Toon Power Builds on Strong Foundation


For the third year in a row, Spain trails only France in the number of animated projects set to pitch in March at Bordeaux’s 2022 Cartoon Movie, a key international event for the artform.

Spanish producers will bring 10 feature projects to the event, including two from Lorena Ares and Carlos Fernández de Vigo in “Moonbeam” and “DinoGames,” María Trenor’s “Rock Bottom,” Lorenzo Degl’Innocenti and Xosé Zapata’s “Draw” and Carmen Córdoba’s “A World of Their Own.”

From the slate, four are international co-productions, two boast budgets more than €8 million ($9.04 million) and seven of the 10 projects are aimed at adult audiences, mirroring a recent global trend.

With a glut of projects currently in the works from Spain, several other possible gems include Pablo Berger’s Elle Driver-sold “Robot Dreams,” Warner Bros. España and 4 Cats Pictures’ co-production “Momias” (Mummies) Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s “They Shot the Piano Player” – sold by Film Constellation – Salvador Simó’s SC Films Intl.-sold “Dragonkeeper,” and the third release from the popular “Tadeo Jones” franchise.

Spain has a long and solid tradition in animation, particularly in developing talent. The country also boasts first-class schools and specialized events such as the Quirino Awards, Weird Market and Animac.

In recent years, Spanish animation highlights include Oscar-nominated “Klaus,” from SPA Studios, Annecy Jury Award-winner “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles” and the European Film Award-winning “Another Day of Life.”

Additionally, Madrid and Barcelona’s regional governments have both recently announced the creation of local animation and VFX hubs.

More crucial is the new state regulations which have been implemented. Tax rebates triple and more the new cap for reimbursement on international shootings/productions and available state aid has increased to 75% (from 50%) of total budgets.

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Sultana’s Dreams Credit: Abano

Other local incentives include an increase in tax relief on foreign animation works carried out in the Canary Islands and a new tax incentive system offered by Navarre’s government.

“I praise the new attitude Spain’s film body is adopting, it’s being smart and strategic. A new measure should be the creation of a specific funding line for experienced animation producers,” said producer David Matamoros.

Catalonia, for instance, has devoted a funding line specifically to animation. “In the past, there were only one or two animation projects applying for public funds, but since the new line was incorporated there are regularly four or five,” Matamoros says.

“If the ecosystem works… results emerge immediately,” producer Ivan Agenjo. Dangers, he warned, are a lack of available talent and a distribution bottleneck.

Four animated features were produced out of Spain in 2017, two in 2018, five in 2019 and one in 2020. Judging by the current pipeline, those numbers should rise significantly, and soon.

One situation facing producers is a strong demand for concrete jobs. During the pandemic, many senior Spanish animators found online work with foreign studios and now, “due to local demand, we find a scarce availability of senior animators,” says producer Chelo Loureiro (“Unicorn Wars” and “Sultana’s Dreams”).

“We’re going through a growth period like we’ve never seen in this country,” Nico Matji, president of Spanish animation association Diboos and producer said. “All Spanish people involved in animation are now working. In fact, we’ve got serious problems finding senior animators and compositors.”

Other producers, less enthusiastically, regretted the low involvement of public and commercial broadcasters and that few projects are family oriented, “which are the ones that create real industry,” says a producer who requested anonymity “We need to generate long-lasting IPs and increase aids for development.”

In short, the sector is facing a paradigm shift. A bulky slate of projects, new financial measures and increasing international partnerships are just a few reasons Spain’s animation industry is trending up.

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Robot Dreams Credit: Arcadia Motion Pictures