“Journey to Your Country”, “Lights!” and “Sex Symbols” stood out at Cartoon Next, a new event launched by the European association Cartoon Media to explore the increasingly hybrid reality of the animation industry as well as other current cutting-edge trends.
VR, Extended Reality (XR), cross-media and IP extensions were the hallmarks of the event.
In a format similar to Cartoon Springboard, which focuses on a new generation of animators, at Next, creators and producers also present projects to a host of top experts who offer suggestions on how to improve development or completion of titles.
Among those experts present at the inaugural edition of Cartoon Next were Japhet Asher, founder of the British consultancy and creation company IP Polarity Reversal; Orion Ross, Vice President of Original Programming and Animation at Disney EMEA; Aymeric Castaing, founder of the French company XR Umanimation; Luce Grosjean, who launched the French company Miyu Distribution, dedicated to young talents and student films; producer Sébastien Onomo at Special Touch studios in France; and producer Anna Schur, head of content at Spanish game animation company ZeptoLab.
Of the eight projects presented, one targets viewers of preschool age, another children aged 6 to 9; three aim to appeal to tweens, another trio targets an adult/young adult audience.
France is participating in four productions, Spain in two and Italy, Slovakia, Belgium, Lithuania, Slovenia and Austria in one. Three projects are in development, three in concept and two currently in production.
Projects pitched during the first Cartoon Next:
“Astrid and the Astronaut School” (Lumiar, Italy)
The humorous adventure of a seven-year-old albino girl who grew up in a small house by the sea with two astronauts as parents, who mysteriously disappeared when she was little, leaving her in the care of her grandmother. Created and produced by Federica Carbone and directed by Anita Verona, an edutainment series in development consisting of 52 episodes.
“Eyes of Shame” (Joni Art, Lithuania; Insomniak, France; Institute for Transmedia Design, Slovenia)
Designed as a VR feature film aimed at providing an immersive and empathetic experience of mental disorders, “Shame” follows 14-year-old Eyeless admitted to a hospital specializing in problem adolescents. Eyeless suffers from behavioral disorders and anorexia. In development.
“Right here” (Patrones y Escondites, Spain; Umanimation, France)
Targeting young adults/adults, the in-concept project offers an interactive, non-linear detective story about a retired comic book artist found dead in his home. The room is locked from the inside and the murderer has disappeared without a trace. This thriller approach is formulated as a VR game. Directed and created by José Calabuig, Aymeric Castaing and Beatriz Osorio.
“Journey to Your Country” (BFilm, Slovakia; ThePack, Belgium)
Designed as a feature film for children, “Journey”, already in production, is structured as a cross-production offering a VR experience, a mobile game, a book and other IP extensions. The story follows 10-year-old Riki, who runs away from home, following an enigmatic emergency signal that leads him to the parallel world of “Yourland”. Peter Budinsky and Jef Dehouse co-direct.
“Lights!” (Les Films du Tambour de Soie, Small Creative, Auteurs et Cies, France)
An immersive virtual reality tour offering an experiential approach to the history of illumination, from the humble candle to 21st century LED lighting. A non-verbal proposal with a multi-layered soundtrack designed to offer an interactive, nocturnal journey through time. Created by Agnès Bovet-Pavy, Fabien Bourdier and Jean-Baptiste Marot.
“Sakamon Castle” (Mondo TV, France)
Project in concept targeting preteens. An 11-minute, 52-part sitcom depicting various situations in a hotel run by a deeply incompetent director, who is actually a bag of turnips brought to life by a magic spell.
“Sex Symbols” (TV On, Admirable Films, Spain)
Directed and produced by Paloma Mora at TV On, this 13-episode show focuses on a group of children going through puberty, who begin to ask their first questions about sexuality and the changes they are going through. Created by Cesare Asaro.
“Subtopia” (Curio & Co., Austria)
A 40-minute, 10-part series depicting a dystopian universe in which freedom and privacy are lost, except in an online game for kids called Subtopia where player avatars can enjoy freedom. At the design stage.
The keynotes focused on The Next Generation: New Voices in Animation and New Collaborations, during which Patricia Hidalgo, Director of BBC Children’s and Education, highlighted the new BBC Ignite initiative, set up to seek new ideas provocative and new talent in animation.
Other panelists included RAI Ragazzi Executive Director Luca Milano, RTE Children and Youth Content Manager Suzanne Kelly and Katalin Radoczy, Vice President of Programming, AMC Networks International. All underlined the search for innovation in animation formats at their respective broadcasters.
During another panel, Anime – the inexorable rise of the genre – What’s Next and How Can Producers Meet the Growing Demand? Jerome Mazandarani, an anime expert, with help and research from Amit Devani of Parrot Analytics, EMEA, opened up the figure of a 118% increase in global demand for anime over the past two years, “making it one of the most dynamic genres of content during the pandemic.
Some pundits said they believe anime will soon become a mainstream genre and could be a game-changer for European animation producers, with anime [creating] newly invented concepts.
Other panels touched on topics such as neighboring countries that could prove most advantageous as co-producers, the Asterix franchise and the future of publishing. There was also a case study on “Arcane & Fortiche”, a successful alliance between video games and animation, in which Netflix’s hit series “Arcane” – based on the game “League of Legends” – was been analyzed and the art conception of the announced second season has been sketched out. Riot Games recently announced an investment in animation studio Fortiche.
The next Cartoon Media event, Cartoon Forum, dedicated to TV shows, will take place from September 12 to 15 in Toulouse.
Since 1990, Cartoon Forum and then Cartoon Movie have supported 1,326 projects representing an overall budget of 5 billion euros (5.4 billion dollars).