Pitching animation in Cartoon Forum 2018

PITCHING ANIMATION by Elli Maanpää
I felt so privileged to attend the 29th Cartoon Forum in Toulouse France this September. Cartoon Forum is one of the largest international pitching forums in Europe for animated TV projects. Pitching in Cartoon Forum means that you present your animation project in front of an auditorium full of producers, broadcasters and investors in 20 minutes or less, to find financing for the project.

Every year they choose one country to be presented in the spotlight. This year it was the “happiest nation of the world”: Finland. Thanks to Cartoon Forum and Finnanimation thirteen Finnish animation students were invited to participate in the couching programme. I got the chance to represent Turku University of Applied Sciences among with two of my classmates Linda and Ilari and two alumnus Hanne and Janna-Riina.

Attending the coaching programme meant that on our first day in Toulouse there were lectures by Anttu the co-founder of Gigglebug Entertainment and Petteri the CEO of Anima – about pitching and producing animation. They were informative introduction to the event but the biggest lesson came from attending the pitching sessions non-stop for the three following days.

Most of the productions were in early stages but to be selected to pitch at the Cartoon Forum means that you have at least a trailer’s much ready. The production budgets varied from about 800 000 euros to 8 million euros.

Approximately 85% of the projects had a leading female character. I noticed also that lot of the projects were based on an older idea: either a children book or even a gif sensation from Instagram. Also it’s not enough to have “only” a TV project anymore – there’s often plans to stream the project in YouTube or create games, AR and VR around the idea.

When your pitching for animation you need to have stunning visuals to pack up your presentation. I loved seeing the visual development – from the rough sketches to the highly rendered concept art. Cool handouts were always a happy surprise – I especially fell in love with my Frida Kahlo bag for the Little People Big Dreams –project.

In total I saw 31 pitching sessions. Some of my favourites were Laïdak Films’ Mom is pouring rain. It was a Christmas special, drawn 2D animation, which tells a story with depth about a girl whose mom is hospitalised for depression. Another favourite was Rabbit from a Tin Hat by Origin Tales studio in Serbia. After seeing multiple super cute (but little repetitive) pre-school projects it was always a relief to see something aimed for adults instead.

At nights Cartoon Forum organised dinner events in beautiful venues. Good food and great wine. First I was terrified about the thought of mingling. It’s just something we are not taught in Finland: how to start conversation with strangers. But then I remembered Andy J. Pizza’s word from his podcast the Creative Pep Talk: “Don’t mingle. Make friends.”

So that I did. I got to know producers, investors, broadcasters, journalists around the world and other participants of the couching programme from Finland and France. New best friends were made.

The week in Toulouse was mind-bobbling. I was so inspired that it was hard for me to get any sleep at nights. Also congratulations for YLE for winning the year’s Broadcaster of the Year award.
Thank you for reading,

P.S. If you want to read the longer version of this blog post I invite you to my blog ellimaanpaa.com/blog
2nd P.S. Thank you Cartoon Forum and Finnanimation for the experience and the photographs.

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