A Steady Diet of Ghibli
A— the famed animation studio’s adaptation of the novel by beloved author Astrid Lindgren.
s one of the most-admired animation studios in the world, Studio Ghibli generates a lot of worldwide interest on every project it releases, and the TV series Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter is no exception.
The 26-episode serial adapts the 1981 novel by Pippi Longstocking author Astrid Lindgren, and is directed by Goro Miyazaki.
NHK, NHK Enterprises and Dwango produced the series in collaboration with Studio Ghibli and Lindgren rights-holder company Saltkråkan. Polygon Pictures animated the series, which premiered in Japan in 2014 and won an International Emmy Award for Children’s Animation.
Representing the series worldwide — outside of Japan and Scandinavia — is U.K.-based distributor Serious Lunch, headed up by industry veteran Genevieve Dexter.
“The magic synergy of Goro Miyazaki and Astrid Lindgren is very powerful storytelling and Ronja is an excellent female role model,” says Dexter.
Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter is a coming-of-age story about a 10-year-old girl born into a loving band of robbers. She discovers the forest is both a beautiful and frightening place inhabited by strange creatures, and also befriends the son of her father’s rival, setting off drama around her friendships and family loyalties.
“I felt that I should create for children the sort of things I used to watch as a child, now that I’m an adult,” says Miyazaki. “With Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter, the great old dame Astrid seems to be telling children to believe in their own power to grow, all the while telling both children and adults alike to respect each other and to attain freedom in the true sense of the word. Nothing will bring me more pleasure than if I could convey those very messages through this adaptation.”
Dexter says Miyazaki’s father, Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, has long been influenced by Lindgren’s work and wanted to adapt Pippi Longstocking to anime. “You can definitely see Stockholm when you watch Kiki’s Delivery Service,” she says.
Ghibli titles have strong appeal across Europe and beyond. “I think a lot of the European references in Ghibli films have made them very approachable for wider audiences, and Ronja is no exception,” says Dexter. “Goro’s bold move into long form series obviously marks a brand new departure.”
Dexter says the Emmy win gave the show international visibility, and the show’s serial structure makes the chance to sell digital rights especially appealing. “This is particularly attractive to VOD and EST platforms, although traditional broadcasters will, of course, also pick up the series,” she says. “The English version is being dubbed right now in London and will premiere in the U.S. and U.K. this December. We will make some announcements shortly.” [
TLearn the ins and out of the business from masters Butch Hartman, Jose F. San Román and Sander Schwartz at the 2016 World Animation and VFX Summit.
here’s no better way to learn about the ins and outs of the global animation and visual-effects businesses than from the people who’ve been out there innovating on the front lines and steering companies to new levels of success.
The World Animation and Visual Effects Summit — its fifth edition slated for Oct. 31Nov. 2 at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, Calif. — is putting this premise into practice with a stellar lineup of master classes to complement its two-day course of panels and networking opportunities.
Master class sessions at previous summits have earned rave reviews from attendees for providing in-depth discussions full of exclusive insights direct from the masters of the creative and commercial sides of the animation and VFX industry.
The 2016 summit upholds that tradition in announcing its master class presenters: Butch Hartman, creator of such hit series as The Fairly OddParents; Jose F. San Román, CEO of Ilion Studios; and veteran animation executive Sander Schwartz.
Here are the details on this year’s master classes: • The Secrets of Butch Hartman’s Success: How to Pitch, Develop, Produce and Distribute Animated Hits that Resonate with Audiences Around the World. The award-winning creator of Nickelodeon’s hugely popular series The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom and T.U.F.F. Puppy will share useful secrets of his craft, and his unique approach to animation and storytelling in this one-of-a-kind master class. With an eye on the future, Hartman will discuss the many possibilities of app development and new ways of creating entertainment for YouTube, Vine, Vimeo and other nonlinear outlets. He also will address finding new ways to pitch ideas, exploring successful storytelling methods and using innovative and less expensive animation tools to produce your projects. In addition, he will offer a production case study of his new Flash-animated series, Bunsen Is a Beast, which will debut on Nickelodeon in 2017. Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to meet one of most innovative and prolific TV animation masters of our time. • Jose F. San Román: Discovering a New Asset Class to the Financial Community. Román offers in-depth review of the financial performance of animated features over the past few years, with particular attention paid to animated tent-pole features and how they are grabbing more attention than many big live-action films. An experienced investment banker, Román also will explore the implications for the animation industry of the box-office success of animated features worldwide. Román joined Spain-based Ilion Studios in 2011 with the goal of establishing the company as one of the world’s top independent animated studios. Ilion produced the 2014 film Mortadelo y Filemón and has a deal to produce tent-pole animated features in partnership with Paramount Pictures. • Sander Schwartz: Survival of the Fittest: Creating Innovative Animation Content for the Global Market. This course will provide a deep dive into the current landscape of animation buyers in key territories around the world and how to collaborate with them in the development and production of new shows. The structure of co-productions with networks and other buyers of animated content provides the main focus of the course, although other means of getting shows green-lit and financed will also be considered. Of particular interest to many creators and producers is the growth of opportunities in the China market, as that country has become more open to co-productions and cooperation with IP owners around the world. Looking at recent developments impacting the business of animation in China and analyzing how to best enter it from an IP owner’s perspective will be discussed, as will strategies for finding partners for projects that may find audiences both in China and the West as well.
