The 17th Cartoon Forum concluded in Pau, France in September 2006. Here are the highlights from a great weekend of business
The 17th Cartoon Forum kicked off in Pau, France, last month with a number of changes introduced after last year’s event in Kolding, Denmark. The number of projects had been limited to 59 this year, reduced from 72 in 2005, and the number of producers and investors visiting the Forum without projects had also been limited.
This year also saw the introduction of Cartoon Tributes, with a total of 15 companies from six European countries (France, UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark) being nominated as finalists in three categories – Broadcaster of the Year, Investor of the Year and Producer of the Year – and voted for by Forum delegates.
The nominees for Broadcaster of the year were: BBC Children’s; French pay kidcasters Canal J, Tiji and Gulli TV; France 5; KRO Youth TV (the Netherlands); and Super RTL (Germany), with BBC Children’s scooping the top prize on the final day.
Investor of the Year nominees were: Hit Entertainment; Cake Distribution (with Dutch partner Hoek Line & Thinker); France Télévisions Distribution (France); Icon Animation (Spain); and Telepool (Germany), with Icon picking up the top gong.
Collingwood O’Hare (UK); A. Film (Denmark); Alphanim (France); Futurikon (France); and MotionWorks (Germany) were put forward for the Producer of the Year prize, with A. Film crowned the winner.
“Cartoon Tributes was introduced to honour the companies that have had influence on the European animation industry over the last year,” Cartoon Forum secretary general Marc Vandeweyer told delegates.
This year, the 59 projects brought to the event came from 16 different countries, with the top five nations (France, UK, Germany, Italy and Belgium) representing 70.6% of these. The leading contributor was France, with 18 projects plus three coproductions, representing 32.2% of the projects, followed by the UK, with 10 projects plus one coproduction.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Estonia, Hungary, Portugal and Switzerland contributed the remaining projects.
A large number of the projects were aimed at preschool audiences – a tendency already noted at the 2005 Forum at Kolding. Specifically, 21 of the projects presented (34.4% of the total) were created for the under-six market, with 29 (47.5%) directed at children in the 6-13 age range. The rest of the list comprised 10 family viewing projects and another targeting teenagers.
UK animator Joanna Quinn (Famous Fred, Canterbury Tales) scooped the prestigious Cartoon d’Or on Saturday evening, netting €15,000 for her film Dreams & Desires – Family Ties, written by Les Mills, which charts a Welsh housewife’s foray into film theory as seen, to hilarious effect, in her video diary.
Other entrants included Regina Pessoa’s Tragic Story with Happy Ending; Guillaume Delaunay’s Nocturne; Oli’s Chance from Saschka Unseld and Johannes Weiland; and Overtime from Oury Atlan, Thibaut Berland and Damien Ferrié.
The screening of Pocket Rockets, a copro between Millimages France, Millimages UK and Toons ’N’ Tales Germany, had the biggest presence at the Forum, followed by another copro, Bingo Bongo (Lobster Films/JetMedia/Sofidoc). Futurikon’s Jeremy also drew a big crowd, followed by Alphanim’s High Spy and The Annoying Thing (The League of Good People/Kaktus Film).
Vandeweyer commented on the overwhelming presence of French shows among the top projects: “It’s very interesting to note that among the top 10 attended screenings, five of them were European coproductions. This shows that our initiatives are now starting to bear fruit.”
In addition, at least 25 projects came away from the trip to Pau with enough investment to complete their financing in the short term. Vandeweyer said he was “extremely happy” about the quality of this year’s event and believed the projects had been of high quality.
Vandeweyer added that a number of industry producers, financiers and broadcasters have been invited to a summit in Bavaria in November that will serve as a Cartoon Forum check-point, to look at what can be improved before the next shindig, to be held in Girona, near Barcelona, on September 19-22, 2007.
News from the forum…
Alphanim spy toon debuts at Forum
Alphanim, the French animation house behind the likes of Robotboy and Zombie Hotel, unveiled its latest project at Cartoon Forum in September, a spy-based project for older kids aged 10 to 13.
