The Big Picture
There are simply too many exciting short-format projects to sum up in these pages — but we can try to tackle the expanding features line-up. Salma Hayek’s collaborative labor of love The Prophet will open the festival.
In competition are Adama by Simon Rouby ( France), Avril et le Monde Truque by Franck Ekinci & Christian Desmares ( France/ Canada/ Belgium), Mune by Alexandre Heboyan & Benoit Philippon ( France), Pos eso by Sam Orti ( Spain), Sabogal by Juan Jose Lozano & Sergio Mejia Forero ( Colombia), Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai by Keiichi Hara ( Japan), The Case of Hana & Alice by Shunji Iwai (Japan) and Tout en haut du monde by Remi Chaye ( Denmark/ France).
Disney- Pixar will encore its Cannes premiere of Inside Out, as well as offering a sneak peek at Zootopia and footage from The Good Dinosaur. More eclectic screenings include Ghost in the Shell: The Movie from Kazuchika Kise and Kazuya Nomura, animated documentary Magic Mountain, the resurrection of Richard Williams’ The Thief and the Cobbler, a preview of Folimage’s Phantom Boy and the first act of Ankama’s debut feature Dofus — Book 1: Julith.
Expect key announcements from the major players at the year’s most hotly anticipated gaming press conferences before the show floor opens.
Bethesda Microsoft Electronic Arts Ubisoft Sony
Anniversaries are always fun to celebrate, but as Cyber Group Studios is finding out, it’s much more fun to do so when your anniversary year is your most successful to date.
In the past year, the Paris-based studio — celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2015 — has seen tremendous growth in international sales and digital. Cyber Group Studios CEO Pierre Sissmann says the studio has expanded its sales all over the world and now boasts around 150 clients worldwide. Its digital business has been growing rapidly based on the strength of the catalog of about a thousand half-hours of programming.
And, perhaps most satisfying, the studio’s shows have sold to America, with the preschool series Zou airing in the United States on Sprout as well as on Hulu and PlayKids TV, while Mademoiselle Zazie and Ozie Boo are streaming on Splash Entertainment’s free VOD platform Kabillion.
“For us it was a big move as a French producer to get into North America,” says Sissmann.
Building on his experience in marketing at Sony Music and with Disney helping, among other things, found and run Disney Channel France, Sissmann started Cyber Group Studios 10 years ago with five people working in three rooms. Now the company has more than 200 employees and occupies its own building in Paris.
The company made a big bet about three years ago by expanding its presence in the preschool space, where it first found success, as well as expanding into shows for older children, in the 4-6 and 6-12 demographics.
Now the studio has at least 15 shows either in production or in development — and more
that it’s handling distribution on.
Arguably the studio’s flagship program is Zou, about a young zebra and his family, based on the children’s books by Michel Gay. The 52 x 10 min. first season was followed up with a second, which began airing just a few months ago and is being prepped for international broadcasts later this summer. A third season has already been requested, with writing set to begin over the summer, Sissmann says.
Also in production is the preschool series Mia, which has done well in France and has sold into more than 20 countries; and Ozie Boo, the studio’s first production, which still sells well. episode. The production also did extensive research to recreate 1820 California, including rebuilding Los Angeles of the era starting with a 1780 map of the nascent city. And that was just the start.
“It was a massive geographic effort,” he says. “We worked with Google Maps and we totally modelized the coast of California from Monterey to Los Angeles.”
Also in the 6-12 demo, Cyber Group is producing with TF1 Productions a series called Mini Ninjas, based on the Square Enix video game, that just began airing; and Mirette Investigates, for TF1 and WDR in Germany, a traveling detective comedy starring a 10-yearold sleuth.
For Mirette, Cyber Group is working on interactivity, partnering with KD Interactive, makers of the Kurio brand of tablets and phones for kids. That technology that will be presented at Cartoon 360 in Barcelona as an app that allows kids to receive clues and help solve the show’s mysteries as they watch.
The Upcoming Slate On the development side, Cyber Group is working on the third season of Zou; a series with France Televisions called Pirates Next Door, based on the books by Jonny Duddle; and a series called Gilbert and Allie with Ireland’s Brown Bag Films. Both are expected to begin production this year. Another series, a musical show, is in development.
Other shows in development include Boubouh, for ages 4-6, and Enchanted Sisters, for girls 6-8, both with The Jim Henson Co.; preschool series Gigantosaurus, also based on a Duddle book and set to be presented at Cartoon Forum; and a CGI version of Tom Sawyer that, like Zorro, will have a big story and mix 2D and 3D animation.
Cyber Group also is distributing a couple of shows: G-Fighters, an action series for boys 6-12; and The Long, Long Holiday, a series from Les Armateurs of The Triplets of Belleville and Ernest and Celestine fame about World War II from children’s point of view.
The company’s double-digit growth in the digital space has been a rewarding payoff for the investments the company has made along the way into its programs, says Sissmann. “It fuels the rest of the company by bringing us additional revenues, but it also validates our strategy, which was to produce series that will live for renewal, which is why — except for one small series, which is the first series we did — everything from 2006 on was produced in HD and we’re now producing in 4K.”
Sissmann credits the company’s growth to a number of factors, including building from within, investing in the quality of the shows and learning from mistakes.
“The philosophy of the company is to try to go further with the best people, the best partners and to be learning all the time,” he says. “I like opening new doors. I like challenging our team. I like challenging myself.” [