Eddie Mehong shared his experience working in Japan and France as a 2D animator and starting his own studio in Tokyo Japan. We are pleased to present his inspiring story of what it’s like to bridge the animation industry internationally. This interview was done by Drifa Benseghir for Animationweek.
Working as an owner of Yapiko Animation
Animationweek (AW): Could you introduce yourself?
Eddie Mehong: Hello. I am Eddie Mehong, owner of Yapiko Animation (*1), Japan. It’s a branch of a company that I made with two friends in France. We created the branch in Japan two years ago. Now we are working on the front project, Japanese project, European project, American project and so on, and we gather talented artists from Europe and Japan, including Japanese animators and European artists, designers and creators.
*1: Yapiko Animation: http://yapiko.fr/?lang=en
AW: Thank you. Firstly, could I ask you about yourself? What is your role as the top of President of Yapiko Animation? Is there a specific role you have or do you do everything?
Eddie Mehong: No. If I do everything I can’t focus on the main concern that is the quality of animation that we want to provide. My role is to hire people on the front project. It’s kind of like a movie. When you make a movie, you try to hire some actors and I have to build my own team for each new project. Usually most of them are the same but sometimes I pick some different good animators on different projects. It depends on their availability and their skills if they fit with the project or not. Basically that’s my role, to gather the team and try to explain to my client the best conditions for working with those animators. It is not easy to work with freelance animators in Japan. You need to follow certain rules to get the best of them. So that’s my role.
Start of interest in working as an animator
AW: Interesting. What made you work for animation compared to other media? What part of animation is attractive to you? Why did you choose animation as a medium? EM: Yeah, a long time ago I had to choose. When you are kids, you have to choose a job. I had different opportunities and one of them was animation because I was not so good at school but I was drawing all the time. People told me, “Maybe you should focus on drawing instead of focusing on mathematics, or something you like.” My teacher told me, “Eddie, it’s nice,” because I did very beautiful drawings, maybe for them. The teacher also said, “It’s not good to draw during lessons… But what you do is nice. Maybe you should continue in this way instead of my way.” So I said, “Hmm, yeah. Maybe you’re right.” So I decided to focus on drawings.
Then, I took some information about what kind of opportunities are available in drawing. I saw that Disney animators could draw and have pretty good lifestyles and I was also very impressed by their drawings and what they can make with them, how they can bring characters to life. So I said, “Okay, maybe I should try that.” And I tried to focus all my efforts in this way and then I started to take a big interest in animation, so that’s how it started.
I started going to prep school. The school was focused on just communication and drawings so I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do at this moment, but a Disney background designer Christophe Vacher came to the school and explained that at Disney studios they have really good environment of work and can take their time to make the best animation possible. There was a conference and I was really amazed at this time so I said, “Oh, that’s incredible. I want to do that.” After the conference, I invited him to have a coffee so I could talk with him in more detail. He explained to me how to get a job with Disney studios; how to make a book, a demo reel and what to do to impress the recruiter. He also explained that going to an animation school like GOBELINS (*2) first would be better. So after that I started applying to GOBELINS, and then I entered a few years later.
*2: GOBELINS is a prestigious art school in Paris, GOBELINS l’école de l’image.
AW: “>That’s cool, so it’s through these people that you met, that you got slowly into animation. The first was drawing and then you were directed by people you met to go into the animation industry.
Eddie Mehong: Yes, there are people that influenced my passion for animation little by little, causing it to ignite.
Mehong’s first professional project
AW: Could you please share your journey as a professional animator and as the head of the studio? How did you get to work for animation? Starting your career after GOBELINS, how did you get your first job?
Eddie Mehong: During the last year of the school, you have a meeting with professionals and they can look at your work and give advice and notes about it. And this time, I met a producer and art director and one of them wanted me to work for them directly after school. But it was about character design and not animation, so I said “Hmm, I’m more interested in animation so maybe I will decline.” I accepted another job that was for a pilot film, just for two months. It was animation so it was more interesting to me. The title was Code Lyoko (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0417311/). After two months I had no work so I contacted the project producer who had asked me to do character design. Then I entered Marathon Animation Studio as a character designer. I worked for them for six years. I did some design for Martin Mystery (*3) and I worked on Totally Spies! (*4). I did design for Team Galaxy (*5) and some other small animations, not very famous.