High Spy (39x26') centres on Carter and Malone, two teens from the projects who are recruited by a secret government agency because of their parkour-style abilities to undertake dangerous missions.
Alphanim said that action, humour and support are the main ingredients of the series, which make it a kind of Robin Hood set in the modern city. The toon's Forum screening will be sponsored by Jetix France.
France, the host country of this year's event, is the largest contributor to the line-up, with 21 projects, around 31% of the total, followed by the UK with 10 (14.9%), Germany with eight (10.3%) and Italy with five (7.3%). The rest of the world represent the remaining 36.2%.
Other French projects submitted at the Forum include Raymond (26x6'), produced by Everybody on Deck; George & Alfred (39x7') from Kayenta Production; Gecko (26x13') from Def2Shoot; Studio Savelli's Byo Ekosystem (3x6'30''); Agatha Saves the Day (26x7') from Cross River Productions and Normaal Animation's Tangerine & COw (52x7').
Bejuba picks up YTV, CBBC toons
Kids TV outfit Bejuba Entertainment has secured rights to a raft of new shows including the BBC's Likeaballs, a new YTV commission called Jibber Jabber and an Australian project called Elwood Pie.
Former Egmont Imagination exec and now Bejuba MD Tatiana Kober in Pau, France, with client 3D Revolution Productions, which is presenting CGI pilot Moonridge 5 (26x26') to Forum delegates.
New projects that Kober is also onboard include Jibber Jabber, which has just been greenlit by YTV in Canada. Penned by David Bones, it centres on a set of twin boys and the mad adventures they dream up. "Their vivid imaginations take them to places such as the moon and back," said Kober, "and the boys' older sister is always incorporated into their fantasies as some kind of monster." The project is targeted at six to 11s.
Elsewhere, Kober has secured North American and German rights on Elwood Pie, a new production from Sydney-based outfit Kapow!, while Marion Edwards from the UK's Red & Blue is representing UK rights.
Targeted at eight- to 12-year-olds, Kober bills it as "Indiana Jones meets The X-Files." It chronicles how the seven-year-old narrator has a collection of all things weird and wonderful and tells the stories about how he got them, despite his friends and family not believing him.
Kober has also just picked up rights to 4Kids Entertainment's The Likeaballs as worldwide distributor. Targeted at six to 11s, The Likeaballs are sports fans with a particular love of football and arrive on earth after their planet is inadvertently destroyed. It has been commissioned by CBBC.
Other new programming on Bejuba's slate includes Klasky Csupo's Twinke & Sugarless; Bark Woof Tweet from Canadian prodco Pork & Beans, and Eat Your Lunch's Derby Girls. Kober, who has also helped finance productions for Nat Geo Kids such as Iggy Arbuckle and Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies, will celebrate her company's third anniversary this month.
Cartoon launches Cartoon Tributes for 2006
Cartoon Forum launched Cartoon Tributes this year to award companies or personalities that have had a positive influence on European animation, with awards for Broadcaster of the Year, Investor of the Year and Producer of the Year.
A total of 15 companies from six European countries - France, the UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark - were nominated as finalists in the three categories.
Four UK companies were nominated for the inaugural Cartoon Tributes 2006. BBC Children’s is a finalist for Broadcaster of the Year for its European animated coproductions broadcasting on its CBBC and CBeebies channels.
Two other UK companies, Cake Entertainment (along with Dutch partner Hoek, Line & Thinker) and Hit Entertainment, were finalists for Investor of the Year, while Secret Show producer Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment is one of the five finalists for producer of the year.
Other finalists for Broadcaster of the Year included French pay kidcasters Canal J, Tiji and Gulli TV; France 5; KRO Youth TV (Netherlands); and Super RTL (Germany). Other Investor of the Year nominations are France Télévisions Distribution (France); Icon Animation (Spain); and Telepool (Germany).
Aside from Collingwood O’Hare, the other Producer of the Year nominations were A. Film (Denmark); Alphanim (France); Futurikon (France); and MotionWorks (Germany).
