Bob Swain and AWN president Ron Diamond attend Cartoon Forum, reporting back about the sweet 16thyear of the European event.
Cartoon Forum wrapped for its 16th year on Sept. 24, 2005, after three solid days presenting new concepts for animation series. Some 67 projects were shown off from 16 different European countries with a combined budget of 232 million. The European Unions Media program-sponsored event was staged this year in the Danish town of Kolding next year itll be heading for the southern French town of Pau.
Joint manager of Cartoon Corinne Jenart said that by the end of the final day 24 of the projects (representing a total 156 hours of programming) had attracted enough interest from broadcasters and investors to confidently expect to complete their financing in the short term. This was in line with the average for the first 15 editions of the Forum with around a third of all participating projects so far have been produced.
Jenart said she was pleased that this years Forum was able to welcome four projects from the new member countries of the European Union. She added that it was particularly good to see one of these Tales of the Sunrise Tree emerging within the top one-third of projects in terms of attendance at presentations and attendance of broadcasters and investors. Its a story that pits the three young elves of the sunrise tree against comic bad guys Horace the Dragon and Bumble the Dwarf in an attempt to maintain harmony in the forest. I must admit I was especially pleased at the success of this project as Ive personally been closely involved with it as scriptwriter and co-producer together with Jet Media in Latvia and Qollective in Slovenia.
In terms of other trends, Jenart went on to say that there was a big increase in the number of pre-school shows this year. Teenage and adult projects are still less common with only six this time. There was also a continuing switch away from 2D to 3D technology the majority of presentations are now for CGI series. However, she added that all the evidence indicates broadcasters still want 2D programming.
Average budgets are running at a little under 10,000 per minute but with some major variations between territories. In Denmark the average was 12,600, in the UK 10,500, in Spain 7,700 but in Ireland only 5,200.
The top 10 shows in terms of attendance at the producers presentations were: Khudayana from BRB Internacional in Spain, Frankensteins Cat from Mackinnon and Saunders in the U.K., The Pinky And Perky Show from Pinky and Perky Enterprises in the U.K., Anna Young from CAOZ in Iceland, Little Kingdom from Astley Baker in the U.K., Minifant Forgotten Tales from Okavango from Toons `N Tales and Scopas Medien in Germany, Oliver Panpot from Funkhauser Film in Denmark, Dad The Impaler from Kavaleer Productions in Ireland, Twisted Tales from Jam Media in Ireland and Safehouse Hotel from Calon in the U.K.
Khudayana is a beautifully animated 3D toon-shaded anime concept with a mystical Eastern theme in which a team of three kids learns to be heroes. Its planned as a series of 52 half hours on a budget of 200,000 per episode. Set in the imaginary world of Magesh, the young heroes have to find the runes that will help return the world to harmony.
Puppet making and animation specialists Mackinnon and Saunders stepped into a wacky 2D world with their offering of Frankensteins Cat Â a 26x11 comedy caper for kids 6-11.
The Pinky and Perky Show brought together The Picture Production Co. and Lupus Films in a CGI revival of the classic British piglet puppet who starred in their own BBC show from 1957 until 1973. At the height of their popularity, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with The Beatles and appeared regularly in Las Vegas in a live stage show. Rights are now held by Pinky and Perky Enterprises and an update gives the pigs their own peak time celebrity TV show including a 2D animation created by Pinky called Powerpig and Swillboy. The plan is for a 52x11 show for kids 6-11with initial scripts written by BAFTA-winning writer Alan Gilbey.
Icelandic CGI studio Caoz returned to the Forum this year with Anna Young a series of 13 half hours based on the same concept as the half hour special Anna and the Moods launched at the Forum two years ago and now complete. With a teenage theme and high quality 3D animation, it was a popular session although its proposed budget of 17,500 was one of the highest being pitched.
Little Kingdom is the latest series to be created by Astley Baker Davies following their huge success with Peppa Pig which was itself launched at Cartoon Forum three years ago. Another series of 52x10 in a simple 2D style, its the charming tale of Holly the fairy princess and her little friend Ben the elf.
Minifant - Forgotten Tales From Okavango is a proposed series of 26x11 set amongthe animals of the African savannah. Central to the tales is Minifant an elephant who is so forgetful that one fine day he simply forgets to grow. His continuing forgetfulness is the starting point for all the stories in the series although he always comes up with an offbeat solution to problems that ensue.