*3: The link of Martin Mystery on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Mystery
*4: The link of Totally Spies! on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totally_Spies!
*5: The link of Team Galaxy on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_Galaxy_(TV_series)
Learning from professionals
AW: How did you develop your expertise after you graduated GOBELINS? I guess your learning experience didn’t stop? You still had to learn?
Eddie Mehong: Even now.
AW: I suppose the way you learn is different between France and Japan. How did you learn in each country?
Eddie Mehong: The biggest improvement from my point of view is always with professionals. What is really helpful at GOBELINS is that they pair every student with professional people, so that I did three internships for a total of 2 months at Disney Studios. For me, it was a great improvement to work with them because I learned very, very fast about animation. Thanks to those great artists and animators I learned how to make movements and all the rules about breakdown, stretch, squash, timing and so on. It was really, really important for me to learn all that stuff with them. After that, when you go back to school, you just learn the basics and that’s very important but the great improvement is the time when you’re with real professional people and can talk with them. And it was the same when I came to Japan.
Japanese way to learn animation
Eddie Mehong: There are also animation schools in Japan. I went to some schools but people who went to schools in Japan said, “We don’t learn anything in school”. So I took the chance to learn about animation in a Japanese studio. In 2003, Christophe Ferreira and I were invited by a great animator called Yasuo Otsuka to work at Telecom studio (*6). Together we learned all the steps of Japanese animation with this awesome animator. He taught us everything from basics, like Douga (*7)(it’s an inbetween) and Genga (*8)(it’s a key pose). He taught us also how to make a storyboard, how to make Images Board.
*6: Telecom Animation Film Co.,Ltd. (in Japanese): http://www.telecom-anime.com/index.html
*7: Douga is a Japanese word which indicates inbetween of animation.
*8: Genga is a Japanese word which indicates key frame of animation.
AW: Is it Ekonte (*9) or Layout?
Eddie Mehong: Not Ekonte. Not layout, but I learned layout too, of course. It’s an image board. It’s to visualise a project. For example, if you make a new project, you have to make some images board (illustrations of important points of your story) to show to your producer and different people in the project what the project will look like at the end.
*9: Ekonte is a Japanese word which indicates story board.
AW: Is it different from the colour script?
Eddie Mehong: It’s not the colour script. It’s the step before the colour script. An image board is really important to make the investor see how the project can look at the end. Mr. Otsuka taught us how to make an image board in Japan and how to present a project and how to develop it. That was very interesting. After three months of formation, we started to work full time in Telecom studio as an inbetweener and it lasted for seven months.
An encounter with Japanese animation industry
AW: But how did you meet Otsuka Sensei? I remember that he came to France and he did a master class; was it then?
Eddie Mehong: Yes. It was exactly at that moment.
AW: It was that moment and then he met you and Christophe Ferreira, and he said, “Oh, those two guys are great. I need to bring them to Japan”?
Eddie Mehong: Not really. So Mr. Otsuka was invited by David Encinas who was the first French guy to work for Ghibli Studio in Japan. Mr. Otsuka taught in the master class and he chose 10 to 15 people who participated in his master class. We had some exercises in the class but he stayed only one week so it was pretty quick.
AW: This was in Paris, right?
Eddie Mehong: It was in Paris, at Forum des images. During the master class, Mr Otsuka said, “Maybe if some of you are interested, you can continue to work with me and I can invite some of you to my studio and I can continue the training more accurately in Japan.” At the end of the master class, he had a dinner with all the students and I remember that I asked him the questions, “So how about the invitation you told us?” And he said, “Oh, that’s true. Yeah, maybe for a little bit. I can take only two or three, maximum, so I should ask you who can be interested in coming to the studio and decide who come.” In fact, he could only take two. Christophe Ferreira, Thomas Romain, and I were the only three who were interested in that training.