CBeebies ages up with new Zoom toon
CBeebies is in early production on a new toon called Tommy Zoom. Its new head of production, animation and acquisitions has announced at The Cartoon Forum that following a revamp the UK diginet will now skew slightly older.
Kay Benbow said that she is now looking for projects targeting kids up to six years old, as opposed to just preschool, in order to "keep them longer," and is thus looking for slightly older-skewing programming.
Speaking about projects she saw debuting in Pau, where BBC Children's picked up the Broadcaster of the Year award, Benbow said: "Many projects were obviously targeted at older kids but still used great colour palettes and had a great visual style. I'd like to see some of that translated into preschool."
"As well as specifically looking for projects targeting boys, we're also looking at things that are a little bit more quirky and fun, but still trusted by parents," she added.
Benbow also unveiled a new in-house CBeebies production that is in its early stages called Tommy Zoom. "It's about a little boy who is deciding the difference between right and wrong and in doing so turns into a superhero," she explained.
Benbow was formerly the channel's exec producer for independents and events, but was upped to her new role in June, following a restructure that saw former head of CBeebies production Clare Elstow become a creative consultant for BBC Worldwide, and Michael Carrington’s promotion from head of children’s acquisitions and animation to creative director at CBeebies.
Coolabi on acquisitions trail
Just weeks after acquiring King Arthur's Disasters prodco Zenith Entertainment, AIM-listed kids IP company Coolabi has revealed it is looking to buy up more indies.
Coolabi's new CEO Jeremy Banks, who was behind the acquisitions of Silver Lining and estates such as Roger Hargreaves' Mr Men while at Chorion, and chairman William Harris, who was behind acquisitions such as Guinness World Records and Sooty while at Gullane, said they were looking to acquire further businesses and properties to further grow Coolabi.
"We've got a long shopping list of companies that we'd like to talk to," Banks said at Cartoon Forum. "We're looking at buying one or two similar size companies to get our share price at a reasonable level."
Harris added that Coolabi was seeking companies "that already have got their own income and require little initial investment." The duo said that they would consider licensing firms as well as those on the international market, but indicated that they were more interested in UK TV-driven entertainment companies.
As well as King Arthur's Disasters, the company, which was formed through the merger of Alibi Communications and Harris's Coolebah a few years back, has gained titles such as BBC drama The Ghost Hunter and The Famous Five as well as a wide development slate via the acquisition of Zenith's kids assets.
Crazy Frog pitches for new TV series
The producer of The Annoying Thing, the latest vehicle for the CGI character known to most as the Crazy Frog, is here looking to secure up to €6m (US$7.7m) to get him his own TV series.
The Annoying Thing, a continuation of Eric Wernquist’s 3D animated character and popstar, previously seen on ‘annoying’ mobile phone ringtone commercials around the globe, could reappear as a 52x11’ television series, and a possible big-screen venture.
Sweden's Kaktus Film, together with The League of Good People, owns the rights to the creation, which they claim is destined for success due to already having an established audience.
“There’s a huge profile and popularity already established or the character, but we’re looking for new partners to helps us realise the full potential,” said producer Peter Lewis. “We’re looking to turn it from just an animated celebrity to something that has longevity and a real shelf-life”.
The first stage would be a 52x1’ skit show with a budget of around €900,000 to produce this with Kaktus in Stockholm, Lewis said. “We see the skit show as the first step in the overall strategy to build the character, and now we’re looking for broadcast interest, distribution and investment.
"The next thing we would like to do is a 75-minute feature film, which would cost somewhere in the range of €6-7m, again, because there’s a huge popularity out there in the market,” he said, adding that the full TV series would follow the film.
Lewis also spoke to clear up any misunderstanding around rights ownership of the character, confirming that the Crazy Frog is jointly owned by Kaktus and The League of Good People, of which creator Wernquist is also a member.
Dee exits Chorion to go solo
Chorion's former strategic director of children's brands Michael Dee has left the UK literary rights firm to set up his own IP consultancy.
