Which animation series will be broadcast on a TV near you tomorrow?
Some of the answers could be found at the Cartoon Forum in the southern French city of Toulouse, where more than 800 professionals from the animation industry met to seek cross-border partnerships and funding.
The forum has helped 500 projects take off since it started in 1990. This year, 68 European projects were pitched to potential producers, broadcasters and investors.
“We receive around 100 projects. A committee then makes a selection based on the project’s maturity and its market potential,” said Marc Vanderweyer, General Director of Cartoon, an EU-funded European association for animated film.
The Cartoon Forum is all about business. Trailers of the selected TV series are shown throughout the morning and during lunch. The projects are then presented in more detail in the afternoon, answering questions like what kind of audience they are targeting, what the story board is, who the characters are, what the graphic design looks like, how much money they need to complete the project and what producers expect from their future partners.
One of the TV animation series that attracted most interest this year was “Three Little Ninjas Delivery Service”, the story of three ninjas who provide an unusual kind of delivery service. With a graphic design reminiscent of the popular “Angry Birds” video game, it is a Dutch-Belgian collaboration. What were the creators of the ninjas looking for at the Cartoon Forum?
“We’re still looking for financing. And we are also looking for co-producers, distributors and broadcasters, who are interested in the story and in the project – we are looking for everything at this point,” said film director Karim Rhellam.
“Meet the Pugs” is a wacky cartoon comedy show set in Barcelona, about the adventures of a group of human-like dogs, who are just like us, only funnier. The project’s creators are two Germans who live in the Spanish city.
“When started to draw the characters we thought it would be funny to create cartoon versions of our own friends,” said produer Markus Müller. “And then, much later, we thought ‘why don’t we make a TV series for the Cartoon Forum?’”
“Urbance”, a Franco-Canadian project, is the very definition of a cross-boarder concept – conceived for TV, internet, tablets and video games, it is the story of life in a big city where sex has been prohibited because of a deadly genetic virus. Girls and boys grow up in rival gangs separated by hate and anger. The project’s creators are working with clothes designers, musicians and choreographers to try and create maximum buzz.
“I think there comes a time when you go beyond the world of animation, your product becomes a brand in itself, a world of its own and I hope it will continue growing and appealing to a wide audience,” said co-producer and film-maker Joel Dos Reis Viegas.
Projects which took off at the Cartoon Forum include “Puffin Rock”, which was sold to US TV network Nickelodeon and Irish national TV. The team behind it is Oscar-nominated animation studio Cartoon Saloon and media company Dog Ears. The Penguin publishing company also got on board, turning the TV series into a book.
Frank Dietz, head of acquisitions at Super RTL, Europe’s leader in children’s television, said of this year’s event:
“I think there are a lot of great projects targeting a very wide audience – from pre-school to teenagers and also an older audience. There are also a lot of good animation projects for adults. I think there is a remarkable choice of projects this year.”