GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Guillermo del Toro is creating an international animation center specializing in stop motion in his home city of Guadalajara, Mexico, the director announced Saturday morning at the Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival (FICG), during a masterclass given by Melissa Cobb, Netflix vice president, kids & family.
Details remain scarce, but the idea of one of the world’s best known cineasts leading the charge on an animation center in Mexico, whose local animation industry is building fast this century, is exciting.
The announcement comes as Del Toro himself is making his animated feature film directing debut for Netflix on “Pinocchio,” a stop-motion musical version of the children’s classic.
The hub will be officially called the Centro Internacional de Animación, the CIA, Del Toro said at Guadalajara, eliciting audience laughter. But it will unofficially be known as el Taller del Chucho (literally, “Little Dog Workshop”).
Del Toro encouraged the predominantly young Guadalajara audience, if they wanted a career in animation, to join the workshop and do any job available in the first instance. “There is no better road than the immediate one. Working your way up is really important . If you are gonna be a filmmaker understand all the elements going into making a film. No moment of being a PA or note-taking or picking up after an animator, none of that is wasted. It’s all super-valuable growth.”
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Stop-motion is “one of the few things you can do with little money, with a few friends, at a scale that is possible,” he added.
The CIA’s role will be to support and service the burgeoning stop-motion animation industry which already exists in Guadalajara, he said, pointing out that he was getting involved “completely out of love of animation, and that’s it.”
“There is real talent in stop-motion in Guadalajara,” Del Toro enthused, saying that the Center also aimed to invite production houses from outside to come and give training workshops, and to “create a connection between Guadalajara and the international market.”
It might not be coincidental that Del Toro made the announcement of the Guadalajara Intl. Animation Center in conversation with Netflix’s Melissa Cob.
Kids & family entertainment is one of Netflix trinity of basic release pillars, along with comedies and dramas, according to an Ampere Analysis study of Netflix releases.
As studios such as Disney have famously pulled programming from Netflix, the U.S. streaming studio must look to other sources to make up the shortfall. Foreign-language animation is one, and a programming which can easily travel: Kids don’t care or indeed distinguish where animation comes from, just whether they like it.
Presented at Annecy’s Mifa market last year, and produced by former Mexican Cinematheque director Paula Astorga and producer Milko Luis, “Inzomnia,” said to be Mexico’s first stop-motion animation feature, has been developed and put into pre-production at Guadalajara.
That is just one production from the area which can look to a domestic audience in Mexico which is the world’s third biggest market for animation in terms of tickets sold, after the U.S. and China, according to a European Audiovisual Observatory study.