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Jonathan Clarke

Jonathan Clarke
Distillery Films
Pitching: Umami

What is the biggest issue facing the animation industry right now?
We are working in an industry that is constantly changing. With change comes uncertainty and a tendency to rely on trends to compete for an audience.

What is your company doing in response to this?
Like anything, it comes down to audience demand. We try to stay on top of trends, but rather than focusing on them we look at the timeless elements behind the trend. We talk a lot about the shows we loved as children – not only the shows that were popular, but the ones that really resonated and stayed with us. Trends come and go, but we find that strong values and stories told with heart do cut through and stay with an audience.

How do you see the rise of the metaverse impacting animation?
I believe that good storytelling crosses any medium. It’s exciting to see new avenues opening up, but it also encourages us to double down on what we see as the fundamental elements of what we’ve always done, which is strong storytelling told from an interesting perspective. We’ll always prioritise the quality of what we’re producing, however it’s experienced.

How do you work with YouTube Kids and is it a platform that supports high-quality animation producers?
YouTube, Spotify and many others have taken the positive step of creating a closed, safe platform for young audiences. I believe it’s a very encouraging step forward. It’s important that the content we create for audiences is accessed in a safe environment where quality can be monitored.

Tell us about the project you are pitching at Cartoon Forum.
Umami (52×11’) follows the friendship of a group of 8-10s growing up in a modern city. Their lives revolve around their parents’ food truck businesses. The trucks (and the food) reflect the characters’ cultural identities, their powerful personalities and their outlook on the world around them. The series celebrates friendship, finding your place in the world and expressing who you are. We have a brilliant team behind the project and a really distinctive 2D animation style, and there is a real heart and soul to the concept.


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