A Look At Europe's Cartoon Forum with John Bullivant
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Visby in Gotland, Sweden, a beautiful medieval city containing seven magestic old churches interspersed among quaint red-roofed homes, which line the narrow streets inside of the walled town.

HK: For more discussion and to meet again.

JB: Or possibly to finalize a development deal, a co-production deal depending on how advanced the project is and what the appetite for the property is. These things always happen at the next big market. More time in between the two also makes planning your life a damn sight easier. It's a crazy thing, you do have to factor that in because people get fed up. They're trying to go to all these events, organize their lives back home and do the job they're supposed to be doing. There's only so much flying around you can do before you start going mad.

HK: Do you attend Cartoon Movie?

JB: I haven't been. Our chief executive, Peter Volkle, went this year so I don't know that much other than it's the movie equivalent of Cartoon Forum. It's building in significance -- I think it's going to go from strength to strength -- and the nice thing is it can attract an adult audience, whereas Cartoon Forum attracts essentially a children's buying audience. The feature film industry covers everything really. You can present family concepts or action-adventure concepts that only play to an older audience.

HK: Do you think the events should be combined?

A small crowd admires a beautiful ocean view from the host-city of Visby. Hobnobbing in the courtyard.

JB: I suppose you could combine them but you couldn't have them running simultaneously. You'd have to start one and then follow into the other. I think the danger is that it's going to take a whole week and that means you spend a whole week at Cartoon, you spend a whole week at MIPCOM, a whole week at MIPTV, you might go to NATPE -- it really does start taking chunks out of your diary. I think to be honest they should be kept separate. Funding an animation series is completely different from a feature film. There are a few video companies that are a common link, but broadcasters don't really need to be there. There's not that many that buy animated feature films or come in and co-produce. It's a whole different set of people who get involved in the feature film industry. The link is purely animation and the studios representing the producers. I think it would be a mistake to combine them.

HK: In the U.S. though, oftentimes a TV series will spin out of a feature.

JB: The animated feature market is dominated by the U.S. Live-action too whether it's Godzilla or Men in Black. That's part of franchise building. The European film industry is not at that level. You know you're not going to see the animated series of Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Full Monty or Billy Elliot for example. We're not producing movies that have those kind of TV spin-offs at least not in the kids' business. We're still trying to build a competing European industry.

HK: But what about Help! I'm A Fish? It is doing so well. We are hearing about it all the way in the U.S.

JB: Exactly. I think more and more shows and films like that are going to happen and it will become an increasingly popular event. Are American investors allowed into Cartoon Film? I would hope so 'cause if you don't bring in American film distributors more often than not you can pack up and go home. That's where all the money is in terms of the film industry. I should imagine 80 percent of the money spent on films now is coming out of America. Depriving yourself of that kind of financial support is perverse almost. Why make life that difficult for yourself when it's nigh on impossible to get a feature film off the ground as it is?

Festivities under the tent included trailer screenings along with daily meal services.

HK: On the lighter side, I heard that Gotland has some pretty mean miniature golf courses -- did you manage to get a game in?

JB: I didn't no. Not because I don't play, but because I'm a dedicated professional! Actually, I'm one of those sad people that never manages to get their life sorted out to take advantage of all the facilities. The locations are a treat and every year I come away thinking, "God, why I didn't play mini golf?" But I never think about those things until I get there so it's too late. Either that or it's just the producers who can afford to have fun, since they present their show then have time off. The rest of us have to check out everything just in case we're missing a diamond.

Heather Kenyon is editor-in-chief of Animation World Network. After receiving her B.F.A. in Filmic Writing from USC's School of Cinema-Television, she went to work for Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. Currently, she is an International Board Member of Women In Animation and on the Board of Trustees for Trees for Life.


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