Support for Animation Is Critical

13 June 2019

Film Industry

Support for Animation Is Critical

Especially in the Development Stage

Film Industry

Support for Animation Is Critical

Especially in the Development Stage

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Creative Europe supported multiple Czech animated projects over the course of 2014–2018 through the MEDIA program.

Article by Daniela Staníková for Czech Film Magazine / Summer 2019

Among those that stand out is the feature omnibus Of Unwanted Things and People, which is based on Arnošt Goldflam’s book of the same name and is scheduled for completion in 2021. In 2018 the project won the competition for animated feature pitches at the CEE Animation Forum and received the Eurimages Co-production Development Award this March. The film is a Czech-Slovak-Slovene-Polish coproduction. Creative Europe granted Of Unwanted Things and People with MEDIA Development support, which the project’s author and Czech producer Martin Vandas of MAUR film said was one of the main grants they received: “Thanks to MEDIA support I was able to help my co-producers with the comprehensive visual arrangement. We were also able to finish up the final look for the animation. The funding also helped us present the project at international panels. Thanks to MEDIA support, our co-producers also had better credibility with their own film funds and other institutions.”

The same goes for Vladimír Lhoták of Fresh Films, the company behind the feature film Even Mice Belong in Heaven based on the book of the same name by Iva Procházková. “Getting MEDIA support gives a project in development a certain degree of prestige and the access to international markets and fora is easier then,” he says. The feature-length amalgamation of puppetry and computer animation is a Czech-French-Polish-Slovak coproduction and is slated for completion in 2020. “The support of Creative Europe came at a key moment when we were just discovering what a complex endeavour developing a feature-length animated film is, both creatively and production-wise. The funding gave us the chance to take the project to most of the important festivals and pitching events in Europe and Canada where we found our co-producers,” Lhoták says, adding: “The association with MEDIA brings with it the support of established organisations and is a real boon to the confidence and ambitions of animation producers in the region.”

Příkaská, the producer behind the upcoming animated series Hungry Bear Tales, the first such Czech series to come about through an international coproduction with Czech TV as the minority partner. The pilot episode, Blueberry Hunt, won the Golden Slipper at the 2018 Zlin Film Festival. “Thanks to the support of the MEDIA Slate program we had time to thoroughly prepare, present, and finance the project and are now in production with the first season. We also went through a number of coproduction markets that were critical for our project,” says Příkaská.

Some of the projects that Creative Europe supported were also quite successful with viewers. For example, the 2017 feature-length animated 3D film Harvie and the Magic Museum became the best-selling Czech animated film in modern history.

The MEDIA Creative Europe program is a synonym for Europe in the best sense of the word for the producers of the animated films supported. “The Creative Europe program gives me a feeling of confidence and faith in my work, that it has meaning and gets results. For example, without that support, we would not have the CEE Animation Forum, which is fundamental for animation in our region. Fifteen years in the EU has meant confidence for countries in the middle of Europe, respect for ourselves and others, and key human and social values,” says producer Martin Vandas. Vladimír Lhoták from Fresh Films adds: “Creative Europe’s coproduction schemes make it possible to create things that wouldn’t stand a chance of being produced on the domestic market alone. The anniversary of 15 years in the EU means a stable mooring in the audio-visual arena in Europe (and elsewhere), the possibility of establishing equal partnerships, and the opportunity to develop one’s own creative content.” Bára Příkaská of Bionaut adds: “Being a part of Europe and the European market is essential for us as it allows for the creation of high-quality and ambitious projects with potential for international distribution.”

Producers of the acclaimed animated projects agree that the MEDIA program’s launch in 2003 came about at a key moment when public financing of audio-visual work was not at its current level and has since brought a great deal of stimulus both in terms of critical support for films’ developmental phases and elsewhere.

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