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Image of event Fam Animation 2015

Film London showcases homegrown animation in the capital

Date posted: 11.03.2015

For three jam-packed days last week, we hosted five top US animation executives in London to promote using the city for future productions. Check in with these top delegates and hear about what they found in our city:

  • Chapman Maddox, Director of Development, Kids and Family Entertainment at Fremantle Media
  • Cort Lane, Vice President, Animation Development & Partnerships at Marvel Television
  • Edward Noeltner, President at Cinema Management Group LLC
  • Frank Saperstein, Executive Vice Presendet at Tricon Kids, Family & Animation
  • Linda Simensky, Vice President, Children's Programming at PBS

The Animation Tax Relief - a year on

With its wealth of world-class talent and resources, underpinned by generous tax reliefs, London is a top destination for production.

The introduction of the Animation Tax Relief has extended London's offer even further, with companies now able to claim tax relief of up to 25% on qualifying animation expenditure, all with no minimum expenditure requirement.

As part of the trip, the visiting US executives met with media accountants from Grant Thornton and legal experts Lee & Thompson to learn more about tax incentives for animation in the UK.

"I haven't worked with a UK studio before, as I had the perception that it's expensive. But with the tax relief and amazing talent - it's opened my eyes," explained delegate Cort Lane from Marvel. "The UK has no minimum budget and has flexibility".

But it wasn't only the benefits of the tax reliefs that the executives found on their trip.  As UK producer Oli Hyatt (Blue Zoo Animation) explained, it was a chance to showcase the amazing creativity and talent in the city. "It's a chance to show that the UK can compete with price and talent".

Fremantle Media's Delegate Chapman Maddox agreed: "Not only is it a great place to take advantage of the tax breaks but there are lots of willing partners and people who are flexible and passionate."

Some of the executives had worked with the UK before, but all acknowledged how much the industry had grown and evolved since the tax relief was introduced in 2013. Tricon's Frank Saperstein said, "It feels like so much has picked up since then. It seems so vibrant."

Exploring the city

During their time in London, the US executives were taken on a tour of some of the city's most exciting animation studios, including Lupus Films, Nexus Productions, Squint Opera, Blue Zoo Animation and Double Negative / Prime Focus World Animation.

Chapman Maddox said, "Some of the visits made me think: 'Why aren't we doing this back home?!' It was good to see studios thinking more globally and proactively. Everyone was so excited and enthusiastic about finding global partners." Tricon's Frank Saperstein was equally inspired: "I had this epiphany moment with the team from Blue Zoo Animation. They're young, creative guys willing to jump off the cliff, break their leg and keep walking!"

"It was great for them to come to the studio," said UK producer Chris O'Reilly. "I've met executives in LA before but it makes such a difference for them to come and see our work."

Their final day in the city included a jam-packed series of pitching sessions by producers, which brought delegate Ed Noeltner to exclaim that he'd "come away with six potential projects."

It was useful for the UK companies too. "You get a feel of what they're looking for, but also what they're not looking for" explained Blue Zoo's Oli Hyatt. "It shows you how to change what to pitch. A trip like this pushes our studios for more".

Top talent

One of the highlights for the executives was experiencing the incredible breadth and talent in the city.

"I'm embarrassed that I didn't know the level of talent here," Cort Lane admitted. Ed Noeltner agreed, "It was inspirational to see people make the tech fit the ideas, and not the other way round."

Cort Lane and Linda Simensky agreed that it was the UK producers' backgrounds in short films and advertising that had built such an impressive industry. "I was astounded by the level of creativity," Simensky said. Lane explained, "In advertising it's the best idea that wins, not the best price. And this is really evident in the culture here."

The Film London experience

Everyone involved in the trip explained how important such a bespoke service is to encouraging co-production.

"It was great to meet with new people that I wouldn't have met with before. The guidance by the Film London team meant I could meet with people who were not on my radar. It was mind opening!" Ed Noeltner said.

"We all really bonded with the team at Film London - it was bespoke and personal" Frank Saperstein said. Noelter agreed: "I've been to a million of these before and this is the first time we've had such personal touches."

UK producer Chris O'Reilly was also left with a positive feeling for the future. "It was a really good selection of people - they weren't just looking for services or facilities but also for a partnership."

This trip forms part of Film London's strategy to grow the animation industry in the capital and is supported by the Mayor of London.

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