Dee, who has a background in commercial and creative development from his time at Chorion, as former head of preschool at BBC Worldwide and as an exec at Tell Tale, said in Pau that he left Chorion three weeks ago and is just days into his new role heading his own intellectual property solutions firm.
"I'm looking at working with indies and other companies who want to extend their properties but may not be able to afford to hire someone to do this full time," he said. "I think indies should focus on what they do best, which is making great programming. Why not let someone else handle the other bit?"
Dee is currently working with former head of children's at BBC Worldwide Helen McAleer, who left the corporation recently to become the UK MD of Walker Books, the biggest kids independent book company in the UK.
"I'll be working with Helen and looking at books that we can extend into multimedia properties," he said. Dee is also working with another undisclosed firm.
Dutch toon outfit has brainstorm
Netherlands animation house Coconino unveiled its latest project at Cartoon Forum in France in September: a somewhat surreal children's series about a boy whose brain leads a life of its own.
Developed in cooperation with Bulgarian toon studio FinFilm and author Ed van Hinte, Brian's Brain (13x7', left) is aimed at the eight- to 12-year-old market and marks Coconino's first step into the international coproduction arena.
"There's a problem in Dutch TV right now," Coconino chief Peter Lindhout said. "There are big political changes going on, so none of the networks are making any decisions or taking any risks."
Moreover, Dutch broadcasters don't really believe in animation, he said, especially projects aimed at adults – all of which has forced companies like Coconino into the international copro market. "For Brian's Brain we'll be looking for a network and possibly another coproduction partner," Lindhout added.
Set up by Lindhout in 1999, Coconino has so far produced various ads and digital film work plus a trio of toons for Dutch public broadcaster VPRO. Ted & Ed (16x4') was aimed at the six-11 set, as was talking heads toon Sjaarloos (30x3').
More recently, the firm made Colin (13x5'), about an aging gay guinea pig. What began as strip by Victor Elberse in a Dutch magazine called Squeeze aired on VPRO this year and is being distributed internationally by SND Films.
Other Dutch animations selected for the Cartoon Forum this September include Telescreen's Frog & Friends (26x7'), based on the books by Max Velthuijs and aimed at four- to seven-year-olds, and Spunky Productions' Nick & Ninnie (26x2'30").
Fifth Element FX team launch TV toon
An ambitious new pilot from Maybe Movies has made its debut in Pau, France, looking to bridge the gap between TV and cinema with groundbreaking new visual effects.
SDS Space Doc Service is the latest project to come from the imagination of Patrice Garcia, head of Studio Patrice Garcia, the French outfit behind the alien creatures on Luc Besson's 1997 feature film The Fifth Element.
Teaser footage shown to a packed room of potential investors and distributors at the Forum demonstrated a range of techniques including puppetry, live-action using a bluescreen background and 3D visual rendering.
The cinematic animation is married to a somewhat implausible plot, set in the 27th century, which follows two galactic ex-smugglers forced to atone for their sins by becoming interstellar space doctors, struggling to meet deadlines set by the head of their organisation, Doc Daddy.
Maybe Movies is now looking to produce two 52-minute specials up front, to develop the characters, and plans on eventually producing a 26x26’ series, aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds, with a two-year production lead-time.
“The public loves what comes out of Patrice’s brain, but what we need now is some money,” said Maybe producer Henri Magalon, adding that due to the production’s use of puppetry and bluescreen instead of sole reliance on 3D graphics, the cost is significantly reduced. “We believe that in France we can do sci-fi too. We should not compromise just because it is for the small screen,” he added.
France calls for more Euro copros
The French animation industry called for more collaboration with partners from neighbouring European countries, at Cartoon Forum in Pau.
At a conference looking at the recovery of the French animation market, Christian Davin, Alphanim's CEO and president of French animation producers' union the SPFA, said the country was missing out by not working with major European partners.
French animators have been helped by new rules from funding body the CNC, which now gives additional grants for production in France. Production has also been boosted by new government tax credit facilities.
Ninety-one per cent of animated series broadcast on French television are home-grown. When it comes to coproductions, Canada is the country's biggest partner – but animators need to look closer to home for copros, said Davin.
