Mary Bredin and Emmanuèle Pétry, two well-known and respected TV animation development executives, co-presented the Keynote address at this year’s Television Animation Conference (TAC) held this past October 20-21 in conjunction with the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Mary is VP, Development + Acquisitions for Guru Studio in Toronto, Canada. Prior to Guru, she spent a decade in London with Viasat and Disney. Emmanuèle is an independent development and production consultant who spent 17 years with Nelvana and 2 with Millimages in France prior to setting up her own consulting practice, Libellule Animation.
Their keynote focused on some of the realities of cross-cultural and cross-time zone co-production collaboration. Mary and Emmanuèle have allowed AWN to republish part of the presentation, a humorous and insightful “tongue-in-cheek” glimpse into the challenges co-production partners face in producing an animated series.
A Personal Co-Production Dialogue
Emmanuèl: Allo Mary? Allo???
Mary: Hello, for English please press 1, for French please press 2. If you know the extension of the person you are trying to reach please dial it now, if you need the directory, please type 3....
M: Hello. Hello. Emmanuèle. No answer? They must all be at lunch still. How can an ENTIRE office go for lunch at the same time....Geez...
E: Allo Mary?
M: (sleepy voice) Hi, who is this?
E: (cheerful) Emmanuèle.
M: (upset) ... you know what time it is? It’s 5 am. Too early! ..... I’ll call you back.
M: Hello, Emma? Such a BEAUTIFUL DAY here!!
E: Mary, its pouring rain in Paris... hum... Sorry I can’t talk it’s Friday 4pm .. It’s RTT time, but I really want to tell you about this really great show I am developing – I think it’d be the perfect project for us.
M: What’s RTT time?
E: You know we can only work a 35 hour work week now, by law..
M: You’re kidding.
E: Yes, by law!
M: Ok. Well OK – let’s talk next week. I really missed catching up with you at MIP TV - it was too bad I could not go this year. Anyway, I can fit a call in on Thursday. Does that work for you?
E: Oh dear. I can’t do Thursday because it’s a “Pont” but you really will love this pitch!
M: A “pont”? Like a “bridge”? What does it have to do with work - something to do with ‘bridge’ financing or ...?
No. It’s what we call it when we have a holiday on the Wednesday so we take off the Thursday and Friday to make it a 5 day weekend. Get it - it bridges the days off.
M: Five day weekend. 5 day weekend. Anyway, I would love to hear your pitch. Definitely. I have a great show idea too. Can we talk over the weekend? We’re friends after all - we can talk on the weekend?
Well, my husband hates it when I have to take calls on the weekend. You know he gets sooo jealous. Don’t take it personally – it’s not just Canadians.
M: Well, my blackberry doesn’t get jealous. I can do weekends.
E: Get a life. Anyway, can you fit me in on Monday?
M: Oh dear. I am coming back from the cottage on Monday – trying to avoid the rush hour traffic. The 400 is “red” on Sunday’s – isn’t that what you call highways that have really bad traffic - so everyone takes Monday off too. But I’d love to hear what’s going on... let’s do it the week after.
E: Mary the expression is actually a “red day” not just the one highway - it affects the whole country...
M: OK. I will talk to you then about the project. I really love it.
E: HI Mary, ca va?
M: Actually I have a sore throat. Air conditioning too high.
E: Mary, Cartoon Forum asked me to do a key note about ‘co-productions’ in Ottawa – will you help me?
M: You mean tell them all the boring details of how co-production treaty’s work and why no one uses twinning anymore?
E: No no we have to make it somewhat entertaining, I was thinking more about a conversation about our experience.
M: So more like a ‘case study’ - how our experiences worked and the struggles of trans-Atlantic cross-cultural communication? French-Anglo relations. We Canadians understand that really well.
E: Sure, stories of us trying to work together over the past 15 years – all those times we had arguments. That’s gotta be real information for people.
M: Do we really want to go into our dirty laundry for the sake of a speech? Do you have that expression in French? Dirty laundry? Lavage sale? My French is so bad. It could be funny - what with you being French and all.
E: And you being Canadian and all.
M: It’s the layering thing. Culture. And then personality on top of it. And your personality.
E: I will take that as a complement. Should I tell everyone what year I started at Nelvana and that this is actually our 20th anniversary and that the 15 year thing is an illusion.
M: Emmanuèle, I thought you were my friend.
M: This is just going to depress everybody.
