Running a business has never been easy. With the multiple rules and regulations involved, co-productions have been tougher. The panel on ‘The Business of Animation: A global team effort’, shared their experiences on setting up and going forward with their business models in the animation industry, including television production and feature length theatrical animation films. The panel was represented from across the stratum of the animation sector, with speakers from all fronts – broadcasters, producers and developers.
Moderated by Tapaas Chakravarti, Chairman of FICCI Forum for Animation & Gaming and Head of DQ Entertainment (Global), the session had speakers like Theresa Plummer, MD, Plum Trees TV, UK; Dominique Poussier, Head, Global acquisition and Co-funding, TF1, France; Pritish Nandy, Founder, PNC Ltd; and, AK Madhavan, CEO, Crest Animation Studios.
Presenting an overview on the way of working of the Indian animation industry at present, Chakravati stressed on the growth of co-productions involving companies from multiple countries that has resulted in charting successful products. Pointing out that despite the improvement in technologies, the production budgets had increased, instead of coming down, he added, “Nowadays, writing ‘scripts’ has been replaced with writing budgets and script plans. As a result, creativity has taken a little back seat in some instances.” Reasoning the growth of co-productions, he stated that “companies are looking to spread risks and increase geographical areas for exploitation”.
Talking from a broadcaster’s perspective, Plummer noted the tough situation European animation producers were in, following the regulations imposed on them concerning the advertisers. Cautioning about the downsides of co-productions, she opined, “One rouge entity can spoil the entire product, and co-productions with new partners are always a gamble.”
Sharing some of the points to be considered while pitching for a show with the broadcaster, she noted, “Broadcasters will select a concept based on the quality of animation, international appeal of the IP and storyline, and the demand and supply changes of genres.”
Giving a producer’s perspective was Poussier, who went on to agree with Plummer on the condition of French animation producers, who would be facing a tough time owing to a prohibition on airing food advertisements during shows targeted towards children. “The French television market is much regulated while the animation market is highly protected. The regulations state that there should be 1,000 hours of programming targeted at children every year for broadcasters. As a result, animation has a huge potential in the country.”
Observing that co-productions were the way forward for them in France, she further explained, “Commissioning an animation show does not work as a business model for us, it’s just an investment option.” In France, regulations do not permit broadcasters to pre-pay animation work to retain many rights on the produce.
Talking with his experience in the feature film industry, Nandy started off with the history of company and drawing parallels between the working of Bollywood and the animation industry in the country. Showering appreciation on the multi-country co-productions being inked in the animation industry, he noted that these kinds of co-productions had never been achieved in the Indian film industry, internationally or even locally. Observing that “success of Bollywood is due to freedom of imagination,” he went on to further add that animation would further open up the imagination of Bollywood in the coming years.
Proclaiming that animation industry would help in creating movies that would have something for people across all ages, he further noted, “Animation will take Bollywood cinema to a space yet to be imagined and will be incredibly successful all over the world.”
Madhavan, popularly known as Max in the Indian animation world, shared his experience of working with international partner for his animation feature films. Stressing on some of the vital points to be considered in a co-production, he enlisted the importance of having a production pipeline that would deliver the product, as paramount. “Finance is possible to get, and sometimes easy, but distribution is also very important,” he noted.
The growing penetration and the confidence exuded by the animation fraternity are surely going to translate into stupendous growth for the medium in the coming years. Co-productions between local or international partners will not really matter after a certain point of time.