"We are missing out on working with producers in markets like the UK and Germany," Davin said, "but they're really having a tough fight at the moment. They don't have a lot of good listeners on board to back their industry."
Davin also called for funding and a structure to make animated films that could compete with the US market.
Representatives from broadcasters including TF1, France 2, France 3, France 5 and M6 were also on the panel.
Alphanim, which is France's biggest producer behind series such as Robot Boy and Zombie Hotel, presented its latest project, High Spy, in Pau yesterday, as previously reported by C21. Alphanim is looking for €12m (US$15.4m) to fund the CGI, high-tech spy toon.
At the screening, more was revealed about the plot. The young spies in the show are charged with stopping a magic substance, which can do anything including healing major illnesses, from getting into the hands of multinational companies.
A new female character, Lucy, was also introduced – brought in to counterbalance the main male duo. She speaks many languages, is described as "aggressive and a bit negative" and wants to work for the CIA.
Futurikon's Jeremy takes first steps
Futurikon, the French toon house behind Dragon Hunters and Miniscule, debuted its new family toon Jeremy (26x24'/ 78x7') in France. We asked investors what they thought.
The series centres on four-year-old Jeremy and offers a view of early childhood through his eyes. For Jeremy "it’s a matter of understanding how life works and realising that the world around him isn't perfect, but full of thrilling surprises," goes the tagline.
Producer Philippe Delarue said: "Jeremy gives the audience a look through Jeremy's eyes – something you don't see an awful lot of on TV." Director Stephane Mit said he got the inspiration for the project from his experience of parenthood.
Commenting on the pilot, UK indie Coolabi's new CEO Jeremy Banks said: "I think it's quite a departure for Futurikon. The quality of the animation was fantastic. It stuck together really well.
"However, my worry is that I almost enjoyed watching it so much. As a parent my concern is that I can't see what's in there from a preschooler's perspective. I'd need to find out a bit more about how they'd make it appeal to the kids. I'd give it a tentative thumbs up."
Meanwhile, Rubber Duck Entertainment's chief Joan Lofts added: "I thought it was nice and sweet, but I didn't like the design very much. I didn't think it captured much of Jeremy as a three-year-old, just what the parents thought. They could probably do some work on it and it would be quite nice."
Greenlit, Triffic sniff out Dog Squad deals
The producer behind Foyle's War and animator behind 2DTV are in talks with UK broadcasters over their new €2.1m toon Dog Squad (26x11'), billed as 'Police Academy on four legs.'
Greenlit Rights, which has previously concentrated on live-action such as ITV1's Foyle's War and psychological drama Trust, also for ITV1, debuted its CelAction toon pilot Dog Squad at Cartoon Forum. It is being directed by Triffic Films' Tim Searle, whose credits include 2DTV, I am Not an Animal and George Michael's controversial Shoot the Dog video.
Aimed at the six-to-nine age group, the toon takes six canine misfits from their lazy pet lives into a trainee police dog regime where they talk their way in and out of trouble, combining character-driven comedy with danger and mystery.
Greenlit exec producer Jill Green said in her Forum pitch that she got the idea for the toon from an ad in a newspaper, which was advertising for trainee police dogs. The ad received 30,000 applicants and there were only six places.
"I thought why not take these six chosen dogs and use them in their own cartoon series," she said. "We want to use real world stories as a spring board for storylines in the series and make it topical." For example, in one episode, entitled Airport Assignment, the dogs end up searching for a secret shipment of sugar cane.
Writers attached are Sam Morrison (Monkey Dust) and Danny Stock. Green said that the toon was looking at a 12-month production schedule and he is already talking to UK broadcasters on the show. "I'd be keen to set up a flexible coproduction structure," she said. The €2.1m budget works out at €7,500 per minute.
The show's main characters are Milo, a laid back dog who likes to DJ; Sparkle, donated by a circus performer; Patrick, a bulldog with a good sense of smell and a large dose of humour; Dyno, an ex-army dog who likes camping; Brusier, who aims to be the world's first international espionage dog; and Aiki, completely zen and focued on martial arts.