Thomas had other plans so Christophe and I came first and then Thomas came a year later, but he didn’t make our training because he had another project, Ōban Star-Racers.
The journey to establish an animation studio in Japan
AW: It’s a great start to come to Japan with Otsuka Sensei. What kind of animation projects have you been involved in? You said you were in Martin Mystery, Totally Spies!, and Team Galaxy in France, are there any projects you can share with us, which you were part of from the moment you arrived in Japan?
Eddie Mehong: My first project in Japan was Mujin Wakusei Survivor at Telecom Studio as an inbetweener. I stayed one year in Japan and then I came back to France and worked for Marathon studio for five years. Then I came back to Japan in 2007 and worked for Satelight (*10). I was invited this time by Thomas who was still in Japan. I started on a series called Shugo Chara!. Then the next one was Macross Frontier, which was the project I really wanted to join because I liked Macross (*11) so much when I was a kid. So for me, it was a dream to work on it.
*10: A Japanese animation studio SATELIGHT Inc. (in Japanese): http://www.satelight.co.jp
*11: A TV animation series originally broadcasted in Japan from 1982 to 1983 and its full title is The Super Dimension Fortress Macross.
Eddie Mehong: I was a contractor, “Keiyaku Shain” in Japanese at that time. You have a contract for a month and it also allows you to work for another studio if you are in Japan. I was at Satelight for two years and worked for different series like Basquash! and some other titles that I forgot. I also worked for Casshern Sins but it was with Madhouse (*12). Anyway, I used to work for Satelight. After that, a guy from Ankama France (*13) came to Japan and asked some French people to help him to open the studio, so I opened Ankama Japan with him in 2009.
*12: A Japanese animation studio MADHOUSE Inc. (in Japanese): http://www.madhouse.co.jp
*13: Ankama (http://www.ankama.com/en) is a French company publish Video games, comic, animation, and so on.
AW: What made you decide to create your animation studio in Japan, the one that you have now, Yapiko Animation Studio?
Eddie Mehong: I already had a great experience of working in European animation because I did some animation direction in different countries for French companies. I was an assistant director, a sometimes director on a few series. And I had good experience in Japanese animation. So in 2009 when I created Ankama Japan with “Tot “(nickname of Ankama’s CEO), it was a great experience for me, I could use both of my experiences to make the company. I mixed ideas from both of them to make something new, maybe something never seen before. I could really interact with Japanese animators and producers and understand better how all the animation industry works in Japan through Ankama Japan.
Ankama Japan lasted 2 to 3 years. It closed after some problems; artistic problems between France and Japan. The French company had a hard time with Japanese people due to miscommunication. After the studio closed, I hired people from Ankama Japan and then created Yapiko Animation. Now, most of the people who are working for us are all the people whom I hired from Ankama Japan and some new people have joined us recently.
AW: It’s one of the most unique studios in the world.
Eddie Mehong: For now. Yes.
AW: I think it is important that everybody knows about you because you are the only one in the world that makes all this work together internationally, especially between France and Japan.
Difference between French and Japanese animation industry
AW: We would like to ask you about the difference in working environment and culture for animators between France and Japan. In terms of technical things and business practice, are there any differences in the way of making animation between France and Japan?
Eddie Mehong: Basically, in France the animation is based on the American model, the Disney model. Usually you have different steps. In current animations, you have to draw the key poses. You have the layout art and you have the background design. In Japan, some of the steps are mixed (Figure 1). That means the animator makes his own layout so it saves time and also he has better control of the cut which he’s doing because when you do your layout, you can completely control your movement according to the perspective and have a better match between characters and the background.
Eddie Mehong: You can see it clearly if you check some Ghibli (*14) movies and Disney movies. There are good points and bad points in each of them. In terms of pure global image, Japanese animation is really strong. I mean, the perspective is really strong. In terms of acting, American animation is stronger than Japanese animation because they put more details into micro expressions that Japanese animation doesn’t really care about. For example, if you compare lip syncing in Ghibli animation and American lip sync, there is a big difference. Yapiko Animation has an animator from DreamWorks who is really good at acting and a Japanese animator coming from Ghibli. They are really respectful of each other.
