MIPTV Wrap: Day One

Over 13,000 participants and 4,500 companies from 111 countries are expected to attend this year’s MIPTV market in Cannes, France this year. But if you were actually one of the people who made it to the overcast region this week, you may think that the numbers were down this year. Many of the animation industry execs I talked to today were under the impression that the impact of the dire economic climate had made a palpable impact on the business this year. But they also remain cautiously optimistic (yes, we’re using those two words again!!) that things would look up in nine months or so.

Eric Garnet, president of the 5-year-old Paris-based outfit Go-N Productions told me that he hears that a lot of buyers have slashed 40 percent of their budgets and that they are hesitant to commit to shows until 2010. He did have some good news about two of his great-looking toons. One is a 52 x 13 toon called Commander Clark, which is based on an idea from Garnet and Anne de Galard and is written by talented British writer Ian Carney (Shawn the Sheep, Frankenstein’s Cat) and directed by Norman LeBlanc (Dragon Hunter, WITCH). A co-pro with France 5 and Cartoon Network France, the preschool series combines CG-elements with 2D Toon Boom to create a very cartoon-y world inhabited by some fresh animal/space traveling characters. The show is scheduled to debut January 2010. The studio may also have a big Franco-region hit on its hands with Lou!, a girl-skewing toon about a single mother and her 12-year-old daughter, based on a popular French comic series by Julien Neel. Edition Glenat (Titeuf), M6 and Disney Channel France are co-producing the show.

‘We were pleasantly surprised when the show was selected to run in the official competition at this year’s Annecy,’ says Garnet. ‘We think it’s going to appeal to a wide audience, although the subject (a single mom, etc.) may be a bit edgy.’

Go-N is also busy producing the second season (26 x 11) of The Large Family. Co-produced with DQ Entertainment in Hyderabad, India, and Coolabi Productions, the 2D toon is based on the series of best-selling books by Jill Murphy about a very-humanlike elephant family. First launched in 2007, airs on Cbeebies in the UK, TF1 in France and Disney Channel. The colorful preschool series is a co-production between Coolabi Productions Ltd, GO-N Productions in Paris and DQ Entertainment in Hyderabad, India. Although Garnet and his hard-working team are busy with three shows at the moment, they are also developing several new projects for the near future. ‘You always have to be on the look out for your next show. That’s why we’re hoping that people will be more optimistic about the economy in coming months.’

Go-N is only one of the many busy French studios creating quality toons for the global market. Founded by Marc du Pontavice in 1999, Xilam has been steadily creating original toons such as Oggie and the Cockroaches, Shuriken School and A Kind of Magic. Pontavice, who has also delivered full-length features such as Kaena: The Prophecy and last year’s Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure, took some time to talk about his primetime, adult-skewing toon Mr. Baby. The 50 X 4 Toon Boom-animated show centers on a Gallic version of Family Guy‘s Stewie. But you can definitely expect more attitude and mature humor from this opinionated baby!

‘It’s a simple concept and it’s all set in one room ‘ the kitchen,’ says Pontavice. ‘But our central character is a misanthropic, cynical baby who manipulates the whole family verbally. The French rarely do sitcoms, but this is quite different from anything we’ve done in the past. It will air on France 3 at 8:10 p.m., and we think it’s going to create a good buzz.’

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the first day. I talked to so many people about their upcoming animated slate that I have a feeling I may be dreaming of space-traveling dinosaurs and Hannah Montana clones tonight. Oh, and I got to meet Atlantya and Moonscoop’s awesome new media rodent Geronimo (at least, I met a crazy Italian guy in a giant mouse suit at the launch party of the show on Monday evening who was desperate for some parmesan cheese).

The star of the upcoming 2-D toon is a delightful mouse who is kind of an old-fashioned journalist (remember those!?) ‘ so it’s not surprising that reporters love this very retro character. I’ll write more about the new toons on the horizon soon, but I’ll leave you with one big scoop! I ran into DIC founder, the amazing Mr. Andy Heyward in the lobby of the Majestic Hotel and he told me that he’s formed a new company called A2 that will provide children’s programming to Google and youtube. Trust Andy to always be on the cutting edge. He told me that he spent six months sailing around the world thinking hard about what he wanted to do after selling DIC to the folks at Cookie Jar. More on that and other stories fresh from the MIPTV zone tomorrow, after I catch some Zs.