The Hive creates a buzz in Pau
Monumental Productions and Lupus Films presented their joint CGI preschool project The Hive in Pau, seeking €2.8m (US$3.6m) to help fund the series. We asked investors what they thought.
The Hive is aimed at children aged two to five and centres on main character Buzzbee, who lives with his sister Rubee as well as Pappa Bee and Mama Bee in The Hive on Honey Farm.
Additional characters include a very cute Babee, who emerges half way through the second series sucking a dummy; Miss Ladybird, who is Mamma Bee's oldest friend; Worm; and Willy the Wasp, who lives outside in The Orchard.
So far 26 storylines have been written and Lupus, which has had success with Pinky and Perky since launching it at last year's Cartoon Forum in Denmark, said it is looking for €2.8m to make the 52x7' series (€54,000 per episode).
Monumental's exec David Willing, creator of The Hive, was inspired after one of his children was stung by a bee and became scared of insects, so he invented a story to make him understand the role that insects play. "Bees are very good human role models – they're hard working, industrious and very family orientated. It's really classic storytelling comprising mini morality tales about modern life," he said.
The morality tales include Sharing Bee, an episode where Buzzbee won't share with his little sister; Bee Magical, where Mama Bee shows Rubee and Buzzbee a magic trick; and Bee Healthy, in which Papa Bee shows Rubee and Buzzbee how to keep fit and stay healthy.
Here's how a selection of potential investors rated the pilot.
Oliver Ellis, Target's director of children's and family programming, said: "From a broadcast perspective, I thought it was lovely – the CGI was great, the kids' voices, the design were all great. They've done an excellent job. But where is the merchandising? I'm not clear how it would transfer into licensed product and I would be concerned in that the characters look quite alike. However, I could see some merchandise potential in the hive where they live."
Emmanuelle Namiech, director of acquisitions and coproductions at Granada International, said: "I thought it was very charming and I loved the little girl's voice that narrated Rubee. It was very sweet. But I would advise having a look at the design of the characters, to differentiate them more."
Tatiana Kober, MD of Bejuba Entertainment, said: "I thought it was very sweet. I thought the series had potential and that the concept was strong. I loved that the idea came from his own bedtime stories to his kids. I definitely think this one would work."
Lobster chases French partner for new toon
A frantic new toon from the man who brought us Lava-Lava was a hot topic for producers in Pau, after attracting a lot of attention at Cartoon Forum in France.
Federico Vitali's latest creation, Bingo Bongo, currently stands as a three-way coproduction between French studio Lobster Films, Lithuania’s Jetmedia SIA and Belgium’s Sofidoc, to be developed as a 26x6' series aimed at teens and young adults.
After its Forum screening, the action-packed pilot Pedalo C’est Bo!, produced by Lobster with backing from France’s Canal+, attracted more than 30 potential copro partners, from which a second French company is likely to be selected.
“Everyone came to us and said they wanted to be part of the production after the screening,” said Lobster’s Serge Bromberg, who has been friends with Italian-born Vitali since 1995. “We hope to find a second French partner, and within the next two months we will have the financing for the project,” he added.
The budget for the series is €1.5m (US$2m), and Bromberg claimed that each individual episode will come in under €10,000, with a production lead time of 14 months. He also indicated that a series of three-minute episodes for mobile phones was being planned.
The comically-violent and fast-paced cartoon is an anarchic look at the power struggles occurring between a group of farm animals, loosely inspired by the cartoons of US toon legend Tex Avery (Bugs Bunny, Droopy, Daffy Duck).
Loonland's Little Princess gets bigger
TV-Loonland closed a deal in Pau for a second series of Little Princess, with UK terrestrial Five already signed up, on the same day the German kids company delists from the UK stock exchange.
The first series of Little Princess (30x11') was voiced by actress Jane Horrocks and comedian Julian Clary and was picked up by Five, ZDF in Germany and ABC in Australia.
