Cartoon creators woo money men

Seven hundred European animators and television bosses are locking horns at Gwynedd to launch the cartoon heroes of the future.

The continent’s most creative cartoon makers are gathered for three days from Wednesday to show off pilots and pitch new series to 250 investors looking for co-production partners.

The meeting on the Faenol Estate is organised by the European Union media development programme Cartoon Forum, which visits a different country each September.

Eighty brand new animation projects are vying for slices of some 290m euros swishing around – money which could get six new Welsh ideas, and a record 31 UK pitches, onto screens around the world.

The event’s choice of Wales as a meeting point is testament to the growing admiration the country acquired in animation over the last 20 years – mainly the result of broadcaster S4C helping finance homegrown talent.

Demand for hotel rooms in Llandudno has outstripped supply with creatives and commissioners from 15 countries rubbing shoulders with crew members for the forthcoming Tomb Raider 2 movie, which begins filming in Snowdonia on Wednesday.

“In Wales, you cannot fail to be inspired,” said Cartoon Forum officer Alexandra Tholance.

“Legends abound. It is an astonishing place of fairly cartoon-like spirit.”

The forum is neither a festival nor a fair, but a space for animators and TV bosses to meet and agree finance for co-production – sharing the burden and selling their work across Europe in several languages.

Previous forums have seen 250 cartoons win 630m euros in funding with ideas making the transition from drawing board or five-minute pilot to final full series production.

By Friday, several deals should have been concluded and hundreds of new comic characters will leave Wales a step closer to enjoying idol status in thousands of youngsters’ eyes.

Animating Wales

In Wales, the animation industry is worth between £5m to £10m and employs at least 200 people, according to Superted creator and Welsh Animation Group chair Robin Lyons.

The independent sector has burgeoned since the creation of S4C 20 years ago, when it commissioned Superted from Siriol Productions of Cardiff.

“Despite a downturn in animation generally, things are holding up well in Wales,” Mr Lyons told BBC News Online.

“We have the talent here, but somehow have not yet managed to create a real industry. We’re working on it.

“S4C do a lot to support animation, and we are attracting contracts from outside Wales.

“Cartoon Forum gives us all an opportunity to show what Wales is about, and to showcase some of the projects being developed here.”