas. She trains producers and other practitioners in Europe and the South Mediterranean in project financing and strategic business planning for their companies. She consults to public funders on policy issues, especially with respect to the industry’s need for new business models.