TV-Loonland, which retains its presence on the Deutsche Borse but ceases trading on AIM today in continued attempts to return to financial health, will again work with production partner The Illuminated Film Company on the new installment of Little Princess.
Five has already agreed to take the second series before it has even begun to air the first on its kids strand Milkshake. Loonland expects to release details of further broadcast partners in the coming weeks.
Little Princess is produced by Illuminated, a company set up by Iain Harvey, executive producer on The Snowman and When the Wind Blows, and Loonland will showcase new episodes at Mipcom next month.
Novel targets Hollywood names for new toon
The UK's Novel Entertainment presented its €2m preschool project Ping & Pong (26x11') in Pau, France over the weekend, confirming that it has attracted the interest of a Hollywood star as a narrator. We asked investors what they thought.
Novel MD Mike Watts told Forum delegates that he intends to cast celebrities as voiceovers for the preschool toon and has already received an approach from actress Samantha Morton (Minority Report, Enduring Love). Morton has previously voiced preschool toon Max & Ruby.
Ping & Pong, targeted at a core 'middle' preschool audience of three- to four-year-olds, is billed as "a modern fairytale about a girl called Ping and a little dragon called Pong." Ping's favourite red ball, Bounce, is their constant companion and a main element in the show, leading the duo into the direction of adventure and discovery on the magical island of Four Windows.
The screening at the Forum introduced other characters: Grandpa, a fisherman and storyteller, Mama and three monkeys. There is also a live-action element.
CBeebies head of production, animation and acquisitions Kay Benbow said: "I thought it was absolutely charming and lovely to see a strong female character. We are looking for more boy-skewed projects at CBeebies at the moment, but that doesn't mean we're not interested in strong girl-targeted projects. I also loved the music."
Tom van Waveren of Dutch toon shop Hoek Line & Thinker, who sponsored the pilot with Cake Distribution, said: "We sponsored Ping & Pong because we were very charmed by its visual style. I thought the concept of inviting the preschooler to actively participate in visual puzzles while simultaneously being told a story was an original one."
Novel Entertainment is also behind The Fimbles, The Roly Mo Show and Horrid Henry. The latter toon debuted at Cartoon Forum in Santiago in 2004 and has since been picked up by CiTV and ZDF. It is set to be delivered to ITV next month.
Sinbad needs $3m to set sail
With terrestrial channel TF1 already attached, French animation house Strapontin is looking for a further €2.7m (US$3.4m) to make its latest sci-fi cartoon a reality.
The 26x26’ series Sinbad of the Stars, being produced with animation studios Spirit and Lanterna Magica, has a budget of €6.4m, of which more than half has already been stumped up by French partner TF1.
Strapontin was at Cartoon Forum in Pau, France looking to find the rest of the financing for the 3D cartoon, aimed at 10- to 13-year-olds, as well as companies interested in TV sales and merchandising rights.
Oliver Ellis of UK firm Target Entertainment voiced his company’s interest in investing after the screening at the Forum, adding that he has been following the project for some time. “I think it gives kids of that age the chance to mix in a really rich world; it offers them a lot and we are very interested from that point of view,” he said.
Head of BBC Children’s drama coproductions and acquisitions Jesse Cleverly also expressed an interest in the series, requesting a DVD from the French producer after the screening.
SIP looks for UK copro partner at Forum
SIP Animation, the French prodco behind the A.T.O.M and W.I.T.C.H toon series, is here looking to establish new coproductions after five years dedicated to solo ventures.
Stephanie Kirchmeyer, working out of SIP’s Paris office as MD since September 1, said that she is now actively looking to invest, coproduce and exploit animation projects with a strong identity, not only on television but across multimedia platforms.
She also confirmed that SIP, formerly trading under the full title Saban International Paris, is currently working on a preschool coproduction with an unnamed Australian producer.
In her new position, Kirchmeyer's first calling is the search for gender-neutral, creator-driven programming, aimed at the six- to 11-year-olds, as well as investment in other shows targeting a younger audience with a "charming, traditional feel."
