Report on Cartoon Forum 2014

EUROPEAN ANIMATION SERIES SHINE AT THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF CARTOON FORUM

Cartoon Forum, the annual pitching event for European animation series, celebrated its first 25 years with an event that will be remembered for the plethora of original ideas and diverse topics in the 84 projects presented during a three-day affair in Toulouse. The event started with a welcome dinner that brought together a record 870 participants at Les Jacobins, a stunning Dominican monastery built in the 13th century.

The Forum opened on Wednesday, 24 September with welcome speeches from Martin Malvy, President of Region Midi-Pyrénées, and Francis Grass, Mayor Deputy of Toulouse Métropole. Afterwards, the director of CARTOON, Marc Vandeweyer, presented an evaluation of the event’s results since its creation in 1990. The impressive figures speak for themselves: Cartoon Forum has contributed to the financing of 538 series, a third of all projects pitched throughout its 25-year history, with a total budget of 1.9 billion euros. In addition, about a third of the series presented at Cartoon Forum have been sold in over 20 countries and 20 European series - such as “Peppa Pig”, “The Triplets”, “The Jungle Bunch”, “The Hive” and “Minuscule” – have turned into blockbusters sold in over 100 countries.

In her speech, Frédérique Bredin, President of the CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée), highlighted the fact that 24 of the 30 French projects presented at Cartoon Forum 2014 were supported by their institution. Finally, Rémy Pflimlin, President of France Télévisions, identified the French public broadcaster as the country’s leading partner in animation and the first commissioner of animation in Europe with more than 12 animated series and 5 animated movies produced every year.

As in other editions of the event, the traditional Croissant Show allowed participants to see the first images of the series pitched in the three rooms at the Centre de Congrès Pierre Baudis.

This anniversary edition, juggling a 20% rise in projects from previous editions, also brought improvements in organisation, reducing pitching slots to 30 minutes from 40, while also making room for projects in earlier stages of development.

NEW TRENDS

France led the line-up by country with 29 projects followed by the United Kingdom, Belgium and Ireland with nine projects each. Denmark, Italy and Spain took part in the event with five projects each while Germany presented 3 projects. Animation production has also expanded across the rest of Europe, reaching new EU countries like Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia and Croatia, which return to the Forum after having participated in previous editions. The selected projects presented involved a total investment of 245 million euros and some 500 hours of content.

As for trends spotted at the event, the Forum revealed a strong increase in hybrid series that mix animation with live action (20 projects such as “Fleak” (Anima Vitae), “Mick - The Kobold-Chef” (Animationsfabrik), “Gaia” (Tilapia), “Troubling Monsters” (Piaggiodematei), “Little Roy” (JAM Media), among others) and an interest by producers to develop cross-media series -- 31 projects such as “Foto B” (Savoir FER), “Squids” (Ellipsanime), “Cooking Time” (Lynx Multimedia Factory) -- capable of being viewed on different screens. 

Projects aimed at children aged 5-12 represented 45% of the total while pre-school series represented a third of the projects. Series for adults and young adults continue to gain ground across European programming grids with projects like “Bitmuch” (Melting Productions), “Lastman” (Everybody On Deck), “Pigeons and Dragons” (La Blogothèque Productions), among others.

The role of broadcasters, both public and private, remains key in developing and financing European animation, together with an interest from new players such as digital platforms like Amazon, Netflix or EuroVoD -- the network of independent European Video on Demand platforms -- who attended the Forum for the first time.

THE MOST POPULAR

“The Tiniest Man in the World”, a project from France’s Les Films de l’Arlequin that combines stop-motion animation with live action, captured the most attention among professionals at the event. Other French series that made buzz were “Houdini” (Dandelooo), “Jean-Michel, Super Caribou” (Autour de Minuit), “Ernest and Celestine”(Folivari) -- a continuation of the adventures of the characters from the book and film, “Squids” (Ellipsanime), “Cheeky Anna” (Les Armateurs/Folimage), “Operation Christmas” (Vivement Lundi!) and “All for Nuts” (4.21 Productions).

Local talent and from the Midi-Pyrénées Region was present with “One Day One Fact”, the publisher Milan Presse’s first foray into audiovisual production and “The Jungle Bunch meets The Owl & Co”, a cross-over programme produced by TAT productions and Studio Hari that had its world premiere at Cartoon Forum.

Belgium showed its creative potential once again with projects such as “Roger Flambé, (animated) Actor” (Thuristar) and “Sex, Say What?”, a series by Beast Animation that explains the changes of adolescence.

Other highlights were the Dutch project “Fox and Hare” (Submarine), Germany’s “Mick – The Kobold-Chef” (Animationsfabrik), UK’s “Claude” (Sixteen South), Ireland’s “Little Roy” (JAM Media) and “Ellie the Ace” (Cartoon Saloon), Spain’s “I, Elvis Riboldi” (Edebe) and Denmark’s “Vitello” (Zentropa Entertainments15).

TRIBUTES FOR FRANCE, CARTOON D’OR FOR BELGIUM

As in previous editions, the event served as a framework for two of the most important awards in European animation: the Cartoon Tributes and the Cartoon d’Or.

For the Cartoon Tributes, the awards that recognize Broadcaster, Investor and Producer of the Year, the French stole the day with prizes for Canal+, Mediatoon Distribution and Les Films de l’Arlequin, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Cartoon d’Or, the award for best European animated short film, went to “The Christmas Log” by Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar, a stop-motion TV special from the popular series “A Town Called Panic” produced by Belgium’s PANIQUE! and France’s Autour de Minuit Productions.

Sponsored by the Mairie de Toulouse and Toulouse Métropole, the award ceremony was held on 25 September at Saint-Pierre des Cuisines.

A UNIQUE FORMULA

Cartoon Forum’s formula, where business combines with pleasure in a relaxed but professional environment, continues to prosper. In this latest edition, participants had an opportunity to go on a sightseeing tour of the medieval city Carcassonne, one of the main tourist attractions of the Region Midi-Pyrénées. They also had a chance to mingle at the Ciné-concert & champagne bar at the Cinémathéque, Rovio’s Nightcap and at the Farewell dinner & karaoke party at Domaine de Preissac sponsored by France Télévisions.

The Forum also reached the streets of Toulouse thanks to “On Cartoon”, a festival open to the public in Toulouse that showed 5 recent European animation films in Jardin Raymond VI.

Another activity at the event was the “German - European Alliances in Animation spotlight on the BeNeLux region”, organised by the German Producers Alliance and at which over 40 representatives from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg analysed possible business tie-ups.

The main partners of Cartoon Forum Toulouse are Creative Europe - MEDIA, CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée), Région Midi-Pyrénées, Mairie de Toulouse, la communauté urbaine de Toulouse Métropole, Casino Barrière and France Télévisions.

The next edition of the event will take place from 15-18 September 2015.