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John Rice

John Rice
Jam Media
Pitching: BeddyByes

What is the biggest issue facing the animation industry right now?
Shortage of production talent is the biggest challenge Jam faces at the moment. While we don’t have issues in retention, attracting new talent has become, almost overnight, a key concern. Remote working, which I once considered to be an opportunity, has become a potential threat, with the talent pool becoming more diluted as international productions, outside of kids and with bigger budgets, access local crews. I wouldn’t quite say it’s at crisis level yet, but it is a worrying trend.

What is your company doing in response to this?
Clearly defining our company culture and values. People want to work with companies that have a strong and authentic value system, are proud of the work they produce and take care of their people; companies with a culture of creativity, support and collaboration, where people can progress and grow as both individuals and artists.

Furthermore, we offer our people flexible hybrid working conditions, competitive salaries and opportunities to progress. We have great relationships with colleges both domestically and internationally through our Animation Dingle festival and are in the process of enhancing our apprenticeships schemes.

How do you see the rise of the metaverse impacting animation?
One can’t ignore that a wide adoption of the metaverse is coming, and it offers tremendous opportunities for existing IP to grow and for brands to launch. Currently, we’re developing live concert experiences around our live-action series Nova Jones, as well as encouraging communities to interact and create user-generated content around our brands.

We’re developing multibranch storylines and figuring out where our audience are playing and going to be playing. However, as wearables become the norm, questions do exist around the appropriateness of young children becoming so immersed in a digital world, with regulation undoubtedly coming down the line.

How do you work with YouTube Kids and is it a platform that supports high-quality animation producers?
For us, YouTube Kids is an incredible marketing tool and a key partner for us in growing our brands and bringing them to a wider audience. There are more kids accessing YouTube than anywhere else. I also found a real openness on YouTube’s part to work in a complementary way with third-party brands. YouTube has democratised the content space by supporting high-quality productions alongside lower-budget content and individual artists in their bedroom searching for an audience. Increasingly, we are seeing brands launch on YouTube as digital-first offerings and finding second homes elsewhere.

Tell us about the project you are pitching at Cartoon Forum.
With BeddyByes (52×11′), we’ve cracked bedtime for the very young. Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s a series where in each episode we look to gradually send our audience to sleep. This surreal series follows two loveable heroes on a soothing and mindful journey to bedtime.

The format represents the latter waking hours of a young child’s day and will act as a tool to help parents to wind down their children with a guilt-free, calming experience. It’s a demographic that’s often served up questionable content, and we want to counteract that by offering the very young a safe and nourishing world that’s reflective of their daily lives and one they can warmly wrap themself around.


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