A year ago, French and other European animation professionals gathered at
the third "Crossroads of the Image of the Indian Ocean" to discuss European
cartoons. At this event, financing is always a hot topic of discussion.
France is the third largest producer of animation worldwide, after the U.S.
and Japan. Production itself has greatly developed in recent years with the
proliferation of television channels. In 1988 there weren't any 26
half-hour episode series being done in Europe, now there are dozens every
year. French companies meet the needs of these new domestic television
channels and have recently exported a few shows as well. What exporting a
show does not add to the bottom line, it more than makes up for it in
prestige. However, one weakness in France rests in the virtual absence of
distributors that contribute to production financing. With only a few
exceptions, distributors assume none of the risk and this partly explains
why France actively seeks international co-venturing.
Korean, Hong-Hong and Taiwanese production companies were very well
represented at this year's MIFA (Annecy International Animation Film
Market) and some of them were actively seeking to make co-production deals
with European companies. This is definitively a new business trend which
will in some cases provide French animation companies with significant
complementary funding. Meanwhile, French companies continue to turn to
North America, as illustrated yesterday in Los Angeles. TVFI, a trade
association supporting the international sale of French TV programs,
together with UK-based company MediaXChange, presented a French Animation
Evening, with a screening of "La France s'Anime" ("France Gets Animated"),
a compilation of 19 French TV series pilots. These encounters successfully
brought together European producers with American producers and TV buyers.
According to Christian Davin, President of the French Federation of
Animation Producers, the opportunities for co-production between the two
continents have multiplied, while the cultural gap that separates them is
less important. Americans are less reticent than they used to be regarding
artistic collaboration, and it's no longer rare that a series conceived in
Europe can find partners and markets across the Atlantic. Plus, France does
offer some special advantages: In addition to funding from the European
Community, France has the distinction of benefiting from the financial
support of the CNC [The National Cinematography Center]. Thanks to various
financial mechanisms, a French production can benefit from financing by the
CNC for 20% to 30% of the costs of a production made in France. For that
reason, France is very appealing to other countries. Regardless of the
motivations, it will be interesting to see how the animation market evolves
within the continued globalization of the entertainment industry. And from
the agitation prevailing at the World Trade Organization Conference right
now, international co-venturing might not be as easy at it seems...
AWN's Annick Teninge reported on the third "Crossroads of the Image of the
Indian Ocean" conference in the
1999 issue of Animation World Magazine
, Valérie Rivoallon profiled France's National Center
of Cinematography and discussed the many opportunities, including that all
important funding, that the organization provides to its native filmmakers.