French vfx startups buck bearish trend

Smaller companies are more affordable, flexible

PARIS — While some of Gaul’s biggest, most prestigious vfx and toon companies are feeling the pinch, a new breed of smaller companies — offering low-cost services, including Indigenes Prods., Supamonks and Wip Studios — has bucked the trend.

“These companies are banking on the merging of vidgames and films, Web series, TV productions and commercials,” says Ile de France Film Commission’s marketing topper Yann Marchet, who’s one of the organizers of Parisfx — Creative Ile de France, the showcase of Gallic vfx, which runs Nov. 18-19.

Launched in 2003, Indigenes Prods. has been specializing in compositing, special effects, greenscreen filming and post-production for TV docudramas and toons. Shingle notably co-produced TV hit “Trafalgar,” a historical docudrama featuring CGI settings and greenscreen background shooting.

Supamonks was created in 2006 as an animation company, but it quickly diversified and started piling up work on vidgame trailers (notably Ubisoft’s), websites and TV commercials to feed the pipeline. Founded by five young filmmakers who previously worked for major French studios, including Mac Guff and Mikros, Supamonks also is actively pursuing animation work. The studio is developing “Les Metiers,” a short-format GGI-animated skein, and it has been tapped by the up-and-coming shingle TeamTO to work on “Oasis,” a CGI toon co-produced by France’s TF1 and Nickelodeon.

“Since we’re a small structure, we’re cheaper and more flexible than larger groups in France,” says Supamonks co-founder Pierre de Cabissole.

Wip Studios, which has hired 10 staffers and roughly 10 freelancers, focuses on visual effects and post-production for TV series and is now starting to work on features. So far this year the company has worked on 88 projects, including commercials, TV dramas and six features.

Wip’s co-creator, Damien Maric, says the studio handles between 30 and 200 shots per film and offers highly competitive rates. “There’s currently a revival of ambitious French fiction, and more and more TV producers are looking for affordable visual effects,” Maric says. “It’s a growing market.”

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