ANNECY, France — Announced at this year’s Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival, the Paris-based Gobelins School of Images and Netflix have partnered on a pair of initiatives intended to foster greater equality in animation opportunities available to students.
2019 Gobelins graduate Claire Matz has been selected as the recipient of the first Netflix Animation Fellowship, developed to provide one Gobelins graduate per year the opportunity to relocate to Japan and work in a post-grad program alongside Netflix’s Japanese-based animation team on original anime titles.
Inspired by the energy the student participants bring to Annecy, the selected participant will be announced annually at the festival.
“There is such a love here in France, and especially at Gobelins, for anime,” Netflix director, Japan and anime John Derderian explained to Variety after the platform’s Tuesday night presentation: Netflix Original Anime: A Celebration of Anime and a Look Ahead.
“My childhood was inspired by Japanese manga and anime like the Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion series,” said Matz in a statement. “So I am excited to start my professional career in a country whose rich culture and long history in animation production I love.”
“Claire will imbed right in with a lot of the studios we’re working with, as well as the team in our office where we are developing a kind of incubator,” Derderian explained, before summarizing: “It’s an investment into young people coming into animation.”
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The second initiative will see Netflix grant four-year scholarships to as many as ten students a year from across the African continent to attend the French animation school. The students will take part in the Master of Arts in character animation and animated filmmaking program, with the first class to be announced in September.
“We realize that the pool of talent for creators we want to draw from won’t just be from the U.S.,” Melissa Cobb, Netflix vice president, kids & family told Variety. “We picture ourselves five and ten years down the road having an equal number of creators doing content for us all over the world.”
“We really tried to think of where we were not hearing the voices of the world in animation as much as in other places, so we started with the idea of the African continent,” she went on. “We want to see how we can grow the talent, because the talent from that area hasn’t had access to this kind of education.”
The programs come at an opportune time for the streaming giant, when talent is as an absolute premium. With the emergence of so many streaming platforms that now compete alongside the traditional studio powerhouses, it has become advantageous for everyone to cast a wide net and get involved early when looking for the next generation of animation talent.