Industry Report: Financing
Business Model of a «Low Budget» Studio - Copenhagen Bombay production
by CARTOON (European Association of Animation Film)
- The article presents an interview with Petter Lindblad, producer and line producer of Copenhagen Bombay Productions, working manly on low-budget animation feature films. He talks about the advantages of working with low budgets and the way the company is organised. Dividing the budget and dealing with the financing are explained as well.
Petter Lindblad, has been working in Copenhagen Bombay since January 2007, as producer and line producer, mainly on animation projetcs. He worked, among others, on the feature animation Princess (2006) with a budget of € 1.200.000, the short feature Carsten & Gitte’s Movie Madness (2008) € 930.000, The Apple & The Worm (2009) € 2.480.000, and more recently on the development of the low budget 3D-feature The Great Bear (2010) € 1.500.000.
Why do you work with low budgets?
It is important to produce films, to tell stories and it is easier to finance the projects if the budget is not too big, and if you don’t enlarge it to get additional fees.
We just want the necessary amount to produce. Finance becomes faster and easier without having to involve so many people in the project, keeping and exploiting more rights in that way, hopefully making a bigger profit at the end, instead of selling off territories in the beginning.
Keeping the productions small, has the advantage of having a smaller team and keeping the physical production in-house. This is important and helpful in different ways: each person feels more involved in the development of the project, has a bigger role and can influence the project. Also the director can establish a better relation with the team.
How are you organised when you work
with low budget?
We start with a thorough development – all our projects go through pilots and tests phases so we know what can be done, with a better result for the production. In fact the budget will be more precise and we will be able to prove that we can deliver the work, so the material delivered matches the project. In this way you can also make the team members feel more comfortable and involved.
When we start the production we have a long preproduction phase in order to have a very precise animatic, in order to avoid making unnecessary animation. There is no room for extensive retakes of scenes. We have room for corrections, but the animatic needs to be very precise.
We must keep the production informed and the director close to the team. This makes it easier to catch issues early on, adjusting the production accordingly.
Flexibility is an important element both for the production and the people. Even with thorough planning, unexpected things will appear. By having a talented team that is flexible in assignments, optimizations can be done until the end.
Here we’ve found that new talents are better to work with in some departments, than experienced one, set in their ways.
Which film are you producing
at the moment?
We are now producing The Apple and The Worm, a 75’ long animated feature produced with an innovative animation method: Digital cell-animation (TV-Paint). The total production time has been calculated around 20 months, and the animation time 12 months, with a team of 25 people involved in creating all the storyboard (all visual departments). It is a Danish – Swedish co-production, with a total budget of € 2.480.000, financed for 80% by Denmark and 20% by Sweden.
We do not have so many partners for this film, but we are supported by our co-production partner in Sweden, Garage Film International, by the Danish and Swedish TV both investing in the project. We also have the Nordisk Film MG for Nordic distribution as well as the rest of the world, and being a Nordic country we have the advantage of being supported by Nordisk Film & TV-fund. Finally we got Eurimages fund.
> Copenhagen Bombay (DK) € 366.000 (14.8%)
> Garagefilm International (SE ) € 38.000 (1.55%)
> DR - Danish TV € 400.000 (16.1%)
> S VT - Swedish TV € 77.000 (3.12%)
> Danish Film Institute € 740.000 (29.9%)
> Swedish Film Institute € 165.000 (6.67%)
> Nordisk Film MG € 200.000 (8.09%)
> Nordisk Film & TV-fund € 190.000 (7.68%)
> Eurimages € 300.000 (12.1%)
How is the budget divided and how do you
deal with the financing?
We do not believe it is wise to increase the budget just in order to obtain a high production fee. Our aim is to create the film and make profit later, making sure that all the team has a salary. When we have the great project we will start generating profit for the company.
The essential point is to cover the costs for production, animation and equipment, money for putting everything on the screen; expenses hard to cut down. It will be easier for us to make a film when digital screens are available, with a lower budget, without having to invest money for a 35mm copy but only with the digital version instead. We try to keep the budget as low as possible, making sure all the basic expenses are covered.
Cartoon Master Donostia – San Sebastian, Spain, November 2008
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