H2V Bucks Trend With Three 2D Animated Features

At a time when 2D feature animation is currently under assault in the U.S., Montreal-based H2V Entertainment has proudly announced that its initial slate of three films are all in 2D and will be ready for distribution in April 2004. Not only that but MANGA LATINA: KILLER ON THE LOOSE, MONICA MADE IN AMERICA and PIÑATAS are all contemporary, Latino-flavored stories aimed at teens and adults.

"We have the resources to make the kind of animated films that appeal to our artistic sensibilities that also have commercial appeal," H2V co-founder, president and ceo Henrique Vera Villanueva told AWN. "Our content is different, more provocative [than what you see elsewhere], and we believe it would not be good to make these films in 3D. Unlike a lot of studios today who make 3D for the sake of it, we believe that 2D is more in keeping with the characters, emotions and environments."

H2V Entertainment, the brainchild of Vera, chairman José Antonio Ríos and José Luis Gil, president of international operations, believes it has assembled the talent, management and financing to thrive as "the Miramax of indie animation."

That's because for the past three years Vera, a leading Venezuelan filmmaker (RESCUE IN HONG KONG), has assembled a complementary international team encompassing every aspect of corporate, production and distribution communities. They include Manga Latina Prods. Inc. (Canada), Excalibur Animación S.L. (Spain), Animatoon (Argentina), Mirason (Canada), Concept -- E (Canada), plus distribution subsidiaries H2V Distribution (Canada) and H2V Releasing LLS (Ireland).

Over the past year, H2V Entertainment has signed alliances and output deals for distribution with Indigo Films (U.K.), Buena Vista International (Spain and Portugal), APTN Networks (Canada), as well as a partnership with CGC Cisneros Group Companies for Hispanic USA and Latin America. In addition, H2V Entertainment has signed strategic alliances with AP Comics (U.K.), Tree House Prods. (U.K.) and MCM Animation (Colombia).

Vera has personally created and developed several cross-platform entertainment projects, starting with the first three films, which are budgeted between $3.5 million to $6 million. MANGA LATINA, which is intended as a trilogy, is a Latin version of anime, in which a "Mod Squad" tries to solve a murder in El Barrio. It has a colorful, Pop Art sensibility. MONICA MADE IN AMERICA is a conspiracy thriller with a noir-ish look about a sultry undercover Homeland Security officer posing as an exotic dancer that inadvertently uncovers a corporate takeover plot. And PIÑATA is a political satire in which an opposition group is assembled paper limb by paper limb. It has a wild, fantastical look.

Daniel Brandt directs all three films and shares scripting duties with Kathryn Klassen, vp of operations and Hans Guevin on PIÑATA, which is co-directed by Alan Best. The animation director is Manuel J. Garcia. Best, co-founder of Animatoon, additionally serves as director of animation & operations, Canada. Garcia serves as director of animation & operations, Europe. He was previously director of animation, MSL Audiovisual in Madrid.

Because of the company's financial resources through equity investment and co-partnerships, H2V Entertainment is in the enviable position of waiting until the films are done to make distribution deals, keeping its options open.

Not surprisingly, armed with a versatile staff of animators at its various studios, H2V Entertainment is also dabbling in 3D animation. At present it is completing a satirical short about a polar bear for the end of next year, and is readying its next three features for 2005, including a computer-animated production.