This article by games and animated series producer Pablo Jordi was first published in Spanish and Catalan on PROA's website on December 16, 2019. It provides an insightful view on what can be done to help our talent and creativity blossom in Europe and sheds a light on the importance of investing in marketing and creating coherent policies across our territories.
©European animation looking at itself in the mirror, from Antoine Doinel in Truffaut's "Baisers volés"
European animation is a blooming. From Helsinki to the Canary Islands, there are abundant and variated productions going on. These latest years have brought us a ridiculous amount of great, funny, bold, precious, political animation films, as well as high end animation TV series made in Europe. And the audience is starting to acknowledge it.
The spectacular irruption of new SVOD operators is not the only cause of such effervescence. For years, tireless producers, programmes like MEDIA or Eurimages, associations like Cartoon, Emile Awards or Animation in Europe have been preparing the ground for the current situation.
The present time of productive euphoria presents a golden opportunity to confront with ambition and optimism the challenges that we face:
The unequal treatment that animation is given across Europe makes it hard for producers in countries with a “high production capacity” (I.e. France, Italy, Germany, Spain, etc..) to collaborate with the ones in more modest ones. To facilitating all flavours of co-productions is a way to preserve Europe’s diversity of voices. MEDIA is actively working on it. Other initiatives on a regional level (for example from the Nordic, East European animation producers’ associations) can support those efforts. A.L.I.C.E. is a good example of such type of initiatives.
Suffering precarious working conditions is unfortunately a common trait among the European animation professionals. This collective presents a high level of geographical mobility and intermittence in the working periods, with talented people moving around Europe in search for the next production. We need transnational policies that recognise this modus vivendi to offer stability to whoever wishes animation to be a livelihood in our continent.
Despite the media impact of some recent productions (think the Oscar Animation nominations of "Klaus", "I lost my body"), the average European citizen has a scarce knowledge of the animation industry. There is a lot of work to do on the marketing side. Through our own films and series, we can also contribute an imaginary of European Animation. If you don’t believe me, look how certain Hollywood movies feed the Hollywood myth.
Piracy and the popularity of sketchy “VPN” services among the European public is irritating. Instead of criminalising the audience, we must offer a valid alternative. Enable international ambitions for local VOD platform success stories like Filmin? Coordinate efforts of the public “VODcasters”?
In order to instigate policies in Europe and in each of the member states we need a common strategic vision that orients them. In order to seduce the audience, we need to convey certain common values.
As Europeans, it seems like “sitting down to talk about our identity and values” is our fate, whether it is about culture, foreign or territorial policy…
The conversation between animation producers is ongoing, but already we seem to share certain wish to make an impact on the content that our children consume, to make it reflect certain values we believe identify with the idea of Europe: diversity, democracy, human rights. There is also a common desire to create jobs and to promote a healthy entertainment industry. Not bad for a start!
What’s your insight on these issues? What challenges and opportunities do you see for animation in Europe?
This article first appeared on PROA's website and newsletter on December 16th, 2019.