Cartoons On The Bay 2024: The natural synergy between Italy and Spain's Animation

Spain is the guest country of Cartoons On The Bay 2024, so A-list professionals in the sector have discussed co-production opportunities and financial advantages and presented the latest Spanish animations.

31 MAY 2024

Ignacio Peyró, Nathalie Martinez, Alessia Di Giacomo and Yago Fandiño

  • Facebook
  • X
  • Linkedin
  • Whatsapp

Italian and Spanish cultures are similar, so the exchange business opportunities have a long and prolific future path for both countries. For this reason, Cartoons On The Bay has selected Spain as a guest country in this 2024 edition, where A-list professionals have discussed co-production opportunities, financial advantages, and the latest Spanish animations. Nathalie Martinez, President, DIBOOS – Federación Española de Productores de Animación y Efectos Visuales, Cristian Jezdic, Vice President, Cartoon Italia and Mar Izquierdo, Coordinator, Basque.Audiovisual has offered an overview of the Spanish and Italian funding and tax incentive system for animation and kids' products.

Spain has the general scheme and the selective schemes, the difference among them is the budget of the production. "From 2.5 million and up goes to the general scheme. And then, if it's a more independent kind of production, it will go to selective schemes. It's more for artistic and cultural films," explained Martinez. "For the independent films, you can get to 800 to 1 million. If you are in a minority co-production, if you are the minority co-producer, then it's going to be a top of 300K," she detailed. She also added that whatever the money is in the budget for the subsidies in Spain for the movie industry, "we have an 8% reservation for animation, no matter what. So even if you compete with live-action movies in the same scheme, at least this 8% is guaranteed for animation investment," she asserted.

Basque Audiovisual is a brand founded by the Basque government that takes care of the promotion of cinema worldwide, not just animation, but also feature films, documentaries, short movies, etc. "We have our own funding that is also compatible with the national scheme of funding. Producers could access them through a local producer, so you have to partner with the producer in order to access all those funds", highlighted Mar Izquierdo, Coordinator, Basque Audiovisual. Regarding the animation funding, Izquierdo commented that Basque Audiovisual has planned funding just for animated movies for over 16 months. "Projects in the Basque language take more money than projects in European Spanish, but you producers can apply with either, always through your local partner or the public producer," she mentioned. Basque region also offers tempting tax incentives. "Producers can get up to 60% for projects in Spanish and can be 10% more if the shooting is in Basque," she said. "Our tax authorities are independent from Spain and among themselves. We have tax authorities in Biscay, Gipuzkoa, and in Àlaba. The good news is that because they are independent, they can grant producers the tax incentives without having to go to the local government," she added.

Cartoon Italia is the Italian Association of Animation Producers founded in the early ’90s to protect, support, and promote the industrial and artistic interests of animation on the Italian national territory and abroad. Cristian Jezdic, Vice President of the Association, mentioned the Italian funds destined for the Animation arena. The Cinema and Audiovisual total Fund is 696 million euros for 2024. The Tax credit is 412.7 million euro; the automatic funds are 21.3 million euro; the selective funds are 84.3 million euro, the funds destined to promotional activities are 136 million euro, there is also a strengthening of skills for 20.8 million euro and the support to cinema venues is 20 million euro. "The tax credit is quite high, and we also have automatic funds, which are quite new and very helpful because Italian producers have the chance to reinvest in new works, money that is collected from the success or the results of the previous series or films. If they have a gap in the new financing plan, they can reinvest this money in order to cover the gap," he commented.

Yago Fandiño, Director of ClanTV and Head of Children Content at RTVE, and Alessia Di Giacomo, Platforms and Channels Director at RTVE, talked about the bounds between Italy and Spain that currently are strong, but they can be more tied yet. "In the last two years, more than ten animated series with Italian DNA have been shown on Clan TV," said Fandiño. According to the executive, Clan TV is firmly committed to European productions (the European quota had over 68% in 2023), and among European countries, "Italy is usually the third or fourth country in terms of number of titles," he commented. "The Italian and Spanish animation industry shares visions, ways of work, and potentials, but we must get to know each other better and take advantage of the synergy that we can create," he added.

