ANIMARKT is a unique yearly stop-motion pitching event
I am lucky to get to do many interesting things. Far and away my most rewarding project every year is to coach pitching at the ANIMARKT Stop Motion Forum, a creation of Momakin. This year along with expanding ANIMARKT to include feature films and television series, the StopMoLab was added to Momakin’s educational roster. It is a nine-month-long educational training program for people just out of university who want to enter the stop motion industry. It utilizes internationally known professionals as mentors and instructors.
ANIMARKT is a unique yearly event. It is the only platform that creates networking possibilities for stop-motion filmmakers, distributors, producers, animation service providers, and industry representatives from throughout the world. It also fosters co-productions.
The four-day event is crammed full of activity. It is comprised of three main components: masters, pitching, and business. Participants could choose from a number of master classes to participate in. Ana Chubinidze, illustrator and animator from The Republic of Georgia and the creator of such lovely films as The Pocket Man and Franzy’s Kitchen taught a master class on how to make paper cutout puppets.
Everyone wants to be an animator and a director, and students often forget that there are many other fascinating jobs that go into making animated films. Angela Poschet is a line producer extraordinaire who worked on such projects as Frankenweenie and Isle of Dogs. Her most recent project was working as the line producer of the Netflix production The House. Angela was on hand at ANIMARKT to give participants inside insights into the film’s production and talk about what a line producer does.
Ilan Urroz, President, manager and producer at the French production house Foliascope presented a master class about how to build a film audience. Ilan and Foliascope were part of the production team of the feature film No Dogs or Italians Allowed, which won the Jury Prize last year at Annecy and took home the Best European Animated Feature Film Award at the recent European Film Awards.
Urroz is also an Executive Producer on The Inventor, a feature film about Leonardo da Vinci, written and directed by Jim Capobianco. Also on board are three-time Academy Award nominee Tomm Moore as 2D animation consultant and Stephen Fry, who will voice di Vinci. It should be an interesting project.
There were also several panel discussions on topics ranging from Green Filming in Stop Motion to a Women in Animation round table.
The business arm of ANIMARKT is dedicated to creating industry contacts and networking. It also offered recruitment sessions for studies, internships, and work on stop-motion projects. The days began with Industry Breakfasts, which offered an opportunity for informal meetings. The Stop Motion Regions Conference gave participants an opportunity to present their projects to specially invited guests. Each person was given fifteen minutes to present their project.
Meet Your Partner is designed for individual meetings for South American, Central European and Eastern European producers. It is designed for the participants to have individual meetings with producers from Balkan countries to promote partnerships and co-productions.
The Job Fair was created as an excellent opportunity for stop motion animators to present their portfolios to five premiere stop motion studios. The studios were 5 A.M. Studios in The Netherlands, Beast Animation in Belgium, Maur Film in the Czech Republic, and Estonia’s Nukufilm which is the oldest still running stop motion company in the world, which was established in 1957. Meetings with the fifth studio, Laika in the United States, were conducted online.
For me, the heart of ANIMARKT is the pitching competition. It is also the reason that I am in Lodz. I am the pitching coach, and Nik teaches stage presence and microphone technique to the participants, and we both work at calming down their nerves.
There were fifteen short film projects. In addition, for the first time this year, feature films and television series were added. Along with the fifteen short film projects there were three feature film projects presented and eight television series for a total of twenty-six projects in all.
The members of each project, usually the animator/director and the producer, each received an hour of private consultation with me plus more time if needed. This year ANIMARKT initiated a new system where I first met with each project separately via Zoom a couple of months before their arrival in Lodz. I explained to them what to expect and what I expected from them which was to arrive prepared and ready to give me their pitch. We would then fine-tune it in person. This turned out to be an excellent idea. It was especially helpful for people who were pitching for the first time or who were not very fluent in English. I felt that the overall quality of this year’s pitches was exceptionally high. I was very proud of the hard work that they all put in. We are going to keep the initial zoom meeting as a regular fixture of the pitching process.
Because I am rooting for everyone to do well I don’t pick favorites or vote for the audience award but there are always some projects that stand out to me. Embroidery is not a common medium for animated films. Director Alejandra Jaramillo and producer Ximena Araya came from Chile to present their eleven-minute film project Embroidered Body which utilizes embroidery to tell a very personal story.
