Animation, a flagship sector in Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Animation is the flagship sector of the film and audiovisual industry in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, as shown by the many rewards obtained by films local entities have supported.
AN AWARD-WINNING PRODUCTION SECTOR
Many films made in Nouvelle-Aquitaine are still remembered today and have been distinguished with the highest honours. Four films supported by Nouvelle-Aquitaine have for instance received the Cristal for a feature film at Annecy’s international animation festival: “The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily” (directed by Lorenzo Mattotti) in 2019, “Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary” (directed by Rémi Chayé) in 2020, “Little Nicholas: Happy as can be” (directed by Amandine Fredon and Benjamin Massoubre) in 2022, ”Chicken for Linda! ” (directed by Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach) in 2023. Other films were selected for Annecy’s competitions like “Marona’s Fantastic Tale” (directed by Anca Damian) or “My Grandfather’s Demons“ (directed by Nuno Beato). “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” (directed by Pierre Foldès) received the Jury Award in Annecy in 2022, and the Best Original Music Award in Les Arcs in 2022 (it was edited by Cristal Publishing in Rochefort). At Cesars ceremony as well, the outstanding quality of the films supported by the region has been recognised: “My Life as a Courgette” (directed by Claude Barras) received two Cesars in 2017 when “Josep” (directed by Aurel) received the Best Animated Film Award in 2021. At Cannes’ film festival, several films were selected like “Mars Express” (directed by Jérémie Périn), and one won the Jury Prize: “The Red Turtle” (directed by Michael Dudok de Wit) in 2017. This year, two films supported by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region were eligible for consideration in the animated feature film category for the Oscars 2024: “They Shot the Piano Player” (directed by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal) and “Unicorn Wars” (directed by Alberto Vazquez). These full-feature films were either co-produced by production companies located in the region (Prima Linéa, Les Films du Poisson Rouge, Miyu, Schmuby, Midralgar…) or were partially made in the region in one of the many studios located in Angoulême or Bordeaux, where Danish studio Sun Creature chose to settle in 2020.
THE ANGOULÊME ECOSYSTEM
Angoulême was once renown for its flourishing tradition of paper manufacturing. Based on this rich industrial past, the School of Fine Arts settled there and, in 1974, the Angoulême Comics Festival was created, which has since become one of the largest comics festival in the world. Over the years, this synergy snowballed thanks to the continued support of local entities. Animation studios spawned, supported by the set up of various animation training programs... The Image Cluster was launched. Since 1997, Magelis has consolidated all players in the sector. Today, Angoulême is France’s number 2 production center for animated images in France, just behind Paris. For Christophe Jankovic, producer of “The Red Turtle” and “The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily” with Valérie Schermann, the Image Cluster “is a jewel of the audiovisual industry in the region, there’s is nothing like it anywhere in Europe, nothing as diverse or varied”.
“The cluster has grown significantly since its inception. It’s now a sector of the economy in its own right”, says François Belenguer, director at Objectif 3D, a 3D school created in 2017 in Angoulême. “There’s no way back now.” Today, the cluster counts nearly 30 animation studios, 1,500 professionals and 2,000 students in 15 specialised schools which adds to the dozen schools located in Bordeaux.
A HIGH HIRING RATE FOR GRADUATES
“It’s a little-known fact outside the sector, but animation is a booming industry”, says François Belenguer. A large percentage of animation productions broadcast on national screens are made in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. This figure has been steadily increasing in recent years as the new tax credit boosted the competitiveness of local jobs. “Studios prefer to hire French animation professionals who have a better know-how. The results are unmatched. There is a French touch that cannot be found elsewhere”, adds François Belenguer. “We have a 100% hiring rate for graduates.”
THE SUPPORT OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES
Animation is the sector of the French film and audiovisual industry with the best export rates. But they are also difficult to produce due to high manufacturing costs (10M€ on average compared to 5M€ for a film in real shots), and long production timespans (3-6 years). Animation is expensive because it is labour-intensive, from layout to compositing through background design and lighting, each film mobilises an army of specialised technicians. Because of these high costs, funding is very scarce, and international co-production is therefore the rule. The Region invests 2M€ in the animation sector, supported by the CNC. The Charente Department has a similar budget. For every 2€ local entities provide for production support, the CNC adds 1€. Money from the local authorities is “real money” explains Christophe Jankovic. “It’s often the support of local authorities that makes it possible to finalise a budget. The challenge for the coming years will be to strengthen this system”. For Catherine Esteves, General Manager of Les Films du Poisson Rouge, established in the region in 2008, “the support fund is a privileged partner. Privileged because loyal. Privileged because it knows the company and the projects well. Even if we cannot know in advance when we submit a project whether it will be supported or not, we have the assurance that it will be studied under a benevolent, very professional prism”.
ANIMATION AND VIDEO GAMES, TWO INTERTWINED SECTORS
Nouvelle-Aquitaine hosts no less than 110 video games companies representing more than 1,000 jobs. While the regional sector is mainly composed of structures with less than 10 employees, there are flagship companies and today leaders in the sector (e.g. Ubisoft or Asobo, France’s leading independent developer). The ecosystem is particularly favorable to the development of this sector of activity with training courses of national and international renown (e.g. Cnam-Enjmin) and the presence of a specialised professional association (SO·Games). Following the adoption of the Digital Roadmap by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region in June 2018, the video game sector is one of regional priorities.
MÉCA, THE NEW EMBLEMATIC PLACE OF CULTURE
The MÉCA – the House for creative economy and culture, is located on the banks of the river Garonne near the Saint-Jean train station in Bordeaux. The MÉCA brings together the Frac Aquitaine (Regional Fund for Contemporary Art) and the two regional cultural agencies: ALCA (Film, Audiovisual and Book Agency) and OARA (Regional Artistic Office – live entertainment). This creative community center was designed as a hub for regional artistic creation and production where directors, producers, visual artists, choreographers, comedians, authors, editors and more come together and in which the citizens are at the heart of contemporary creation and of art in the making. Home of artistic hybridisation, the MÉCA embodies the support of creative sectors in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
Each year, CARTOON invites around +/- 100 students & teachers from animation schools of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region to participate to this initiative during the first day of Cartoon Movie. It is important for us to give young talents the keys to understand how the animation industry works and to open up new perspectives for them.
Therefore, the Coaching Programme is organised around professionals’ workshops / masterclasses where students can listen to young and experienced producers and creators telling the story of the genesis of their very first projects, the launch of their production company or their specific experience in this area.
In the afternoon of March 5th, during the “Job Market / Bourse de l’Emploi” initiative, registered students will meet local companies of the image sector (animation, video game…) to network and potentially find their next internship or first job.*
The students can also have access to Cartoon Movie, giving them a very concrete vision of how a project is pitched and can find a potential partner.
The Coaching Programme is designed to be the starting point for new young talents in animation. It is naturally extended with Cartoon Springboard, the event especially created for graduated young talents with a first project.
*If you are a professional from the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and are interested to participate to the initiative, feel free to contact Nino Zen for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).