As in previous years, the summit will feature two days of panel discussions, networking meals and cocktail parties, all amid the sea air and ocean breeze of the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey. Panel topics and panelists are expected to be announced starting Sept. 1; check the next issue of Animation Magazine or online at www.animationmagazine.com/ summit for updates.
The summit again will honor some of the most iconic and successful people in animation and visual effects at an Awards Gala. This year’s gala will be held Nov. 1 in the Casa Del Mar Ballroom at the luxurious Shutters on the Beach hotel, overlooking the beach and Santa Monica Bay. Awards recipients will be announced along with a full schedule in the next issue of Animation Magazine and online at www.animationmagazine.net/summit.
The summit expects to sell out, so early purchases are encouraged.
Full Summit Access tickets, which include the Awards Gala, and single-day tickets are now available at a discount through Sept. 30. Separate tickets for the Awards Gala will be made available depending on availability.
See you there! [
El Festival will hold only its fifth edition when it convenes Sept. 6-11 in the resort city of Cuernavaca, about an hour’s drive south of Mexico City, but it’s already making big waves connecting the global animation industry with the burgeoning talent of Mexico.
This year’s festival, put on by the group Pixelatl, is attracting such big names as Georgina Hayns and Steve Emerson of LAIKA; Shannon Tindle, director of Google’s On Ice; director and producer LeSean Thomas; Bento Box’s Joel Kuwahara; Joan Lofts of Peppa Pig and Humf fame; and execs from the likes of Cartoon Network, CBBC, Sony Pictures Animation, Disney and Nickelodeon.
Events-wise, the festival is expanding its co-production forum to include feature films as well as television, and visiting delegations of seven studios from Spain and 20 from Quebec are due to visit.
We caught up with festival organizer José Iñesta to preview this year’s edition of the growing event. Animation Magazine: Which guests do you think will generate the most excitement and interest in the festival this year? José Iñesta: The LAIKA team generates lots of excitement here in the animation community, which has been historically stop-motion. Having Georgina Hayns and Steve Emerson is like a dream come true for these animators. I’m personally excited about the producers and SVPs that will be reviewing original content developed by Mexican studios. Animag: How have previous winners of these events fared in getting their work produced and seen? Iñesta: One of the special mentions last year already aired on Cartoon Network and another property called Villainous will screen on Cartoon Network in September. In fact, (the creators) will show some of their work in the festival this year. In addition, the winners from 2014 and 2015 were optioned and another three properties are under development. Animag: What feedback have you heard from international studios and guests about the quality of the Mexican animation you present at the festival? Iñesta: They are amazed! Cartoon Network opened an office in Mexico to see pitches and oversee production because of the talent they found at the festival. Also, Nick and Discovery Kids jumped in with their special contests because they want to produce with local stu- dios as well. Moreover, being able to attract Spain and Quebec studio delegations in order to find partners to co-produce or outsource services in Mexico shows the world that we have a passionate industry that is increasing in terms of volume and quality. Animag: Talk about the comics-animation connection in Mexico. Do artists in Mexico move freely between comics and animation? Iñesta: Our focus in the festival is original content creation and we know properties can come from graphic novels, comic books, toys or video games. That’s the reason we aim at comics at the event. Our focus is on art and storytelling. Comics, animation and video games are essential sources of original content that can cross platforms fairly simply and in inexpensive manners. Animag: Who attends the festival? Students? Professionals? Fans? How many attend? Iñesta: Animag: What is the most challenging part of putting on the festival? Iñesta: There are two challenging parts. The first one is finding the funding, because almost every activity has a sponsor behind it, and the other one is to program such a large event. Our programmer, Christian Bermejo, does an amazing job at researching what are the local market needs in terms of what technique or process is lacking so that part of the festival covers that. In addition, the challenge of adding interesting conferences and panels that will reach a wider audience and make the festival sustainable. Full details on El Festival can be found online at www.elfestival.mx.