ANNECY, France – An early bellwether of how successful locally produced TV content can be, Brazil’s TV animation industry is reaching new heights, backed by growing government support and recent broadcast quotas.
2018 has seen a massive hike in available financing from Brazil’s Audiovisual Sector Fund. Just weeks ago, the organization increased money earmarked for animated features, TV and gaming from $137 million a year to just north of $370 million.
According to Sérgio Sá Leitão, Brazil’s Minister for Culture, the organization has already launched 17 investment lines, 11 through the fund, and six through Ancine, the state-run film agency which contributes to the regulation, promotion and monitoring of the Brazilian audiovisual industry.
Money isn’t free however, and the government expects a return on that investment. According to Sá Leitão, almost 95% of all the money in the investment fund must be delivered to the market through equity investment, though recoupment favors producers.
“We are going to invest a lot in that fund,” Sá Leitão told Variety, “and I think there is a lot of money to be earned in terms of revenues with the distribution and exhibition of our library.”
Beyond that initial return on investment, there is also potential for the animation industry to act as a key contributor towards long-term economic stimulation.
“Most institutions,” explains Leila Bourdoukan, former executive manager at Cinema do Brasil, “the culture secretaries, Brazil’s minister of culture and the state governments, have specific supports for animation. Animation is a labor-intensive activity which provides work for young people.”
And there are concrete numbers to support that claim. According to a report from the Federação da Indústria do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian creative economy GDP totaled $47 billion in 2015, or 2.64% of the country’s total GDP. That number was up from 2.56% the previous year.
“Brazil has a strong and diverse creative economy, internationally renowned and with the potential to reach even farther, whether in audiovisual – more specifically, animation – music, fashion, design, art, and literature, among other industries,” said Márcia Nejaim, business director at APEX-Brazil, an organization which supports 12 creative-sector initiatives, and will be bringing four of them to Annecy this year: Brazilian Content, Cinema do Brazil, Film Brazil and Brazil Music Exchange.
Another major motivating factor, particularly in TV, are quotas approved in 2011 and enacted in 2012, which mandate how much locally-produced content each Brazilian broadcaster must air.
“They were really important for the Brazilian TV market. It changed the market. It’s 3.5 hours a week, which some might say isn’t much, but it created a huge demand for new content,” says Rachel do Valle, executive manager at Brasil Audiovisual Independente (BRAVI).
One of Brazil’s most successful series, even before the quotas were established, was TV Pinguim’s “Fishstronaut.” Kiki Mistrorigo, partner and executive producer at the company, explained how their series acted as a sort of proof-of-concept.
“When it started airing in 2009, it was one of a kind,” he told Variety. “It was a really great example to show that a series that was 100% Brazilian could compete with any other. ‘Fishtronaut’ became the example that allowed the government to realize the necessity of changing laws regarding paid TV.”
Creatively, the content being produced for TV has become increasingly diverse in ambition and style, evident in the two submissions to the official TV competition at this year’s Annecy Festival. “Angeli the Killer” is a NSFW, sex and drug-fueled stop-motion adaptation from a series of comics going back 30 years; while “Jorel’s Brother” is a Copa Studios-Cartoon Network Latin America co-production aimed at kids with a look and sense of humor that fits in with the content being broadcast by the network in any territory around the world.
BRAVI’s do Valle summed up the current ambitions of the industry nicely. “I think there is potential to travel more, and a chance for huge Brazilian success in other countries.”