Danish studio Funkhauser Film invented a whole new format for its CGI story Oliver Panpot a triple animation special of three half hour episodes. An impressive trailer made by director Jesper Ostergaard attracted a lot of admiration and strong interest from broadcasters. Set in medieval times, its the story of Oliver the young inventor, a princess mixed up with another girl at birth, an army of dwarves and freedom fighters and the overthrow of a tyrant king. Budget for the animated miniseries is 3.26 million.
Irish horror spoof Dad the Impaler presents the story of two kids with a werewolf for a brother, a vampire for a dad and a mummy for a mommy. The proposed series is for 26 half hours.
Also from Ireland, Jam Media came up with what appeared to be a guaranteed hit as broadcasters enthusiastically queued up to praise its interactive series Twisted Tales. The company already has a big hit on its hands with its pre-school show based on the same technology Pic Me. This allows parents to send in pictures of their children to star in animated episodes. Twisted Tales takes things a step further, using a website and mobile phones to download a series of digital pictures of your face, which can then be automatically combined with the show. You can watch your own version on the Internet and broadcasters select from these. The series itself is an extremely funny twist on classic fairy tales. Broadcasters are offered a package of faceless animation plus software to combine it with their viewers pictures.
Finally in the top 10 was Cartoon Forum institution Robin Lyons in his first appearance with new company Calon set up after his previous outfit Siriol merged with Entertainment Rights. Lyons is noted for his theatrical presentations and this year was no exception as he played a spy in the animation community in order to present Safehouse Hotel Â a proposal for 26 half hours of Flash animation about two children whose unsuspecting parents run a hotel thats a nest of spies. Its described as a cross between Fawlty Towers and The Prisoner.
Other shows that proved popular with broadcasters included Wheres My Dinner? from Londons Arthur Cox. Faced with increasing government pressure to counter fast-food advertising in childrens programming, broadcasters are keen to find entertaining projects that promote healthy eating. The situation is particularly pressing in the U.K. where the massive success of Jamie Olivers investigation in School Dinners has ignited public debate on the issue. And heres a show that does the job so well a great mix of 2D and 3D animation styles bringing together cookery, geography and crazy capers in a single 52x5 package.
Coming out of left field and the only adult show to figure in the top 20 drawing attendance was Leningrad Cowboys from Finlands Anima Vitae. Its a madcap 26x3 tribute to the insane anti-establishment Finnish band who came to fame in the 1990s with a series of huge concerts such as their Berlin collaboration with the 160-strong Red Army Ensemble. The scripts are extremely funny with a crazy take on everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to George Bush.
Also aiming at an adult audience as well as at kids was Magmas Footballers Husband a fast turnaround concept of 52x2 Flash animation designed to tie in with sports programming next summer for the soccer World Cup in Germany.
>p?One of the best looking trailers was Dandy Productions Pablo a simple but beautiful pre-school concept about an artist with a set of magic crayons. The characters step into the childishly illustrated world that he draws for a series of 26x5 episodes.
Another striking and original design came from Hahn Films Tikis Band. A 26x4 series with an 8,000 per minute budget, it applies animated 2D facial textures to simple 3D models. Emerging from a greetings card, the four Tikis sing a wacky song on request.
The GB Animation Co. plans to use Toon Boom software for its entirely digital production of The Grimoire and Talisman 13 half hours of comedy adventure that brings its young medieval heroes into the modern world.
And appropriately enough, after so much wonderful new animation, the final day ended up with Wake Up Sleepy an intriguing and well-designed concept from another of the East European participants, Soffa Design from Bulgaria.
All that remained after that was to switch into party mood and head for the Cartoon dOr ceremony the annual award for the best short film chosen from those that have already won awards during the year at major European Festivals. This years winner of the 15,000 prize was Marc Craste from the U.K. for JoJo in the Stars. The runners-up were City Paradise by Gaëlle Denis (France), Falling by Peter Kaboth (Germany), Flatlife by Jonas Geirnaert (Belgium) and Little Things by Daniel Greaves (UK).
Bob Swain is an animation scriptwriter based at Sidewinder Films in the UK. He has attended every edition of Cartoon Forum since it began in 1990.
Ron Diamond is the president of AWN and the owner of animation production house, Acme Filmworks.