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U.S. Animation Execs Seek Out Partners in London

Film London aims to bring more international projects to the U.K. capital

LONDON — Film London, a publicly-funded agency that supports the film and TV biz in the U.K. capital, is hosting six animation execs from the U.S. this week.

The visit is part of the agency’s drive to encourage more international production to come to the city on the back of the introduction of the tax reliefs for high-end television and animation announced last year.

The visitors, who include senior reps from the Jim Henson Company, DreamWorks Animation, Amazon Studios, Frederator Networks, NBC Universal’s Sprout and Mattel’s Playground Productions, will take part in a three-day program designed to promote London’s animation sector.

The program includes one–to-one meetings with London animation houses, including Collingwood & Co., Blink Industries, Lupus Films and Karrot Entertainment, and presentations from Tony Orsten, the chief executive of motion-capture facility The Imaginarium (Warner’s “Godzilla”), and Alan Dewhurst, producer of “Peter and the Wolf,” which won the Academy Award for best short film in 2008.

The U.S. executives also have the opportunity to visit a range of animation and FX houses in the capital, including Blue-Zoo, Passion Pictures, Cinesite, Nexus Productions and Mind Candy.

The exec attending are Andrew Beecham, Sprout’s senior VP, programming; Marge Dean, Playground’s director, production; Peter Gal, DreamWorks Animation’s head of TV development; Blanca Lista,
director of feature development at Jim Henson; Carrie Miller, network manager at Frederator Studios; and Tara Sorensen, head of kids programming at Amazon Studios.

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “With animation, the tax relief has already ensured we are retaining U.K. production, but this represents the first time the U.K. has undertaken a proactive mission to attract international investment. And in starting with the U.S.’s major animation companies, we are aiming high, but I know our London animators can more than deliver.”

London is already home to international pre-school hits including “Peppa Pig,” “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!” and “Amazing World of Gumball,” as well as model animation features such as Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” and Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

There is a broad range of animation talent in London, ready to take on all demands, from CGI to CelAction, stop frame to puppetry, pre-school to art house.

Last week, Film London hosted a delegation of Canadian high-end television producers.

That delegation, which was organized with Ontario Media Development Corporation, included reps from Take 5 (“Reign”), eOne (“Bitten”), Pier 21 (“Treasures Decoded”), Aircraft Pictures (“Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”), Mulmur Feed Co. (“Still Mine”), Darius (“The Art of the Steal”), White Pine Pictures (“The Border”), Don Carmody Prods. (“Pompeii”), Inner City Films (“High Chicago”) and Riverside Entertainment (“Transporter: The Series”), all of which have projects in development suitable for U.K. co-production.

Film London connected them with London production companies that also want to develop co-productions, including Ruby Film and Television (“Dancing on the Edge”), Kudos (“Broadchurch”) and Scott Free Productions (“Labyrinth”).

“U.K. and Canadian producers alike are producing innovative, high-quality, compelling content that is in demand by audiences around the world. Canada and the U.K. have a long history of working together to create great film and television, and we believe that it’s time to re-invest in that relationship,” said Karen Thorne-Stone, president and CEO of OMDC.

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