Mar 272016
 

Happy Sunday! My housemates and I in Rotterdam are recovering from an Eastern Sunday dinner we threw last night, and I swooped in from the train station just in time for it. Yesterday I was traveling from Paris, where I spent two weeks for the last session of Animation Sans Frontières, the professional training program I’ve been participating in since October. That’s right, it’s sadly over! (Click here for a report about on session #1, #2 and #3).

Conference Center hallway, Cartoon Movie, Lyon.

Conference center hallway, Cartoon Movie, Lyon.

In addition to the two-week Paris module, a few of us had the opportunity to attend the Cartoon Movie conference in Lyon at the beginning of March. This two-and-a-half-day event was packed with animated feature film pitches in all stages of development. It was a really useful exercise for us to see what types of movies are being created, and the various pitching styles. Something we noticed is that very few people stood when making their pitches, most sat behind the table, which we thought was rather un-dynamic, and hardly anyone asked any questions.

Romanian director Anca Damian contributes a statement to a pitch she is helping produce, Cartoon Movie. ASF participants pointed out in yellow. Photo by Cartoon Movie.

Romanian director Anca Damian contributes a statement to a pitch she is helping produce at Cartoon Movie. ASF participants pointed out in yellow. Photo by Cartoon Movie.

The most interesting projects being presented, in my opinion, were a film-noir with a very graphic style called Domenica, directed by Ugo Bienvenu and Kevin Manach, and produced by Miyu Productions, and a film called Nayola, directed by Jose Miguel Ribeiro and Jorge Antonio from Portugal and produced by them, SOIL from Belgium and an Angolan company called Geracao80. Nayola is a film about three generations of women in the Angolan civil war, and seems like it will use some magical realism to tell its story.

It was also really interesting to see the presentation about Dutch artist Rosto‘s upcoming feature called Mind My Gap (co-produced by Paris’ Autour de Minuit and Amsterdam’s Submarine), which was definitely the most unconventional project at the conference. Rosto’s style is characterized by mixed media (live action, some puppetry and 3D CGI animation), non-traditional narratives and dark and violent story lines.

A few weeks after Lyon we all found ourselves in Paris for the last module of our program. For these two weeks we were really working up to our big practice pitches on Friday, which would be in front of a special group of invited animation producers and distributors. We were hosted by Les Gobelins, a well-known and industry-oriented animation school in Paris. We were lucky to hear lectures from talented people such as Eleanor Coleman, a producer with Indie Sales, and Alexis Hunot, an animation historian, blogger, podcaster and general knower-of-everything.

Most of the group in front of some church in Paris. Photo by Christoph Rasulis.

Most of the group in front of some church in Paris. Photo by Christoph Rasulis.

We also heard from the director, assistant director and producer for an in-progress feature film called Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, based on Haruki Murakami short stories and characterized by an experimental approach.

Our pitches on Friday went very well (stay tuned for more official photos). Out of fifteen participants we ended up with twelve presentations: two feature films (mine included), one trans-media project, one app, one interactive book, six short films and one TV or web series. I am so proud of my fellow participants! Over the two month program we all developed the content of our projects and put together coherent, effective and engaging 10 minute presentations about them.

We all have goals for our projects: short term they are using our skills to pitch at official events, like perhaps Annecy’s MIFA pitching forum, or the IDFA Forum or Cartoon Movie next year. Another goal for a lot of us is filling out our team with producers who can help us put financing together. Some projects from past ASF years that have become reality are the feature film Adama released in cinemas last year, another feature in production called Funan, about the Cambodian genocide, and short films galore.

I’m really proud of all the work I’ve done on my feature film over the past two years, and I hope I can share more about it in the near future. If you’re curious about it, send me an email at tess [at] tessmartinart.com and I can send you more information privately.

For all you animation directors, producers, screenwriters and technical directors out there, the deadline for the 2016-2017 ASF program is June 10th!

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