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Philippe Alessandri

Philippe Alessandri
Founder & CEO
Watch Next Media
Pitching: Audrey’s Shelter

What is the biggest issue facing the animation industry?
It’s always putting the financing together because children’s channels do not pay for 100% of an animated series, which is a huge difference with other genres like drama or documentaries. And it’s even tougher than it used to be, because national broadcasters want exclusive SVoD rights in their home market, but global players don’t want to be missing major territories.

What is your company doing in response to this?
We’re very much still in the traditional coproduction model, so we access public funding and secure pre-sales in different territories. But you can’t own 100% of the property this way. So we’re also extending our business to other countries, starting with Italy, where we have set up Animato in Turin. This means we can coproduce with Italy, share the same production pipeline and increase the financing, while retaining the IP.

We’re starting this strategy with The Kiddy Crunchers for Canal+ in France and Rai in Italy. We’re also working with the global platforms, as some of them are willing to pay more for an animation series than traditional TV. We’re working with Amazon Kids+ on Hello Kitty in certain territories.

Are physical animation studios essential or is working from home the future of the industry?
We’ve all discovered during the pandemic that working remotely, at least for 2D animated series, was possible. It’s another story for 3D CGI features, for example, because the files are too heavy. People are missing the socialising they can do in a studio, so the future will be a mix. We have studios in Paris and Lille and what we’re thinking of is a model where there will be one production working on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the studio and another production on the same desks on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So we can double the capacity of the studio. 

How do you feel about Disney’s decision to close many of its TV channels around the world?
The BBC’s decision to bring BBC3 back as a linear channel and France Télévisions’ decision to keep France 5 on air are wise. Having said that, Disney has the marketing potential to impose Disney+ on the audience very quickly, so I understand its decision. For the BBC and France Télévisions it would have been suicide because linear TV channels are wonderful marketing tools. It’s also interesting to see that Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network haven’t closed any channels.

Tell us about the project you are pitching at Cartoon Forum.
Audrey’s Shelter (pictured, 52×11′) is an upper-preschool action-comedy series aimed at 5-8s that follows an eight-year-old girl who lives at her family’s refuge for endangered species. She has an extraordinary life and has been raised among the animals, so she isn’t good at socialising. But her life changes when a boy from the city moves in next door. They become friends and they learn from each other while teaming up to solve the animals’ problems.

France Télévisions is on board and we have a development deal with TVO Kids in Canada, where we’re working with Image-In. It’s going to be an 80% French, 20% Canadian copro and to complete the financing on the French side we need at least one major or several small pre-sales in Europe.



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