Cartoon 2022 – Cartoon Business
Industry Report: Animation
Cartoon Business reveals how Dickie was turned from a Belgian comic into a successful 360-degree IP
Peter Rogiers and Renaat Van Ginderachter explored the challenges of developing a young adult-orientated IP in a small European territory such as Flanders
On 16 November, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s Cartoon Business hosted a panel titled “Dickie – From Local Comics to Global 360 IP”, moderated by John Lomas-Bullivant. During the talk, Peter Rogiers and Renaat Van Ginderachter, of Flemish studio De Hofleveranciers, explained how they managed to turn Dickie from a local comic book into a successful 360-degree IP, and explored the ups and downs of producing it in small European territory such as Flanders.
They described Dickie as “the comic figure who doesn’t say a word”, adding that he embodies “the universal loser”. In detail, Dickie is the protagonist of the titular young adult-orientated 52x2-minute series characterised by chunks of dark humour, an element in clear contrast with the show’s naive drawing style. In each episode, things always go awry for Dickie, regardless of the situation he is in or the character he is playing.
First, Rogiers and Van Ginderachter spoke about the challenges of presenting their production without a solid track record, and how Cartoon Forum and the other Cartoon-organised events – together with some support and advice provided by Flemish broadcaster VRT – played a crucial role in honing their pitch, building a solid network of contacts and “finding the right partners at the right stage”.
A new 52x2-minute season is already in production (with an undisclosed “major distributor” attached), along with a feature film, set to enter pre-production next month. Among other challenges, Van Ginderachter mentioned “finding the right studio to co-operate with” (in this case, Belgium’s Fabrique Fantastique), “community building” (through special events such as “The Night of Dickie”, during which the 52 episodes were screened in a theatre, along with efforts to increase the brand’s social-media presence) and financing it entirely within Belgian borders (each minute of the show cost around €15,000 to make).
They explained that they initially went through traditional financing channels – broadcasters, platforms, local film funds and tax credits, for example. They covered 20% of the entire budget and closed the final 16% gap through private equity. They were confident that the strong IP, along with their own quality label and the partnership with VRT, would spark private investors’ interest.
And it did indeed work out. “If money is not within animation, logically, you have to look outside the sector. [...] We contacted private bankers, and they reached out to their richest clients, mostly entrepreneurs by nature. You should explain very clearly how your model works and let them think. Think and speak like an entrepreneur. You need to stimulate them, but be very clear and risk giving them a good share of the revenue to build up a long-term relationship,” Rogiers suggested.
“Be honest. They’re taking a risk, but they know it; it’s an investment [that they’re making]. Keep them in the loop so that they feel connected with your project,” he added. For the second season of the show, the budget was able to be assembled in just five months, in contrast to the financing of the first run, which took roughly five years. In the last part of the talk, the two speakers stressed how the whole licensing strategy was thought up from scratch, instead of being developed while the project was already in progress. Among other things, the team managed to license the IP to a clothing firm based in Barcelona in order to produce branded T-shirts as well as to a local brewery to serve a branded beer in bars, pubs and museums.
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