In her exposition, Di Giacomo mentioned the FAST strategy RTVE is implementing a kid's FAST Channel in order to engage that target. Currently, RTVE has seven FAST channels on RTVE Play dedicated to the main genres in terms of fiction, films, or documentaries, as well as single IPs and some pop-up ones for special events like Eurovision, and now they want to add also Kids. "We want to engage kids because FAST channel offers more connection with the characters, with the stories, because they are based on a 24-7 experience with multiple episodes of a few series or just a single one," she asserted. "We also need to improve our brand and our branded presence in the market because it is a very competitive moment, and it is also a way to diversify our revenues and to give a second life to our white libraries," she completed.

The opportunities of both Italy and Spain working together are multiples, they have already done some productions in the past and they will continue strafing ties in the future. Diego Ibáñez Belaustegui, Chief Brand Officer of Spain's DeAPlaneta, referred to the entrance of the DeAgostini group into the company that turned it into a Spanish-Italian society. "In the DeAplaneta every year, 2,500 new stories are created; every day, 7 new stories are published," he mentioned. “We are in charge of doing all the development of licensing, merchandising, publishing, and TV distribution at the international level of our brands,” he completed. 

Francesco Manfio mentioned the ties of the company with Spanish producers and talked about Gruppo Alcuni's new international production, "The Black Diamond Race," that have nine episodes of 45 minutes each. "Something absolutely out of the traditional standards," he affirmed. "For us, it's even more interesting because we are dealing with a target that is not exactly the target with which we deal with our series. Then another thing that I really like about this series is that the story takes place in Europe and in India, and I believe that this can also be another way to make stories that are bridged between continents, with functional, financial, and economic collaborations," he said. "Think about continents that can be loved by children, by the whole world; it's a common challenge between Italy and Spain and the other countries that will work with us in this new era."

Discussing how both countries can collaborate together even more, Ibáñez Belaustegui said that audiovisual business is simply now in crisis because it is absolutely globalized, and the streamers have had a big impact on it. "They created much more competence, much content, all these platforms attract and grab the attention of kids and this is a situation that cannot be changed," he said, but he also asserted that there is a positive thing. "Italy and Spain have the economic capacity to finance one hundred percent a property capable of competing on an international level. We don't need to make a whole series of 52 11-minute episodes for 6, 7, 8 million euros. I think that here there are many ideas that can move forward with the new platforms," he said.

Manfio commented that there are two markets where Italian and Spanish producers can participate, the global and international one, where it's clear that a lot of money is needed as well as a great idea. "In this market, it is unthinkable to be able to make a series with less than 7-8 million euros, and for that, we think of Italy, we think of Spain, we think of Germany", he added. "On the other hand I believe that we must invest in small productions, in another type of production that allows us to make small series for mobile, with lower budgets which in my opinion is another challenge, however, I believe we absolutely must be there," he concluded.


Returning to Italy, Federica Pazzano, moderator of the panel "The Future of Italian Animation: The Role of the IP's" asked the Animation experts Francesco Manfio, General Manager at Gruppo Alcuni, and Federica Maggio, President and Producer at Enanimation, how to create a successful brand and how the creation of strong IPs is the fundamental point to be able to commercialize products related to entertainment for kids. "There is no magic formula to create a successful IP, this is certain, but starting from a product that already exists (like a book), certainly helps to build a potential, a possibility of subsequent development that is much more likely than an IP original, because without a doubt there are many that have been made," she expressed. She also referred to turning an IP into a brand. "On the one hand, it is true that it is necessary to consolidate what you have; on the other hand, it is also necessary to experiment and innovate, so I believe that there must be a general balance," she added.

Manfio mentioned that Italian producers have to invest, in a greater way, in the creation of the IP. "This is the fundamental thing because there's always this connection between the brand and the studio that has created it," he asserted. "We have to invest in creating these brands. Doing it is a so difficulty, but we have to accept this challenge, otherwise, I'm afraid we will be marginalized," he mentioned. He also brought up the AI concept. "When we talk about artificial intelligence, it will be a support for our creatives, but the creatives are us; it's not artificial intelligence," he stood out.

Maggio and Manfio also discussed the dilemma of creating an Italian IP for the global market or creating an Italian IP that conserves its original language, title, and culture. "Since our vocation is to make a product to export, this is our mission; we never start with a product thinking of just the Italian market; we always think of it abroad. In fact, it seems stupid, but already it is difficult to do it", she said. Manfio mentioned Gruppo Alcuni's successful Italian IP, "Leo Da Vinci." "We thought that Leo could be something that would go around the world, and in fact, it has been sold to 80 countries in the world; the film came out, the series came out, and so we solved the problem," he explained.

By Romina Rodriguez from Pescara