In their adult animated documentary; Angélica tells her daughter, who she calls “her little birdie”, about how she was born. The film portrays the process of putting into words and illustrating how the most important experience of her life became traumatic because of the obstetric violence she suffered. Angélica filed a lawsuit, and the agreement that all the lawyers reached was for financial compensation, but in exchange, Angélica was to not speak about what had happened to anyone.
As her daughter grows up, the need for her story to come out into the open also grows. This film is for her daughter and about healing with embroidery in motion, so she can sew together the truth.
During their pitch, the ladies showed several examples of the embroidery that will be used to tell the story. They told the audience that the delicate work will be done by Chilean women. Not only will the film tell a poignant story, it will also provide much-needed income for local women.
Embroidered Body was awarded the Animond prize for marketing, audience, and financial consultation. The award is given by the Serbian-based Animond, a private investment fund focusing on the development and production of animation that is distributed throughout the world. The project also received the short film Audience Award of Dragonframe software. I am sure that we will be hearing much more about this project in the future.
Izabela Plucinska is no stranger to anyone who loves animation. Known for her Claymation which often deals with social issues in ironic or humorous ways, Izabela’s films have won numerous awards including the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Jam Session.
Izabela and her producer Grzegorz Waclawek were at ANIMARKT to pitch their work in progress, Joko. Based on the book Joko’s Anniversary by the French surrealist writer and artist Roland Topor, the story is a fable about the loss of identity and a satire on social conformity that asks disturbing questions about how we define ourselves.
Izabela and Grzegorz are in the enviable position of already having their 244 547 Euro budget secured but they pitched their project hoping to find a distributor, sales agent, broadcasters, and/or interested festivals. They were lucky enough to receive the Radiator IP Sales Distribution Award which will give them festival and international distribution services.
The big winner at the Awards Ceremony was Bulgarian-born Lina Kalcheva who is currently based in England. Her pitch for Dawn Chorus about a sleep-deprived young woman who must confront the unexpected visitor that plagues her every waking minute and threatens to push her over the edge was an excellent example of how a pitch should be structured and presented. Lina’s hard work paid off and she was awarded 60 000 PLN, the in-kind contribution as a coproduction sponsored by the Audio Visual Technology Center in Warsaw.
In the Feature and Television Series pitching session, my curiosity was piqued by director Joanna Jasinska Koronkkiewicz and producer Anna Mroczek’s presentation of Dr. Hau. The series of ten episodes of twenty-six minutes each, aimed at a mature audience, has a buddy theme with a twist.
The story revolves around a narcissistic professor who dies and on his way through the transmigration of his karmic journey he finds himself in a dog’s body. His human companion is a young veterinarian named Bercia. Together they solve veterinary mysteries and discover secrets of human and animal bonds. Along with an excellent pitch that left me wanting more, their artwork was outstanding. The audience was as intrigued as I was and awarded Dr. Hau the Feature and Television Series Audience Award of Dragonframe Software. There is a complete list of winning projects at the end of the article.
In previous years the winners have been selected by a jury of people involved in different parts of the animation industry. This year the choices were made by the people/companies that gave the awards. I think that this system seems to work much better. The companies seemed to have done an excellent job of matching up a project’s needs to what service they have to offer.
Momakin is the organization behind ANIMARKT. It combines the world of making animated films with international distribution and promotion. Momakin is the brainchild of three dynamic young women, Agnieszka Kowalewska-Skowron, Katarzyna Gromadzka, and Pauline Zacharek. ANIMARKET Stop Motion Forum is produced and programmed by Momakin partner Agnieszka Kowalewska-Skowron. It is supported by the International Visegrad Fund and Momakin.
The StopMoLab, much of which was carried out via zoom, is designed to provide support and foster the talents and skills of young people entering the animation industry in areas that are not usually emphasized in school. From the numerous applications, five animators, five puppet makers, five directors, five production managers, and five screenwriters from around the world were selected for the program.
The program is made up of three main modules. The Skills section hones in on the development of professional skills, the Business section focuses on developing business skills including discovering new trends and business models, and Go Green fosters increasing pro-environment awareness.
Although most of the sessions were held online, the group did meet twice in Lodz, once in July and again in October during ANIMARKT. Online sessions were conducted by such noted names in the animation world as line producer Angela Poschet; script consultant Anna Bielak; independent producer Oliver Catherine; stop motion animator Tim Allen; and independent animator and director Juan Pablo Zaramella. Nik was also part of the StopMoLab online sessions. He taught the participants the valuable skills of stage presence and microphone technique.
