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“Pour nous, les producteurs d’animation, repérer les nouveaux talents est capital”

Dossier industrie: Animation

Cristian Jezdic • DG, beQ Entertainment et vice-président, Cartoon Italia


Cette année, à Cartoon Springboard, le producteur italien nous a parlé des jeunes talents de l’animation et de l’état du secteur dans son pays

Cristian Jezdic • DG, beQ Entertainment et vice-président, Cartoon Italia

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

Unfolding in Madrid, this year’s Cartoon Springboard (25-27 October) saw Cineuropa cross paths with Italian producer Cristian Jezdic, who’s the CEO and founder of beQ Entertainment, as well as the vice president of Cartoon Italia, the Italian ambassador of the European Animation Awards and a member of the Roman MIA’s animation sector team. We met with Jezdic to discuss young talent in the field, the strong and weak points of their pitches and the state of Italian animation.

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Cineuropa: To kick things off, I wanted to ask you about your main activities in the animation and audiovisual field, and the work carried out by your firm...
Cristian Jezdic: I started out as a 3D artist, working for a company called Locomotion, who were the first 3D group in Italy making films of a certain standard. I’ll just mention a few of the titles we worked on: from Singing Behind Screens [+lire aussi :
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by Ermanno Olmi to The Legend of 1900 by Giuseppe Tornatore, as well as films by Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo, and Gabriele Salvatores. After that, I specialised in set supervision, notably for TV ads. Then I made a quantum leap to become an animation producer because, ultimately, that’s my passion. My company, beQ Entertainment, was founded in 2018. We’re mainly responsible for executively producing animated series and special animated TV features. We’re also working on the development of a number of animated feature films. Another arm of the company takes care of special effects work for film and TV releases: this is our main line of work. And another department takes care of IP: we carry out IP scouting and IP creation. We create IPs as book adaptations – the most recent project we presented at this year’s Cartoon Forum, for example, Jack the Red, is an adaptation of a book published by Mondadori and Il battello a Vapore called Jack il rosso. But we also have original series, such as Syncro 5, for example, which is in development with a significant Bonelli screenwriter called Bepi Vigna, who’s one of the creators of Nathan Never.

Why might Cartoon Springboard be an important platform for new talent and industry professionals?
Cartoon Springboard, as opposed to Cartoon Forum, is dedicated to young talent. For animation producers such as ourselves, scouting for new talent is essential. It also helps to avoid sliding into production cliches. We’re talking about training new talent and producing them. As you know, we’re seeing profound change in consumer habits. There are a wide range of platforms today, where children and kids can find their own content. Two such platforms are Roblox and TikTok. They’re platforms which rack up frightening numbers of views, even compared to YouTube which is already being seen as a “traditional” platform, unbelievably. [..] I’ve seen some really interesting, new things over the last few days, which we’d be hard pushed to encounter in a more formal and professional environment like Cartoon Forum.

Generally speaking, what tend to be the strong and weak points of these pitches?
Their strong points definitely revolve around innovation. Today, we saw a couple of genuinely innovative projects, from a semantic, narrative and a visual viewpoint. They have a freshness and intuition to them which is often lacking in the professional world, because it’s heavily attached to linear channel formats. Young authors have a desire to express themselves, and this authenticity is sometimes lacking in professionals, who create more standardised products with far more obvious clichés. Young authors need to express themselves and make their points of view and weaknesses, fears and aspirations understood. So they become incredibly interesting models for target audiences, predominantly preschool, kids, and the 5-7s bridge group. The weaker points of their pitches aren’t necessarily an issue, and they’re mostly linked to inexperience. Often, young professionals work in roles which shouldn’t fall to them; it’s quite unthinkable that just one person, just one professional, should be all things at once: an animator through to a designer, a scriptwriter through to a director, and so on. These one-man-band figures are very rare, and for years now, in our profession, we’ve been aiming for an increasingly specific verticalization of tasks.

You’re also Vice President of Cartoon Italia. What’s your view on the current state of Italian animation? Where do improvements need to be made in the long run?
Italian animation is in excellent health. We’re seeing real growth thanks to the previous government’s introduction of the Film Law. 40% tax credit, for example, has helped us to place intellectual property for productions back in Italian hands, who were previously forced to surrender the majority of their property to co-producers from France or other countries, for budgetary reasons. This has helped us to grow considerably. Here’s a fact for you: nine years ago, Cartoon Italia consisted of 12 partners. Now there are 42 of us, and we account for 99% of Italian animated production. Series are doing especially well. What we’re now working on, however, is animated feature films because, in Italy, animation producers wishing to produce such works have literally no idea where to turn. We don’t have dedicated funds. RAI, for their part, don’t produce animated kids’ films directly, and they only ever do so very rarely for adults. RAI Kids doesn’t have a mandate for this: when producers want to work on a kids’ animated film, RAI try to help in some way, but their support doesn’t cover the hefty budget required for a feature film.

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(Traduit de l'italien)

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