A MIFA Must See
written by Brenda Wooding
This was my first time at MIFA (Marche International du film d'animation) and I could not have been more pleasantly surprised by the experience. Taking in the splendor of Lake Annecy's turquoise waters while meeting friends for cocktails in an ancient village immersed in a steady flow of creative energy was invigorating.
Having spent the majority of my career selling cartoons to broadcasters around the world, I normally attend the standard international markets like MIPCOM Jr., MIPCOM, Kidscreen and MIPTV. On occasion, I work into the travel schedule a trip to Toy Fair, Comic-Con and Licensing show. Although often set in great locations such as Cannes and NYC (I promise you I do not get much sympathy from my significant other), these markets can be pretty. My schedule is typically jam-packed with meetings every half-hour from the moment I land to the moment I get into the taxi to head back to the airport. And can they make a week seem like a lifetime.
But going to Annecy was different. Maybe it was the location. And maybe it was because I came with a clean slate with no grand expectations and an open mind in search of opportunity. But I picked up on a steady flow of creative energy circling the air carried by the excitement of festival attendees and, no matter where I went, I was surrounded by consummate talent. I even got to meet famous animators such as Matt Groening and Bill Plympton. And it occurred to me that this special little spark is missing at typical industry conferences. It was like a breath of fresh Alpine air that guided me through the complex and often challenging world of pre-production financing.
At Annecy, I felt rejuvenated by the animation love-fest that reminded me of why I expend so much time and energy in this business. I love working with creative people too and help make their visions come to life. To that end, I went with a bag full of new ideas for series; all from top tier talent who have worked for or created shows for the major studios here in LA. People like Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life and Camp Lazlo; Martin Ansolabehere, award-winning animation artist ,who has worked on Foster's Imaginary Friends and who is currently on Adventure Time; Obie Scott Wade, award-winning creator of Julius & Friends and SheZow, who is currently developing a feature film with Stan Lee; the highly sought after writer Darrick Bachman, whose credits include Chowder, Samurai Jack and PowerPuff Girls; as well as the talented and prolific creator/writer, Mark Palmer, who worked on The Wild Thornberrys and Kim Possible.
With a focus on connecting with international broadcasters and producers, I met up with people like Lucie Léger of Télé-Québec and my dear colleague from Canal + France, Sophie Boe. I shared ideas with producers I would be honored to collaborate with like Brown Bag from Ireland, Red Kite of the UK, Samka, Folimage and Timoon Animation from France. And while I was there, I checked out some of the latest technology from Toon Boom and screened shows in 3-D by studios from France, Korea and India, including Method Animation's The Little Prince.
What I did not anticipate was the spontaneous meetings I had with new creators who were there for the Festival. People like Bernard Derriman, a talented animator from Australia who won an all expense paid trip to Annecy for his short, Pop! (which won the YouTube award). I also met Will Krause, a creative artist/animator from Brooklyn, who once wrote a comic book about Heather Kenyon; and there was this amazing husband and wife team from Belgium, who run a company called Ministry of Animation.
The meetings I had -- both scheduled and unplanned -- were more meaningful, more in-depth and more productive than any other market I have attended.
To say I left my heart in Annecy is an understatement. If you have not been, I highly recommend it. And if you do go next year, look for me because I plan on retiring there!
Brenda Wooding has nearly 20 years of experience in program financing, co-production and international distribution. She specializes in helping creators find financing and distribution for their intellectual property. With an extensive network of contacts and experience in animation, Wooding has helped many individuals and companies to successfully position and sell their properties to the world market. Her company, Los Angeles-based B Wooding (www.bwoodingmedia.com), distributes children's and factual programming