They respect their own work and method. It’s really fun to see each of them animating on the same project. For me, it’s really amazing to see that and I would like to push this experience further to get more interesting animation which mixes both techniques: Japanese techniques and American techniques. I feel that we can maybe make a feature film or something like that. We can make something really amazing.
*14: Studio Ghibli (in Japanese): http://www.ghibli.jp/
The difference in communication between Japan and France
AW: On the business side, as a producer you said that you now also communicate with clients. How is it different to communicate with clients from France or from Japan in a business way?
Eddie Mehong: Okay, basically it’s easier to communicate in Japan with my clients because things are faster in Japan than France. When you decide something, you take time to decide what you want to do at the beginning. Once it’s decided then it goes pretty fast in Japan. In France it’s always difficult because first you talk and you decide something, then some people change their minds and decide something else and after that you have to talk a lot to go forward even if you started the project, it’s still not decided yet. Maybe you have to redo some work. It’s interesting because you can share so many things in France. In Japan you share at the start and after it’s finished. In France, you always share, even if you are doing a project. Sometimes it’s really hard when you have to redo something that you did because someone has changed his/her mind. Artists don’t really like that.
AW: So you mean in Japan, from the moment the decision is taken, it goes very quickly. They don’t usually go back on the decision.
Eddie Mehong: No. They don’t go back on the decisions.
AW: Which they do in France?
Eddie Mehong: Yes, in Japan, that’s why they talk a lot at the start but when it’s decided, it’s clear. The process is started. The speech takes time but is really important at the start.
AW: Okay. It’s good that you know both sides.
Eddie Mehong: Yes. It’s really important to know, so when clients come in Japan, I tell them the Japanese way because we are in Japan so if we want to get the best from Japanese animators in the organisation then we have to work in their way. If it was the opposite, if I had Japanese clients asking me about the European way to make animation, I think I would recommend the Japanese way to do it because it’s better.
What does the Japanese animation industry look like?
A similarity between Japan and America
AW: What is it like to work in Japan? Could you please share your impressions and opinions about working in Japan as a professional animator? Not only the technical differences, is there a difference of approach as a creative artist?
Eddie Mehong: Two things. If you compare France, US and Japan, there are more similarities between US and Japan than France and Japan. I mean, in France, usually, the system is more independent from artists. There is no star system in France.
AW: Star system? Do you mean like being a superstar?
Eddie Mehong: Yeah. In France, when a company needs an animator, they just need an animator. They care of course if he/she’s good or not, but they won’t care about the name because most animators’ name don’t appear in any TV shows in France. For American studios and Japanese studios, the name is really important because it appears when the credits roll at the end of the show or the movie. Especially in Japan, people’s names appear at the end of every piece of a television show even if they make just one cut or two cuts. So when I came in Japan, I was really impressed with the respect that studios can give to animators. When I was in France, I just felt that “maybe I do my job and nobody cares so I go back home”, I take my money and that’s all.
AW: I didn’t know that. I was not aware of that.
Being respected as an animator
Eddie Mehong: In Japan, even if you don’t earn a lot of money, people are really respectful to animators. They try to push you to do your best. We call a production manager as “Seisaku Shinkou” in Japanese. They always push you to make the best of what you can and care about you. They encourage you to draw and if you want coffee or something, they’ll bring you some from time to time. Sometimes people bring me drinks or things like that when I was working, even if I didn’t ask for them – so even if conditions are difficult because of their schedule, they try to encourage you.
AW: So as an animator you get rewarded with positive encouragement and feelings in Japan more than in France.
Eddie Mehong: Yes. You feel that you are important in Japan when you are an animator. You know that when you work, you are sure that your name will be at the end of the show in the credits. It’s also reported on the Internet so it’s really important for an animator. Before working on a new project, the director of the projects in Japan checks what you did on the Internet or ask references who know you and depending on which projects you worked on, they will consider whether you are a good animator for the project. So they can see if you already worked on great projects. But in France, nobody cares really.
