***This article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. ‘19 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 293)***
If you think there is already an abundance of animated projects in various stages of development, wait until you check out the 87 new titles that will be pitched to buyers and producers at the 30th edition of Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, France this month. This boutique three-day event will host over 1,000 professionals from animation studios, production companies, TV and streaming outlets and financial institutions of 24 participating countries this year.
(A quick overview of some of the selected projects which caught our eye follows below this article.)
As Annick Maes, Cartoon Forum’s director, points out, “The projects and the creativity are always the stars of the Forum. European producers dare to innovate in terms of modern and unusual graphic styles, of intelligent content for kids and of new target groups such as young adults.”
According to Maes, the 2019 event will focus on projects from Wallonia-Brussels this year. “We think of the region as the little giant of animation,” she notes, “This small region is located in the southern part of Belgium, and is a great partner in animation productions. They have small companies, but they make big business. It is important to note that Belgium has a strong tradition of comic books and animation.”
One of the trends noticed by Maes and her team at Cartoon Forum is the huge diversity of graphic styles and projects. She says there are lots of projects based on publishing successes. “Since last year when we noted the interest of book publishers to participate, there have been more involvement from companies to discover new content to be developed as book tie-ins and graphic novels,” she explains. “They also want to be involved in earlier stages of development. This year we have some new ones, next to well-known ones such as Dupuis, Casterman, Clover Press, Capstone Global Library, Lion Forge and others.”
One of the amazing aspects of the Forum is its percentage of successful, produced projects. Since its arrival on the scene in 1990, over 780 series (with an overall budget of 2.7 billion euros) have found financing. Between 2007 and 2017, 45% of the projects pitched the Cartoon Forum were financed.
We had to ask Maes about the best strategy to approach the three-day pitchfest.
“Cartoon Forum is much more accessible to new producers than MIPCOM, for instance,” she explains. “At the Forum, only the quality of the project is important, not the size of the company. This event is perfectly designed for newcomers. If their projects are really good, they will be immediately in the spotlight. There are also numerous casual networking opportunities available to all attendees.”
Maes also mentions that European studios are having a very busy period. “They’re working a lot and have even a shortage of animators right now,” she says. “European animation is expanding and recruiting! The sector has a great potential: the producers co-produce easily with other countries, they can adapt quickly to new technological developments, they sell their series and feature films all over the world. New platforms have also invigorated the business. The animation industry is undergoing a disruptive transformation, but this is also providing a great chance for new formats and content, i.e. new players and new streaming platforms such as Disney + and Apple platforms this fall. Simply put, Cartoon Forum is an opportunity for the European animation ecosystem to develop, and thus be able to match the economic reality of financing shows, as well as corresponding to the international ambitions of professionals.”
For more info about this year’s Cartoon Forum event, visit www.cartoon-media.eu.
Cartoon Forum Project Picks
Dounia. Canadian digital studio Tobo is behind this lovely and timely 2D animated 6 x 7’ series, which aims to help kids understand the reality of migration and the feelings of displaced children. Forced to leave their country, Dounia and her grandparents go on a journey to find a new home. As she crosses different lands in search of an asylum, Dounia meets people and lives various adventures.
Floki. An inquisitive young puppy sets out to explore his own backyard in this charming CG-animated series, produced by Hungarian studio Puppetworks. This 24 x 5’ toon is aimed at preschool audiences and highlights core learning values such as sharing, kindness and honesty.
Wonder Woollies. The childlike Woollies live peacefully in Woolly Valley, but young Wiley can’t help but wonder about their world and realizes that questions lead to extraordinary outcomes. This CG-animated 52 x 11’ series is a co-pro between Bejuba! Entertainment (Canada), Pipeline Studios (Canada) and Fuzzy House (Denmark).
Good Night, Mr. Clutterbuck. Finland’s Anima Studios (Niko and the Way to the Stars, Moomin Valley) is behind this charming preschool series about a modest and well-mannered goat who is blissfully unaware of his reputation as the busiest sleepwalker in Pawchester Town. His pet, Gus the Guinea Pig, and the tiny spider who lives in his cupboard are always trying to keep him safe during his wild trips in this 26 x 7’ CG-animated production.
Mitten and Shoe. A brave little mitten and a less courageous athletic shoe enjoy a fun friendship and adventures in this colorful CG-animated series aimed at preschoolers. The 52 x 7’ show is produced by U.K.-based studio Matinai Animation.
Mousse and Bichon. Mousse the introverted sock and Bichon the warm and clumsy walrus teach preschoolers about the ups and downs of friendships. Their stories are told to the rhythm of the tide, which flows in Mousse’s living room every day. This 52 x 5’ stop-motion series is produced by creative French studio Vivement Lundi! (Dimitri, Pok & Mok).
Some of Us. This powerful new show bring to animation stories of 15 famous and diverse professional athletes who had to fight through discrimination based on their race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or handicaps. The 10 x 10’ series is a mix of 2D animation and live action and is a co-pro between Bachibouzouk (France), DPT (Canada), Film Angels Productions (Latvia) and Hors Zone (Belgium).
The World’s Worst Children. The show’s producers King Bert Productions (U.K.), Brown Bag Films (Ireland) and Sky TV (U.K.) describe this new 52 x 11’ show as “a laugh-out-loud animated sketch show about the worst-behaved, foulest-smelling, grubbiest children from the U.K. and around the globe.” Hosted by The Collector, who has amassed a vast assortment of pictures, videos and statistics to fill his World’s Worst Children Museum, the series aims to be the Ripley’s Believe It or Not of appalling behavior!
Calamity. A 12-year-old girl secretly becomes the intrepid “Calamity,” eager to fight injustices and avenge the bullied street kids who befriend her in this 26 x 26’ 2D series aimed at 6- to 11-year-old audiences. The show is produced by France’s Maybe Movies and 2 Minutes.