E: By the way Mary, I’d like to discuss the deal. We need to discuss the main terms just so we’re clear and see that this co-pro can work.
M: Sure; let’s Skype.
E: Oh please no. Well, we’ve tried that. As you know. And well. The sound goes. And well the picture goes and I’d say let’s just do it on the telephone. As usual. Or if you really want to - we can Skype for the picture and use the phone for the voice.
M: Let’s just use the phone then.
E: And to be honest it’s a bad hair day:
M: OK. Let’s talk about the budget first – what were your thoughts?
E: I had a look at it and I just don’t understand how the executive producer fees are so high?
M: (starting to get upset) do you think I am paying myself too much money? Is that what this is about? I thought you were my friend? Next you are going to tell me you want to work with a Quebec producer. You know you speak the same language. You laugh at the same jokes. Do they love Jerry Lewis in Quebec too????
E: (backing off) It’s OK. It’s OK. I am sure they are standard fees. Let’s discuss that later. And Mary, can I ask you a question: how come we have the smaller piece of the budget and the larger amount of work? Remember there’s something called the “social charges” in France; that’s an extra 55% in addition to the base salaries??!! AND don’t forget we’re losing the French super bonus because of you!
M: What’s the super bonus? Sounds like a lottery? Why because of me??!!
E: Well, the CNC, French government isn’t supporting Canadian co-pros anymore. So they give extra money to productions made 100% in France.
M: OK. The French government isn’t helping us. Any other thoughts on the budget?
E: Hey who is this other coordinator on line 358? The cleaning lady?? And don’t tell me you put in your costs for your Xmas party?
M: I thought you were my friend.
M: And i have a few comments on some of your costs too - take these writers fees – what are all these extras? Seems expensive to write a script in France?
E: Well, maybe but our designs are much cheaper! You just need to be careful about the “droit moral”, that’s all.
M: “DROIT MORAL”? What do you mean - morality? No sex and drugs? We have that here; it’s called standards and practices.
E: No! Droit moral means you have to respect an artist’s work otherwise he can pull his stuff out.
M: Wow, you mean we don’t own the artist’s work – there’s a union for artists as well? Do they strike and demonstrate like everyone else? What do you do if you need to change artists? You can’t?
E: Sometimes I wish we could...! But ...It’s a “challenge” isn’t that the word you use? Well as we didn’t have time to discuss the creative, I will just email it all to you. You’ll love it.
M: I read the material. It’s great. But i have a few questions on the script.
E: Give me the truth. I can’t take it anymore when Canadians have to be NICE and don’t tell you what they really think.
M: Oh Emmanuèle that is the other Canadians. I am your friend. I am sure this project will work in Canada! It’s great.
E: OK let me know what the broadcasters say as soon as you can!
E: Hi Mary.
M: Hi Emma, How are you?
E: Mary, can you do me favour and proof read my bio for me.
M: Sure. But it’s going to cost you.
E: Um. Mary you still owe me from the 3 months you stayed with me in Paris.
M: Emmanuèle that was 17 years ago.
E: So did you pitch it to the CBC? What did she say?
M: We have a problem... they say it looks too “French”.
E: (starting to get upset) Mary. You know I hate it when you say that – what does it mean exactly? Because it looks too artsy?
M: (not wanting to open that can of worms): Um. Well, um. Maybe. I think they say that when they don’t know what else to say.
E: Well, then does that mean we have to make it more “American”???
M: Hey! I’m not sure if it’s “American” you know we are “Canadian”.
E: You mean it has to be more commercial? More mass market? Based on a toy? For the HUB?
M: Bad news. I don’t know how to tell you this. The broadcasters have said no. I am really sorry about that but they really liked our project. Do you want to hear about it?
E: Well wait, that’s a real catastrophe. We have France 3 on board. You can’t let us down now!!??
M: I know. I know. It’s not good. But stop whining. Let’s look at this as a challenge. We can still consider my project? I mean did it have to be a French project for our co-production? It’s all about team work.
E: Whining. I am not whining. VA TE FAIRE VOIR. Don’t be so damn positive all the time. It’s really getting on my nerves.
E: (embarrassed): Mary. MIPCOM is next week. I don’t want to stay in Juan les Pins. Do you mind if i share your room? Last time I promise.
Emmanuèle can be reached at: Emmanuèle Petry Libellule Animationepetrysirvin@gmail.com+33 (1) 64 24 84 10