Company takes rights on Spanish 3D toonpic

MADRID — Galician production house Artefacto Producciones has linked with L.A.-based Tricoast Worldwide for one of the last pieces of financing on “O Apostolo,” a pioneering European stereoscopic 3D stop-motion pic.

Tricoast has taken international sales rights outside Spain, including U.S., on Fernando Cortizo’s feature debut, a mystery drama that turns on an apparently sleepy Galician village — just off the Way of St. James, the pilgrims route to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, north-west Spain — that lives under a 600-year curse.

The deal points to the way ahead for Europe’s burgeoning S3D production scene. Outside of France, a local S3D film is a contradiction in terms: They cost too much to recoup from their local market alone. International deals are a must.

“Apostolo” was originally budgeted at Euros2 million ($2.7 million). Put into production in S3D, the budget has finally come in at $10.2 million, said producer Isabel Rey at lead producer Arefacto.

Pic’s budget is modest for a S3D film but still needs international sales to move into profit.

” ‘Apostolo’ is an event, a huge tourist attraction, edgy and very well executed,” said Tricoast CEO Ami Artzi, who will show a S3D trailer, and most probably other scenes, at April’s Mip TV and May’s Cannes Film Festival.

“Apostolo’s” groundbreaking S3D status may have upped the budget, but it’s also helped attract Spanish financing. Outside a Spanish distribution contract, “Apostolo” will pull down around $4 million from Spain, said Rey. Funding includes subsidies from Galicia’s Xunta government and Spain’s Icaa film institute, Galician pubcaster TVG coin, multiple low-net worth individual investment, and a grant from Xacobeo 2010, set up to celebrate Santiago de Compostela’s 2010 Holy Year.

Rosalia Mera’s Rosp Corunna co-produces; “Apostolo” production is cash-flowed by European Investment Bank credit, via Galicia’s Igape regional development fund, a Spain’s Audiovisual SGR bank guarantee scheme.

Many technicians and composer Philip Glass are part paid by profit participations.

Despite its international ambitions, the pic’s characters and sets — thatched cottages with lattice windows; Santiago’s stunning Baroque-Gothic Cathedral — are redolently local. Even the pic’s quality of light draws on Galicia, said cinematographer Matthew Hazelrig.

“Apostolo’s” specific setting may of course be part of its attractions.

But the pic has never been very local in key tech talent. It draws, like other stop-motion films, on a traveling troupe of techies, which set up camp for months or more on a production, and then move on.

“Coraline” alums on “Apostolo” include Hazelrig, a “Coraline” gaffer, Misha Klein, a “Coraline” animator, now animation director, and Tim Taylor, overseeing motion control and stereoscoping.

In all, 21 crew members, including most model-makers, were sourced from “Coraline,” “Fantastic Mr Fox” or “The Corpse Bride.”

Pic will world preem July 25, as part of the Xacobeo 2010 celebrations.

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