London is home to world-class talent, production companies, technology and infrastructure. Combined with telling fresh, diverse and authentic stories, the animation sector is a vital part of our capital’s unique creative ecosystem.
This was led by success stories such as Channel 4's charming animated adaptation of Quentin Blake's Clown, and Lupus Films’ and Harper Collins’ adaptation of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, which was watched by 5.2 million people - 365% over the slot average - when it premiered on Channel 4 in 2019.
Film London CEO Adrian Wootton recently sat down with five senior American studio executives - Allison Abbate, EVP of Warner Pictures, Nickelodeon's SVP of Pre-School Eryk Casemiro, Founder of Keylite and producer Chris de Faria, Lionsgate Family Entertainment EVP Ken Katsumoto and Halle Stanford, President of Television at Jim Henson Company - for an animation webinar. Together, they explored why Hollywood’s studios and networks are turning to London’s animation studios for creative development and to deliver production services across features and TV series. Here, we give you a run down of what was said.
Why the UK/ London?
Described as a "creative playground", all five execs praised the UK's genuine passion and dedication to animation from an extraordinary pool of talent of both big and small studios - from puppetry to voice recording and technology.
"100% of the animation for the new Tom and Jerry film was done in London and that was a testament to London talent and bespoke skills." Chris de Faria
"I was taken by the spirit for the kids business - more centred on the art than the commercial success. There are risks being taken in terms of artistic style, comedy and narrative." Eryk Casemiro
"The UK has the ability to be a one stop shop."Halle Stanford
Building the capital's talent pool
With rising competition from other countries offering production incentives, the panel discussed what else could be done to attract international productions to the UK, with a focus on creating schemes to help develop smaller companies.
The capital's smaller studios were praised for their strong sense of brand and unique artistry, and development schemes would allow these new, and/or smaller companies to build a track record which would then assure big budget studios that they can deliver.
"It's in the hands of the boutiques to grow, collaborate, combine and increase scale." Chris de Faria
"Track-records are well deserved, but they have big price tags. Development incentives will help companies sort through projects and get up to speed with training. Enthusiasm is there, we just need to fund it." Ken Katsumoto
"You have to think about a lot of incredible mid-level talent who aren't being sent on trips/meetings because of budget. So, showcase on your website all you have to offer, create online opportunities and virtual field trips - networking is key, and mid level talent sometimes suffer. Spend time, share ideas. That creative spark can be achieved on zoom, not just in the room!" Halle Stanford
Skills and getting into the industry
With Film London working on a London-wide creative skills plan, talk turned to how budding animators can get a footing in the industry, and how skills and training can be inclusive to all. The panelists agreed on the importance of a portfolio demonstrating well-thought, genuine characters, but also encouraged exploring a wide range of roles such as production management or animation casting.
Transferrable skills were also valued, with the animation industry increasingly utilising other screen industry sectors to inform and develop processes and practice such as the games industry for technology, and Film and TV Drama writers for characters (Eryk Casemirohired mostly Drama writers for Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys).
"Harness new technologies and teach these at schools to make students aware of the types of jobs etc. How are we seeding the next generation of artists and going out to schools to embrace new technologies and the medium." Allison Abbate
Final Words of advice?
"Just do. You can do so much at home. Success comes from preparation for opportunity." Chris de Faria
"Stay true to your story and who you are. Whether you are a small studio or a writer with a crazy character, don't chase trends, stay true to you. Film London can help!" Eryk Casemiro
"Cheer yourself, but cheer on others too! Get engaged with everyone." Halle Stanford
Whatever you are looking for in animation London can deliver. Whether you are considering setting up a studio here or looking for the right partner for your project, we offer free advice and guidance on all aspects as the project progresses through to delivery.
Contact our animation team at firstname.lastname@example.org