AW: It’s more anonymous.
Eddie Mehong: Yes. Your name really doesn’t appear or really go fast on the show when they have time. I didn’t feel in France that I was really important to my company. That was the way work was, so I didn’t care. But when I was here, I was really surprised by Japan.
Advice for Japanese who want to work in Europe
AW: That’s a good thing to know. Could you give any advice for the people who want to work globally as animators? It could be advice for foreign people who want to come to Japan or for Japanese people who want to work abroad, if you have any advice.
Eddie Mehong: For Japanese people who want to work in Europe, they need not to be scared about language.
AW: Yeah, Japanese people are afraid about communicating in English.
Eddie Mehong: Maybe they need to learn English. That’s important.
AW: Yeah, that’s true.
Eddie Mehong: Maybe if you are Japanese and like to talk and you are not afraid to talk a lot, I think you can go abroad. But those who are afraid or shy, it would be better for them to stay in Japan, I think.
Advice for European people who want to work in Japan
Eddie Mehong: For European people who want to work in Japan, it’s best to have strong motivation. It’s hard at the start and you can’t only rely on your talking and you can’t lie about your work. People will see what you are able to do and your skills. They will evaluate your skills and your skills will talk for you.
AW: I see what you mean. Because in France, you have a good relationship with people and then they will hire you even if you’re not super good.
Eddie Mehong: That’s why I said for Japanese people who want to work in France, if they know how to talk, maybe they can have a great job. If you tell most animators, “Okay, I worked on Bleach or maybe Naruto,” people will say, “Oh my god, he’s really good,” even if you do only inbetween, they will hire you as a high position. It doesn’t work in Japan, so if you come from France and you say you worked at Disney or DreamWorks, they will say, “Okay, we will test you first.”
AW: Yeah. “Show me what you can do”.
Eddie Mehong: If you’re not good, you will start at the basics. Skills and motivation are really important to work in Japan and talking is really important in Europe.
Being a hub for global animation industries
AW: Could you please tell us a little bit about your studio? What do you think the major characteristics of your studio are? You said that you are the first to hire both European and Japanese people. Do you have other specific sides you want to talk about Yapiko Animation?
Eddie Mehong: I use mainly my experience and the contacts I had in the past to improve the studio because when people come here it’s not only to work with us but sometimes it’s also to ask for advice. It’s easier for me because I’m not working alone. I have 2 awesome associates in France (Jean Louis Vandestoc (director) and Severine Varlette (production manager) and we have a great network, many famous people from different parts of the animation industry, that we can contact any time. It’s even good for Japanese people to work with foreign people. For example, recently I had some meetings with Tezuka Productions (*15) and I also had some other studios asking questions about how to develop their network in Europe. Actually, we had a discussion to try to see how to manage this. Since we have some experience in Europe, with television channels and some organisations related to animation, it’s convenient for us to contact them and check with a Japanese studio, what they can do or establish a relationship between them to make the communication easier. We can provide some translation also.
*15: Tezuka Productions Co., Ltd. (in japanese): http://tezukaosamu.net/jp/
AW: Sort of like a consultant?
Eddie Mehong: Like a consultant, yes. We haven’t fully developed that role yet but I think there is a great potential in it. For the moment, we just help like that. Maybe we can develop something more though.
AW: That’s a good way. You are an animation studio but actually creating a bridge between Europe and Japan. You can also give your expertise and help others.
Eddie Mehong: In both ways. Most of them are European or American clients. When I say American, it’s also Canadians who want to work with Japan.
AW: And they ask you for advice and expertise.
Eddie Mehong: Yes.
A successful Kickstarter project Urbance
AW: What kind of animation work has your studio worked on? What was your studio’s role in each project?
