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Irish Film Board Cheers “Cartoon Boom”
23 Aug 2006 :
  Monster's Fluffy Gardens

With more Irish companies and projects heading to the Cartoon Forum next month, Simon Perry, Chief Executive of the Irish Film Board, has spoken about the recent success in the Irish animation sector.

In a statement issued this week Perry said: “Irish animation is now highly regarded on the international stage for producing award-winning films that are independently financed and made with great innovative skill. The Irish Film Board has been investing in Irish animators for the last ten years and has developed a large number of animation series with them. We’re delighted to see these projects attracting international financiers and broadcasters and ultimately reaching international audiences."

This comes in the wake of news that the Irish animated feature film ‘The Ugly Duckling and Me’ has been selected for screening at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival. In addition, Brown Bag Films’ animated TV series ‘I’m An Animal’ has become another success story for the Oscar nominated company, the series selling to over fifteen international broadcasters including Nickelodeon UK and National Geographic. Brown Bag have also announced a spin-off series ‘I’m A Dinosaur’ which will be showcased at the Cartoon Forum in Belgium next month.

The Cartoon Forum is one of the major events in the animation industry calendar. Production companies attending have an opportunity to pitch their projects to over 250 major international financiers and six major animated Irish TV series were pitched at the forum in 2005.

‘Fluffy Gardens’ (39 x 7’), produced by Monster Animation was one of these projects and has already pre-sold to Australia, the UK and RTE. Directed by Jason Tammemagi ‘Fluffy Gardens’ is still only at the production stage and more sales offers are expected on completion of the project. UK distributor Target Entertainment will be selling the project at MIP Junior in Cannes this year.

Another Irish project ‘Wobblyland’, created by IADT graduate Cat Little, received a standing ovation from the audience at the Cartoon Forum and was developed with funding from the Irish Film Board by Brown Bag Films. As previously reported on IFTN, Nickelodeon and Hit Entertainment (whose credits include Bob The Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine) have invested in the project and production will start in the Autumn.

Included among the new Irish projects lined up for the 2006 Cartoon are Kaveleer Productions’ adventure show ‘Garth’, features the brother and sister team of Garth and Bev, as a couple of time travelling kids who visit famous historical figures each week. The series is 52 five minute episodes and features the music of Kila and the voice talents of Ruth Negga and Morgan Jones. Kaveleer productions have recently grown from a staff of four animators to forty.

Ikandi productions will also be presenting ‘Joe and Jack’, a 26 x 5 minute animation series for Channel 5 in the UK and TG4. The series is aimed at the pre-school audience and is about two armchair thrill seekers who would like to conquer the world if they weren’t such scaredy-cats. The series will be directed by Corina Askin and was developed with funding from the Irish Film Board.

With more than an estimated 300 full-time and freelance animators currently working in the Irish animation sector, the industry is actually bigger than it was when the Sullivan Bluth US animation studio was based in Ireland during the early 1990’s. However, now Irish animators are creating their own indigenous projects and raising their own finance from international broadcasters, rather than working on projects created by a US studio.

Cartoon Saloon, the Kilkenny based animation studio are currently employing 250 animators, working on various projects including a major animated feature film ‘Brendan & The Secret of Kells’ and their TV series ‘Skunk Fu’. Other successful Irish animation companies include Telegael, Jam Media, Barley Films, Caboom, Del 9 and Boulder Media.

Aidan Hickey, who sits on the board of CARTOON, the organisation who runs Cartoon Forum said “It’s been a constant concern for the Board of CARTOON that only producers from the “big three” – France, Germany, the UK - could secure funding for their projects at the Cartoon Forum. But, ever since Cartoon Saloon presented Skunk Fu at the Cartoon Forum in 2003, this has changed. At a Board meeting after the 2005 Forum, I suggested that other small countries might emulate the success of the Irish studios… An experienced Producer - from one of the “big three” - shook his head and said, “Ah yes… but the Irish have talent… extraordinary talent!”. It’s fair to conclude that, building on what was learned from the Americans in the 80’s and early 90’s, our Animators have created a really strong base for themselves within Europe“.

The 7th edition of the Cartoon Forum runs from 20 to 23 September. Visit the Cartoon Forum website:www.cartoon-media.be

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