Juraj Krasnohorsky • Head of studies, CEE Animation Workshop
“Producers from our region are now as proficient as their counterparts from big countries”
- The Slovak producer broke down the programme of the upcoming CEE Animation Workshop, which is now, for the first time, open to all European animation professionals
With the deadline for the CEE Animation Workshop set for 15 November, we talked to the head of studies, Slovak producer Juraj Krasnohorsky, about the upcoming programme. After four years of focusing solely on producers and projects from Central and Eastern Europe and low-production-capacity countries, professionals from all European countries can now apply for the workshop.
Cineuropa: Tell us a bit more about this crucial change.
Juraj Krasnohorsky: As we enter our fifth year of existence, we will be accepting producers and teams of projects coming from high-production-capacity countries. The focus remains on Central and Eastern Europe, but we are looking for projects with a clear proof of interest in co-producing with CEE or one of the low-production-capacity countries.
We are also happy that we can now accept participants from Poland, which is, of course, a crucial territory and a very important animation industry in CEE. What we are looking for is a mix of projects that is still orientated towards CEE, but we can now have more projects from the rest of Europe. For example, we'd like to have eight projects from our region and another four from the wider Europe, but which have a strong interest in co-producing with CEE. This is aligned with the strategy of Creative Europe and its new rules for co-development, which are aimed at inviting the high-production-capacity countries to co-develop projects with low-production-capacity countries. This is exactly what we want to promote with our workshop: we want our producers to co-develop projects from the inception of the concept and the idea, and to already have two strong co-producers on board from the very beginning.
Where did the idea for the CEE Animation Workshop come from?
At first, we had the CEE Animation Forum, which is a pitching platform and a meeting place for producers from our region. What we realised in those meetings is that we had to do more than just pitch projects; we had to raise the level of animation in the whole CEE region. One of the key goals was to push forward co-productions because we knew that these ambitious animation projects could only be made in this way, so we lobbied for national film funds to enable co-productions in a more efficient way and to allow different formats to be co-produced – not only feature films, but also shorts and TV series.
At the same time, we realised that the producers from our region need to train in order to gain tools that will enable them to access the supranational financing from Creative Europe and Eurimages, and empower them to do co-productions more efficiently. So we decided to create a workshop to train our producers to be better at co-producing, pitching, packaging, selling their projects and working with sales agents, and also to enable them to learn more about all of the legal aspects involved in co-productions.
What do you see as the biggest success of the CEE Animation Workshop so far?
We have definitely observed that the level of proficiency of the projects and companies that apply improves year after year. Earlier, there was a huge gap in proficiency between producers coming from high- and low-production-capacity countries. Today, I can really say this gap doesn't exist any more. We see projects from CEE or low-production-capacity countries being just as successful in getting advanced financing with really high amounts as their counterparts from bigger countries; they also sometimes deliver even better pitches than them at big events, such as Cartoon Forum or Cartoon Movie. So projects coming from our region are now more ambitious, expensive and complicated in terms of their production structure, with the narrative side and visuals completely matching the demands of the market.
What is the main advantage of the CEE Animation Workshop over other similar programmes?
We accept four main different formats: feature films, short films, TV series and TV specials, and XR. They each have their own markets, audiences, ways of financing or industry events where they can be pitched, but we try to cover all of them. What we see as a particular advantage is that when a participant comes along with a short film, they can learn from what the others are dealing with in discussions and group work, and employ this knowledge the next time they work on a more ambitious project. Specifically, I see our strength lying in the good balance that we have struck between personalised mentoring and group activities for participants. Finally, what sets us apart is the ten-month duration of the workshop, which is enough time for a project to make measurable progress.
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