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The fifth edition of CARTOON 360 will take place from 28th to 30th May 2018 at Le Palais de la Bourse in Lille, France. CARTOON 360 is a pitching event for animation producers who wish to develop their animation projects into a transmedia brand. Producers will be able to pitch their transmedia animation project in front of a panel of 30 experts from various digital industries, and receive feedback from them.

Animationweek will attend CARTOON 360 as press this year for the first time. To learn more about CARTOON 360, we interviewed Yolanda Alonso, CARTOON 360 director, via email.

Interview with Yolanda Alonso

Animationweek (AW): How and why did CARTOON 360 start?

Yolanda Alonso: CARTOON 360 started in 2014 as it became clear that more and more animation projects were presented at the Cartoon Forum and the Cartoon Movie with a cross-media approach. We also know that animation companies which develop brands rather than single projects have a stronger market position, and going digital and cross-media is a brand necessity.

So we felt there was a need to launch a new event to help producers focus on the multi-platform strands of their animation projects.

To accelerate the development of these projects in terms of content, production and financing, animation producers also need to be able to meet players of the creative and multi-platform industries who were looking to co-develop such projects and bring expertise to them on these new digital markets.

So the event, conceived for animation producers as the next step after the Cartoon Forum and Cartoon Movie, also quickly welcomed newcomers to the animation industry and players of other sectors wishing to work with animation professionals on the larger exploitation of animation brands.

We were lucky to meet the support of Creative Europe/MEDIA Programme and of other public national institutions to launch the first event in 2014 in Munich, then for 3 years in Barcelona and now for 4 years in Lille in the Region Hauts-de-France.

AW: What outcomes has CARTOON 360 achieved?

Yolanda Alonso:

  • The need to meet and exchange on how animation producers can bring their transmedia properties on a multi-content, multi-platform and multi-format market which is not evolving, global in terms of audiences but limited in terms of financing.
  • An understanding that producers need to determine the first entry point (main platform) for their brand to develop stories across the other ones with a strategy in mind as all platforms have their own ecosystem
  • An understanding that producers need to ‘tick’ less platforms to devote more time on a limited number of chosen ones
  • An understanding that producers need to create partnerships with actors from these other platforms as they don’t have the time nor knowledge to do that themselves. That’s why the experts’ value at Cartoon 360 is high.
  • The consolidation of a growing and very participative network of experts coming from interactive writing, game development, digital publishing, broadcasting and financing
  • A greater diversity than we expected in the projects submitted in terms of content, format and audiences where TV or film is not necessarily the first entry point into the property; hence the need to enlarge the expertise fields
  • The presence of more broadcasters and their digital departments every year as they remain the main financiers of animation programmes with public funders
  • The presence this year of more VR and AR projects than before and private financiers who are interested in animation as a growth sector

AW: What information or knowledge can animation producers who pitch their projects gain from Cartoon 360?

Yolanda Alonso: Each project is assigned 5 experts who prior to the event work on the content and platform indicated in each file: to improve, provide solutions and practical advice to reach the producer’s objectives. The experts’ input is communicated back to the producers who in turn can embed these comments in their final and public presentation at the event. So producers can collect quite a lot of very valuable and practical information to go ahead with their project with the ‘missing links’ hopefully filled by the feedback received from experts. They can improve the content creatively and understand quickly where their present project lies in its many developments. They can then re-adjust.

Then on site and just following their pitch, an interactive session takes place between the producer and his/her 5 experts. It’s a time of exchange and more focused panel talks.

A novelty this year is that the producers who come and pitch will benefit from some Extra Time (as in the Cartoon Forum and Cartoon Movie) of 30 minutes after their pitch. This space and time are given to help producers prolong their exchanges with the other experts in attendance and the participants who hopefully can come forward with partnership opportunities.

Another novelty is that we will also ask all the experts and financiers attending the event to ‘assess’ the project as it was pitched to them: strengths, weaknesses, and the way forward.

Additionally, any participant whether she/he comes to pitch or just as simple participant can discover these new animation transmedia programmes, and start forging professional links. It’s a platform where animation producers meet digital stakeholders.

AW: How are you selecting the experts from various digital industries and what kind of advice or support will they provide for producers?

Yolanda Alonso: They are key to the event, and we are able to select ‘the best’, because of our extensive contact base within the industry – we are 30 years old! And because of our exchanges at our own events (7 a year) and other professional events we attend.

A few experts and producers also recommend other experts.

We try and renew one third of the experts each year, but need to keep a hard core of experts, very familiar with the projects and market demands as we need to make the event evolve too.

In terms of support, please see above. Often, they tend to bring down the number of platform choices, talk of how audiences are consuming digital programmes and what they will pay for them (apps, games, books), give creative input to content and help find ways to secure finance and partnerships.

AW: What kinds of animation producers or projects do you want to have attend CARTOON 360?

Yolanda Alonso: Our policy is to welcome any producer or digital stakeholder to Cartoon 360, whether they have a 360 degree project to pitch, or a project they wish to develop but are not sure as to how and with whom!

We strongly encourage overlapping sectors from video games, apps, publishing, licensing and merchandising, AR and VR, to attend, meet and discuss opportunities to create new transmedia programmes for audiences of any age.

The future is now and Europe can aggregate all the talent and money needed to achieve a leading position in this field.

AW: If the main animation project is progressing well, would the producer attend CARTOON 360, even though their transmedia projects are at a very early stage, like having no business partners who develop transmedia content? Or are there any policies about when producers can apply for CARTOON 360, depending on the progress of the project?

Yolanda Alonso: As we said, it is still in the early stages, so any animation project at any stage can submit as long as the project is developed on at least 2 distinct platforms. However, for the added value of experts’ advice to be fully effective, projects need to include enough material for them to be able to give meaningful insights.

The objective of Cartoon 360 is also to help producers find business partners at the event, among experts, and other professionals in attendance (200 altogether).

All this takes time but hopefully some of the projects presented at the event were completed.

AW: Could you please let us know your future vision of CARTOON 360?

Yolanda Alonso: Our objective is to help producers accelerate the transition of their animation projects from linear to digital. Our proposal is to ‘coach’ them along the way from project acceptance to public presentation at Cartoon 360.

We also want them to find the right partners for their transmedia animation programmes and create co-productions and partnerships with other stakeholders that can help them finance and reach platform exploitation.

We also wish to have more financiers attend the event and are very happy that the Investment Fund from La Fabrique des Formats has chosen Cartoon 360 to reward 2 projects with development/pilot aid of between 25000 to 50000 EUR each.