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The Cartoon Business conference is held once a year, and this time the professionals gathered in Tampere to talk animation business: financing, development and distribution of animation works. 

Cartoon Business opening session
Opening words by Yolanda Alonso, Anna-Kaisa Heinämäki, Liisa Vähäkylä. Photo: Mirella Mellonmaa

The focus of Cartoon Business 2019 was on international market and global scale thinking. Keynote speaker Sarah Muller of Sony Pictures Entertainment described the huge change in the ways children use media, especially animation. No more linear and local viewing for the young digital natives, and when consuming patterns evolve, so must production business models, hence the main themes of the conference:

– How to create content that is relevant to the international market, how to fund it and make money out of it, to be able to continue with what you do best, describes Yolanda Alonso, Director of Cartoon Masters & Cartoon Connection.

For traditional broadcasters the changing media habits and new platforms are a challenge, for animation producers and financiers also an opportunity to, for example, get visibility on more than one platform. One thing remains true, according to Alonso, story is still the king and content has to be great to succeed.

– There is a real demand for content, and especially for content that is not platform-specific. Not just TV, but a toy, a game… says Alonso.

The more there are channels and platforms, the more there is demand for content.

Showcasing Finland and Tampere

For Tampere, the conference was an opportunity to become better known as a business hub among the animation producers and financiers. Studios with the latest technology, highly skilled professionals and production-friendly environment make Tampere an excellent platform for all kinds of audiovisual productions.

’Focus on animation in Finland’ session presented what’s appealing in Finland for an animation production. The cash rebate is one thing, but considering that a production may take 2 to 3 years, a friendly environment is rated high in any producer’s wish list.

– The quality of life, the level of education, the fact that things get done quickly… you can easily see what is so attractive in Finland, Alonso summarizes.

Cartoon Business conference attendees
Cartoon Business at Tampere Hall. Photo: Mirella Mellonmaa

Visual Effects Supervisor Samuli Torssonen of Troll Visual Effects is a perfect match to talk about animation in Tampere. The company is strongly Tampere-based with only a small office in Helsinki, and since 2012 they have been creating visual effects for TV, film and commercials. When need be, they bring international talents to Tampere to share the workload.

– Tampere Region is great for that, our artists love it. Compact, easy to get around, lots of activities, Torssonen says.

Not to forget about the finances: Finland has a 25 % cash rebate and Tampere grants 10–15 % on top of that for eligible costs in the Tampere Region. 

For Troll the local extra has secured some important projects, and if you ask a financial expert, regional incentive may just as well be the decisive piece of a puzzle. Timo Argillander is Managing Partner at IPR.VC, a venture investor focused on media content.

– Incentives are an important part of the package, but the number one goal is to make excellent content, Argillander states.

Going global

IPR.VC invests in content, mainly TV and film, animation included. Argillander encourages producers to think globally and plan their projects for international market from the beginning. Tampere is as good starting point for such projects as any.

– From my point of view, Tampere has the credibility, there is talent, there is good ’buzz’, and also a remarkable game industry. Animation and games are kind of related, and we are always hoping to find more good transmedial content, says Argillander. 

At the same time and in the same building, a new exhibition on the history of Moomin animation opened in the Moomin Museum. Over six decades, many different animated versions have been made. The latest one ’Moominvalley’ by Gutsy Animations also a subject of discussion in the internationally themed conference 

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