A Look At Europe's Cartoon Forum with John Bullivant
(continued from page 3)

Siri Melchior being interviewed.

HK: Cartoon Network Europe is almost a completely separate entity than Cartoon Network in the U.S.

JB: They look to buy large amounts of European content, and they're also looking to co-produce just for Europe so I would agree. I think the market has moved on from where it was when Cartoon Forum was initially set up and it needs to move with the times. It may need to be stricter on the criteria for submitting projects. I know it has a hard time keeping the number of projects down because they get pitched about a hundred and I think they can only take about 75. You don't want people to say, 'Time is precious and it's not worth going because I never see anything good.' That's going to be an issue in the future -- maintaining people's interest. But you can balance that with as I said exotic places and plenty of good drinking venues. Then most broadcast people will turn up for a couple of days.

HK: It's the same with events in L.A., you get distracted, but when you're in Annecy, you're stuck in Annecy.

JB: (joking) It's a nightmare, isn't it?

HK: (joking along) Oh, it's awful. I hate it with all that good French food, by the lake, in the Alps!

JB: I think it's good to take a little step away from the office and the day-to-day grind of 10,000 emails. It can actually be quite productive in terms of how it liberates your brain and what it allows it to think. If you just keep your nose pressed against the computer screen that's all you ever focus on.

HK: You come back energized from events. How do you think more U.S. people will be allowed to participate in the Forum?

Inside the pitching room. Another look into the pitching room.

JB: That's a decision for the organizers of Cartoon Forum. I don't know what this kind of unofficial lobby is saying, but I would predict yes. It's just a question of what criteria they'll let in basically.

HK: You're not the only person then saying this would be helpful.

JB: I don't think so. I think maybe it's unfair to say but it's the people who operate on the international stage and understand how the shows actually get financed who are probably more in favor of it. A lot of the smaller producers are scared that they will get squeezed out if they let the big bad North Americans in. They feel like they'll get out maneuvered because they've got smaller resources. I think that's polarizing the debate but that's fundamentally the two extremes. Investors who are not allowed to sponsor projects shouldn't get access to them in advance. They'd only get to see the projects when they are presented which is their motivation to be there. I think that would be a prudent next step that would protect what the Forum set out to do but also allow small independent producers access to money from big players.

HK: It would allow more access to the U.S. market.

JB: Absolutely.

HK: A terribly hard thing to get.

JB: It is. For a director there's an opportunity for him to be picked up by Nickelodeon, U.S. or Disney if he is so-minded or for his studio to be rated and seen. There are upsides and downsides. I'm not saying that Europe has suffered at the hands but American products have been exported massively into Europe. It's cut across our industry. The industry is changing now so Europe is becoming a much stronger force. The last thing you want to do is shoot yourself in the foot just when the playing field is starting to level out by bringing in the Trojan horse as it were.

HK: How does Cartoon Forum tie in to MIPCOM?

JB: Cartoon Forum is very close to MIPCOM which adds stress actually because the bigger companies, distributors, broadcasters and other players, have to plan two schedules at the same time. It varies, sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes it's not. MIPCOM is a follow up if you haven't done all the business. If there's strong interest in your project you can have those follow up meetings because fairly rapidly everybody comes together again. That's fortuitous in some ways. The danger is if it gets too close. Often you need a month between these things for projects to move on, conversations to be had, things to be fine-tuned so that you can actually have something new to say, but it ties in very well generally speaking.


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