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Cartoon time for New Dutch Talent

Professionals attending Cartoon Movie (Bordeaux, 5-7 March 2019) took their collective hat off to the burgeoning Dutch animation sector. The event also introduced new Dutch animation producers to the business of networking and pitching.

“I came to Cartoon Movie with an open mind about what would happen and the people I was going to meet, but at the opening dinner I was shocked by the number of people and the size of it. It really was a shock - but quite a pleasant one,” comments young Dutch producer Sjors Janssen, currently studying at the ArtEZ Universtity for the Arts in Northern Holland.

“I was selected to come here by my school as they thought I had the most interest in production,” he continues. “I like to organise things and I like to connect people together and maybe that is what they saw in me… And now what I am trying to do is to make a network and find out how other people can connect people, connect writers with producers. I want to identify [within] myself how I’m going to do it. That is my quest at the moment.”

“Animation is great in presenting a feeling, it can expand the emotions that are expressed in live action,” Janssen underlines.

Producer Elyse de Waard, a graduate of HKU Utrecht, turned to production “because that is where I think I will be most useful, especially as I like to see the projects come alive, so it is really great to be here, especially with the masterclass presentations.”

De Waard pointed out how her “self-study” of animation production models generally throws up US examples that bear little comparison to the European experience. “So it was really great to have this masterclass by Bruno Felix and you see the really strong differences between the two models, especially concerning finance as you have to work with all these different countries [when producing in Europe]. Those were surprises for me that I didn't know before.”

For all the new talents, the opportunity to meet established Dutch professionals was a boon, even if this took place hundreds of miles from home. Furthermore, there was a sense that their choice of profession was validated by Cartoon Movie’s timely focus on their home industry. “I had never met Ton Crone [manager of the Dutch Animation Association as well as producer] before – it’s a great thing to return to the Netherlands now knowing all these people and having spoken to them and knowing what they are working on,” adds De Waard.

Producer Esra Karaman, a third year student at the Willem de Koning Academy in Rotterdam, agrees. “It has been fascinating to see how the industry operates and how people pitch but also to see the faces behind the Dutch animation industry and to talk with them and learn about their experiences, and if I have questions to ask they are happy to answer them. I really like that.” Karaman means to fuse animation with live action in her future career, “mainly concentrating on younger audiences but tackling social issues and things that you can learn from, mostly 2D but open to 3D.”

Thyme Grol (22) graduated from the Netherlands Film Academy in 2018 as a producer, specialising in 3D animation and stop motion film. He currently works part-time at the academy while dedicating the rest of his time to animation production, right now completing an augmented reality piece for a Dutch museum. “The network of the students here in Bordeaux is very important for me. They are my age and at the same level of experience. And I met many more Netherlands producers, and people from the Film Fund who are my first step into the industry.”

Karaman concurs: “It is really good to be here with a group, to have people with the same experiences, learn from each other and help each other out. It opens a lot of doors and inspires you to go further on this path. That gives me a lot of excitement and inspiration to continue.”

Concludes De Waard: “Getting to know your peers [was very beneficial]. Of course Bruno Felix was a great person to talk to but he is light years ahead of me, and before I can think of producing a feature there are so many steps to take. So in the near future it is great to be with people who are starting out at the same level, but it is really great to have something to aim for and work towards. This event has given us something to really hold onto in terms of where to go from here.”