Since 2015, a growing number of animation studios and post-production houses have been landing in Spain’s Navarre, driven by a 40% tax deduction for R&D and tech innovation activities. Spanish productions and co-production also have access to a 35% tax credit. Pamplona-based Dr. Platypus & Ms. Wombat, co-founded by Carlos Fernández de Vigo and Lorena Ares and credited on feature films such as “Memoirs of a Man in Pajamas” and “The Swallows of Kabul” and videogames (“Zombeer”), is working on its first Navarre-based animated feature production, “DinoGames,” which played at the 2017 Annecy MIFA market as a transmedia project and has high-profile Barcelona-based Grangel Studio on board.
How has “DinoGames” evolved from a transmedia to a feature film project?
“DinoGames” maintains its transmedia spirit because it’s in its DNA since we wrote the first line of the script. During my career, I have written and directed videogames for many platforms, including smartphones, Nintendo’s PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, or Wii, among others. I’ve also written and directed animation. Lorena Ares, who participates in the film’s script and co-directs, also has professional experience in both videogames and animated films. “DinoGames” was born as the result of this double background.
“DinoGames” is a transmedia production whose strategy starts with the feature film and, in particular, with the design of characters by the Grangel Studios team.
Has Grangel Studios’ involvement in the project evolved? What does it being to the table?
Having the Grangel Studios team on board is literally a dream come true. When the Annecy Festival selected “DinoGames” for a MIFA Pitch, we were able to come up with a preliminary study of some characters that the Grangel brothers did. Now we’re entering an exciting new phase: Character design and visual treatment. Also, their participation in modeling supervision is key to ensuring that they don’t miss out on an ounce of talent and magic that Grangel brought to films such as “Hotel Transylvania” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
The Grangel team will also provide the graphic line via Carles Burgès, creator of the graphic brand of titles such as Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride.”
To get a glimpse of what the Grangel team can contribute, it’s important to understand that “DinoGames” is a story full of magical characters and impossible worlds that inspires, but also demands, creativity and imagination from the entire team. It is key that the starting point, which will inspire and motivate all artists involved in the production, has the best possible quality to produce a high-level creative inertia. “DinoGames” is also designed for the international market, aimed to be licensed in the toy industry and compatible for viewing on tablets and mobiles, so having such an experienced team represents an important guarantee for us.
Platypus will produce “DinoGames” in Pamplona. How does the project benefit from that?
The feature film production will be done through a Navarre AIE (Economic Interest Grouping) to access the tax incentive system offered by Navarre’s government. Navarre is developing a long-term strategy to grow an animation industry. After almost three years working in Pamplona, we have seen how different public and private agents are effectively aligned, to establish a solid animation industry, with an eye on the long term. “DinoGames” aims to be part of this initiative, along with productions such as Apolo Films’ “D’Artacán & the Three Muskedogs” and The ThinkLab Media’s “Inspector Sun.”
Being part of this initiative also implies contributing, supporting and collaborating from many points of view, such as training and attracting talent, promoting the region and attracting projects, as was the case with “The Swallows of Kabul,” from France’s Les Armateurs, part of whose lighting animation we was made in Pamplona.
So far, we’ve been fortunate to win support from the Navarre Employment Service for industry training and Sodena, to study possible financing options. The Audiovisual Cluster of Navarra (Clavna), together with Nicdo, are also key institutions in this whole strategy.
What is “DinoGames” production plan?
In the next six months, we will close the development stage and, although we all know that we are living in times of uncertainty, our goal is to start production in mid-2021.
“Dinogames” and “Ava y los monstruos,” another Platypus animation project, have won support from Spanish public broadcaster RTVE. ¿What does this mean for the studio?
In the case of “Ava,” our studio provides services to the production company, Doce Entertainment. In fact, several professionals trained thanks to the Navarre Employment Service form part of the “Ava” team and my partner Lorena Ares directs.
RTVE participates in both “DinoGames'” feature film and series projects. It’s very relevant for us for RTVE to share our “DinoGames” vision as an IP with transmedia potential, when, for example, we address international markets.
Producing animation in Navarre looks like an increasingly attractive option. What are your future plans?
To continue working along the same line of the last years: Launching and consolidating an international and high-quality animation industry in order to develop as much work as possible for our Navarre-set productions, as well as attracting quality production services to the region.