Eddie Mehong: Okay. Our speciality is mainly about 2D animation. Most of the projects, which we’ve done, are about 2D animations. We did key frames and character designs. We worked for Japanese projects, European projects, and any project abroad that we could. Currently it depends on our schedule, the budget, and the style whether we accept the project. We really want to make high quality projects. If someone comes and asks us, “We don’t have money. We want it quick and good quality,” maybe it’s not the right fit.
AW: Do you want to talk about a project?
Eddie Mehong: Yes. We worked on a project called Urbance (*16). This is the latest project that we do. It’s a project that was on KickStarter. You can see some key animation that we did in its pilot film(Video 1). This is a booklet that we will send to all the people who supported us on KickStarter(Video 2).
*16: Urbance is an animation project on Kickstarter
A localization of Japanese App “Afureko! AR”
Eddie Mehong: We also worked on commercials, did some movies, and musical clips. We also have some connections with games and did some designs for an application on the iPhone and iPad. There is an App that we didn’t make the animation for but we did localisation. It was a Japanese App from a friend of mine and it’s a very interesting App called Afureko! AR(Video 3). You can dub a character, which you choose in an animation through the App. I mean, you can replace the character’s voice with your own voice. You can try to train by yourself to be a voice actor.
It was only in Japanese but we had the feeling that it may be interesting for French people or English speaking people so we did the localisation. We made the translation into French and English (Picture 1 and 2). Now it’s available on App Store for French and English people.
Fun part of the job
AW: What do you find is the most interesting and fun part of your job when you work for animation?
Eddie Mehong: Okay, the problem is that I should be producer but I always like drawing. Most of the time people tell me, “Eddie, stop drawing. You should help your project.” Of course I do this but I really like to draw. It’s really hard for me to lead the company without drawings, but sometimes you have to be serious and do the things that need to be done.
AW: It’s really all about drawing for you, like back when you were a kid and you were drawing in mathematics class.
Eddie Mehong: Yes, when I have time then I take my pen and start to draw but I have to switch between the roles.
Being a producer and an animator
AW: What kind of difficulties did you face in your job and how did you overcome them?
Eddie Mehong: Most important thing is that I need to learn how to be a good producer. This is something I didn’t really learn at school in GOBELINS. Maybe they should have a course on producing, it could be interesting.
AW: I think they have one now, for the last few years. They have a producing line but it’s very separated. It’s not for animators.
Eddie Mehong: If they could teach more about producing, it could be interesting for animators. Now I have both roles. When I talk to a producer, now I understand better how the company is working and what I can ask or not because I’m a producer. When I talk to some producer as a freelance animator, I can understand better producer’s concern. A simple example is the schedule. A producer will always tell you that there is no time. In fact, there is time but he wants to control the schedule. That’s something that I try to learn by myself because when I have time, I give all the time to animators but I shouldn’t. I should tell them that it’s shorter to have a kind of time cushion. It is because so many animators don’t always respect the time, but for me, I like to give a lot of time to animators. This is just a simple example. There are many like that.
AW: Could we ask you about the vision you have about the future of your studio? What kind of animation would you like to create? You said high quality. Do you have any ideas?
Eddie Mehong: When we are working for clients, we try to provide the best quality we can. We have many ideas, of course. The goal is to make our own projects. Maybe if we can make a movie and if it can be seen in Japan and around the world, I would be really really happy. At the moment, my objective is to make money to make our own projects and then find a great producer, a great investor or sponsor to invest to make something bigger and stronger.
AW: What is the hope or plan of development of your studio? Do you want them to get bigger, or would you like to stay with this size and hire freelancers?
Eddie Mehong: I plan to get a little bit bigger. At the moment, we have very few people and most people working with us are freelancers so we really want to hire people as soon as we can and if I can, keep them. It is almost two years since we started. There are many artists who we meet in the studio or work with. I would like to keep most of them, not all, but most of them. It requires some funds. That’s why I plan to find a great project and hire them and to create the best team possible.
AW: That sounds good.
Having a mixed talent team
Eddie Mehong: I just want to add something, it’s that when I said, “team”, that is not only Japanese people but it’s Japanese people and people abroad so it’s a mixed team. I will insist on the fact that Yapiko Animation is not a company working only with one type of animators but that it stays really international. We want the skills of everybody, not only one type of people, that’s why we have an office in Paris also.