I am the pitching coach and mentor for the StopMoLab. For two days before ANIMARKT began I met for an hour of one-on-one pitching coaching sessions with individual StopMoLab participants. One morning I had the honor to be the Lab’s breakfast motivational speaker. Over a delicious breakfast I talked to the group about the realities of life in the animation industry, the do’s and don’ts of selling yourself, and why learning to pitch is an important skill to have no matter what branch of animation you choose to work in. They were a very enthusiastic and talented group and I am looking forward to following their career paths. While the Lab participants were in Lodz, they could also attend a puppet-making workshop, a design workshop, and a workshop on how to alternatively finance a project.
The StopMoLab is headed and programmed by Momikan’s Pauline Zacharek. It is financed by The European Union from the Creative Europe Media Program.
With the addition of the StopMoLab at the same time as ANIMARKT the entire event moved to the Academic Design Center which offered a lot of space to spread out in. I had a large, quiet room with a lot of windows at the end of a long hall. It was perfect for pitching because I have to listen very carefully to every word that my pitchers say and some of them were nervous and spoke in little tiny voices. The Center also offered an in-house café space where delicious lunches and dinners were served. Drinks and snacks were available all day. I especially appreciate that because I began coaching at 9 in the morning, going until 19:00 with short breaks every hour and a half or so.
Lodz is home to the only film school in Poland. The city has been the center of film production since the beginning of the development of cinematography. It is also home to a magnificent film museum that houses a collection of over 50,000 exhibitions. The museum also has a jewel box of a theatre. The pitching awards ceremony was held there.
After a hard day’s work, there were screenings of films from the Lodz Film Commission collection in the museum theatre. The evenings ended at the 6 Dzielnica Club. With ANIMARKT and StopMoLab participants joining forces to party, 6 Dzielnica had lots of space for us all with two bars and plenty of tables, chairs, and sofas spread over six rooms of a large high-ceilinged old apartment on a main pedestrian street.
Nik and I want to thank Agnieszka Kowalewska-Skowron and Pauline Zacharek and all of the wonderful staff for inviting us to be part of ANIMARKT and The StopMoLab. I am already looking forward to meeting the 2023 group of people selected to pitch and to once again be part of the ANIMARKT/StopMoLab team. A special thank you goes to Katarzyna Gromadzka, one of Momakin’s three founders and their Executive Producer. During our stay in Lodz, she coordinated our transportation and made sure that we got to every place that we were supposed to be on time and back to the hotel after the nightly parties.
The date for the next ANIMARKET has not been set yet but it should be around the first weekend of November. You can find out about how to apply to pitch your project at ANIMARKT 2023, apply for the next StopMoLab, or learn more about the services that Momakin offers on their website: www.momakin.pl
LIST OF AWARDED PITCHING PROJECTS
Linda Kalcheva from The United Kingdom for Dawn Chorus - 60 0000 PLN – the in-kind contribution as a coproduction Sponsored by the Audiovisual Technology Center
Alejandra Jaramillo from Chile for Embroidered Body – Industry accreditation for MIFA 2023 at Annecy
Claudia Munksgaard-Palmqvist from Denmark for Visualization of a Cut – Industry accreditation for MIFA 2023 at Annecy
Juan Camilo Fonnegra from Colombia for Monstruo Comepalmeras – APA Lab Residency Award
Alejandra Jaramillo from Chile for Embroidered Body – Animond Award of marketing, audience and financial consultation
Izabela Plucinska from Poland for Joko – Radiator IP Sales Distribution Award of festival and International distribution
Carina Zidan from Bulgaria for Houston? – CEE Animation Forum Award of qualification to the Out of Competition pitching in 2023
Feature Films and Television Series
Gabriela Villalobos and Sebastian Bisbal from Chile for Sissi & Ceasar - Kids Kino Industry 2023 Qualification
Gabriela Villalobos and Sebastian Bisbal from Chilefor Sissi & Ceasar – Industry accreditation for MIFA 2023
Vincente Mallols from Spain for Carmela– CEE Animation Forum qualification to the |Out of Competition pitching in 2023
The Audience Award for a Feature or Television Series went to Joanna Jasinska-Koronkiewicz from Poland for Dr. Hau – Dragonframe Software
The Audience Award for a Short Film went to Alejandra Jaramillo from Chile for Embroidered Body - Dragonframe Software