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“The UK has always been a creative force in animation”

Ahead of the British animation panel at BLE, Aardman md Sean Clarke tells us why British studios are so special.

When it comes to British animation, there’s no question that Aardman is the most famous studio, but other UK studios are enjoying success – Magic Light Pictures, Acamar, etc. What is driving this success?

The UK has always been a creative force in animation, with a rich talent base in storytelling and character development alongside the economic benefits of the UK tax break and over last 18 months an ever-weakening pound have helped stimulate the financial viability of UK productions.

Why are British studios doing so well on a global scale?

Out of necessity, you now have to think of a global audience when developing any series both in terms of the financing and, of course, platform’s such as Netflix and Amazon offer an immediate global audience. The story structure and characters have to transcend cultures and borders with themes that are relevant and resonate at a local level.

What are we doing differently to other territories?

I think we tend to be more innovative and inventive in our animated techniques and the stories that we tell. There is also a strong history of UK book publishing and storytelling that provides an excellent source for inspiration and ideas for animated productions.

And what is the UK doing that’s resonating with so many audiences worldwide?

I believe we are more strategic in our thinking and nimble in our planning of how we launch our productions, delivering with all our series additional marketing assets on the various platforms including games and trails as well as off platform with complementary materials on social media sites such as YouTube.

When it comes to developing a licensing programme around animated properties, any tips you can share?

Understand your audience and who is watching the show and, from this, define a target market (they are not necessarily one of the same in that somebody who watches the show may not necessarily buy the product). Then identify key characters and common themes from the production that could shape a brand identity/style guide, and a category plan from which you can identify your lead categories.

For a smaller British studio, it is also about focusing your time and resource on territories where you will see the best return and from which you can demonstrate success to other markets.

You’re on the animation keynote panel at BLE in October, what will visitors takes from it?

I hope people will see that there are credible home-grown alternative animated productions that offer a unique and more flexible alternative proposition to a number of the US studios.

Storyboard: The Best of British Animation takes place on Wednesday October 2 at 12pm in the License Global Theatre at BLE. The panel includes Sean Clarke (md, Aardman Animations), Oli Hyatt (md, Blue Zoo Productions), Michael Rose (joint md, Magic Light Pictures), Mikael Shields (ceo, Acamar Films) and Allison Watkins (director, global consumer products and TV distribution, Coolabi). You can still register to attend BLE by clicking on this link.

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