AW: You mean that for 2D animations, you use not only traditional paper animation but also Flash® or other types, doesn’t it?
Eddie Mehong: I think that we are the only company who use every type, G pen, hand drawing, and Flash® and so on. Recently, for example, on Urbance, we had some animators who asked for hand drawings using G pens, some others were using Flash®. We managed all those techniques together because at the end, all is numeric on the computer so it’s not difficult. We just have to scan in the paper animations.
AW: I didn’t know you could mix 2D techniques within the same project.
Eddie Mehong: It’s faster to make it all by CG, but there are some good animators in Japan who don’t know anything about CG. They don’t really want to learn so they want to stay on paper. If you do it all by CG, there are some good animators whom you can’t work with and it’s a waste of talent. If you can still work with paper, then you can hire them and have their experiences.
Important things to be a good animator
AW: Do you have any general advice for those who want to work for animation?
Eddie Mehong: It’s what I said before, “motivation and time.” It’s time consuming to make animation. If you’re not patient, it’s not for you. Patience is really important because you will work hours and hours for a few seconds of moving characters. But when it moves at the end, you are very proud and it gives you great satisfaction.
A new project Plume
AW: Are there any projects you would like to mention or promote or you can share with our readers? You talked about Urbance, but is there anything else?
Eddie Mehong: Sure. There is a project that we plan to launch very soon. It’s called Plume (Picture 3 and 4). This is a project that we expect to launch on KickStarter. It’s done by a European artist and will be adapted by Japanese animators, and we want to make a pilot film first and then we will see what we can do with it. At the moment we are thinking about a TV series.
AW: The Plume project, it’s for an international audience, are looking for sponsors from France or America? I think that a French TV channel could be interested in it.
Eddie Mehong: Yes, exactly, that’s something we are looking for. We can’t wait to make the pilot to show everybody how amazing it can be! There are some other projects. There is another called Iron Vandetta. It’s more for the Japanese market, so maybe we have to prospect a Japanese company for sponsorship.
Easy to work with other studios in Japan
AW: If possible, could you let us know any studios, which are attracting your attention with interesting projects? Are there any studios you would like to work with in the future?
Eddie Mehong: Actually, we are working with pH studio (*17). It’s a compositing studio but we also have a partnership with Studio Colorido (*18). It’s a young studio with really young talented animators in Japan. Most of them are working on CG.
*17: pH studio (in Japanese): http://www.phstudio.com
*18: Studio Colorido (in Japanese): http://colorido.co.jp
AW: When you say CG, is it like Flash® or is it 3D?
Eddie Mehong: It’s Flash®. What really interesting in Japan is that it’s really open to any studios. It’s really easy to work with any studios so I don’t have a specific studio in my mind, which I want to work with. It depends on the project. If it’s realistic animation, I will maybe ask Production IG (*19). If it’s more cartoonish, I will ask some more cartoon animation studio like Trigger (*20) or something like maybe GAINAX (*21). It depends on their schedule because they are really busy too. It could be another studio where the name is less known but there are so many possibilities in Japan to work with different studios. It’s more difficult in France.
*19: Production IG (in Japanese): http://www.production-ig.co.jp
*20: Trigger (in Japanese): http://www.st-trigger.co.jp
*21: GAINAX (in Japanese): http://www.gainax.co.jp/wp/
AW: Yes. In France I feel there is a little bit of competition.
Eddie Mehong: Yes, it’s more competitive.
AW: In Japan I feel they are all collaborative. They work together and there is no feeling of being betrayed or something. It’s friendlier, like a big family.
Eddie Mehong: Yes, exactly. But I will say that 80% of animators in Japan are freelance so it’s not in the interest of companies to close their doors. If they are closed, they will lose freelance workers and it’s not good for the companies because Japanese companies lack of animators and they need animators. They need to be open to working with other companies; otherwise they won’t survive.