“We’ve spent five years working closely with Jetix Europe, but SIP hasn’t done any other coproductions in this time, so now we are looking to open communications to the outside world,” she said. She joked about how notoriously elusive Anglo-French coproductions are, but said she was nonetheless keen to work towards this goal.
“The English production companies run away from the French and the French production companies run away from the English, but I still hope there’s a way to get a coproduction with a UK company,” said Kirchmeyer, hoping to utilise contacts established in her previous role as head of her own consultancy, Anakao in London.
Kirchmeyer said that this year’s Cartoon Forum is better enabling her to achieve this goal, given the tighter defined selection process. “People are here looking for coproductions. In the past people came here with full financing already secured, but this time they have come looking for partnerships."
Spanish venture throws up Sicco
Spanish production company Pausoka and digital media firm Tectoon are teaming up to launch their new animated series Sicco & Sicco at the Cartoon Forum in France this September.
The toon is aimed at children aged four to eight and the logline poses the question: what if your imagination had the power to do away with your fears? It follows a kid who combines extreme fearfulness with an overactive imagination.
Currently in pre-production, the show will be unveiled to delegates at the Cartoon Forum, alongside another 60-plus animated projects seeking coproduction finance this year, totalling about €180m (US$227m) of production budgets.
Pausoka's previous credits include Pinocchio in the Maze, retelling Collodi's classic 1881 puppet yarn, as well as more recent toons such as Cloud Trotters and Alex & Alexis. In development at the Basque firm is a new series called Lab Squad, about a fruit fly that holds the secret to eternal life.
Spain has just three projects selected to screen at Cartoon Forum this year, namely Sicco & Sicco, Dibulitoon Studio's Farmtastic (104x45") and REC's Friends & Chips (13x26'), whereas hosts France dominates the line-up with 21 projects (31%). The UK has 10 (14.9%), Germany eight (10.3%) and Italy five (7.3%).
Spider-Eye onboard Rory toon
Southern Star-backed UK kids prodco Darrall Macqueen and Cornish toon studio Spider-Eye are developing The Rory Stories, a series that stars the voices of Phil Cornwell and Morwenna Banks.
Based on the books by Andrew Wolffe and adapted by David Ingham, the 26x13' animated preschool show is set in a Scottish seaside town and follows the adventures of five-year-old Rory, his dog Scruff McDuff and their sea creature friends.
A five-minute pilot, also featuring the vocal talent of Scottish actor Peter Mullan and nine-year-old newcomer Connor Gray, is currently in production.
The pilot is among the British animation projects selected for the Cartoon Forum this September. Others include Novel Entertainment's Ping & Pong (26x11'), Tandem Films' Benny & Boil (52x5'), Greenlit Rights' Dog Squad (26x11') and year-old Welsh firm Calon's IG (26x10').
Also included are start-up Handle & Spout's Harry & Toto (24x5'), 3-D Revolution Productions' Moonridge 5 (26x30'), Pocket Rockets from Millimages/Toons 'N' Tales, A Productions' Scratch & Sniff (26x11') and Monumental Productions' The Hive (52x7').
French, Italian deals for Xilam's new toon
French animation company Xilam launched its new toon aimed at seven- to 13-year-olds and based on Rahan, a 1960s comic book character in Pau.
Rahan (26x30') is based on the works of Roger Lecureux, whose caveman character clocked up 180 stories published in over 10 different languages. Xilam said a "vast European fan-base" still exists today.
Xilam has teamed up with Italian coproduction partner Castelrosso Films to produce the series, and is aiming to complete finance soon in order to start production this winter. Two major European broadcasters, France 3 and Rai Italy, are already attached.
In the 2D/3D animated adventure toon Rahan is a caveman hunter, who lives in a land of exotic animals, lush valleys and warring clans. The 16-year-old, with his fur-ball creature Ursus, tries to bring peace to the clans.
"We have the vote of confidence from both France 3 and Rai and hope to lock down the last tranche of financing soon, in order to greenlight production," said Xilam founder and president Marc du Pontavice, in Pau, France this week for the Cartoon Forum.
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