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Fortified by top executive appointments, London-based Academy Award winning Passion Pictures is driving powerfully into long-form animation.

It has already produced episodes of cult Netflix series “Love, Death & Robots” – “Life Hatch” and “Ice,” which scored three Emmy Awards – as well as Netflix’s “Headspace,” Disney’s “101 Dalmatian Street” and Nickelodeon’s “Lego City Adventures.”

Building on that, Passion will unveil two new projects, “Greetings from the Apocalypse” and “Love,” at the MIFA TV Series & Specials Pitches on June 16. Passion is the only company to have two titles in this category which currently packs a lot of the excitement and innovation at the cutting edge of current animation.

Produced by Passion Pictures Animation and U.S.-based Entertainment 360, “Greetings from the Apocalypse” is directed by France’s Maryka Laudet and Quentin Camus. Recent graduates from its École des Nouvelles Images their credits include a series of shorts – “Xmas Hold ‘Em,” “Back to Cave One” and “Wild Love” – all knit by chic CG visuals and a dark humor.

Written by Summer Plair, the eight-part half hour series is “a futuristic survival story, a story about two women who are trying to survive in a futuristic, apocalyptic wasteland,” said David Park, a Pixar veteran who was appointed Passion Pictures Animation head of production in 2021.

One woman is a fugitive freedom fighter, the other an outcast bounty hunter. They take to an automotive, nick-named the MotherBeast, to try to escape a vicious posse of pursuing bandits.

“Greetings from the Apocalypse” is also “a dark comedy about survival and how to remain human,” Park told Variety in the run up to Annecy.

Billed as “unconventional love stories” plumbing “what it means to love and be loved in today’s world,” “Love” is directed by Anna Mantzaris.

A three-part miniseries, it follows six characters sharing the same city, as they explore their inner desires and attempt to find connection. That can involve unconventional relationships, sexual kinks, and modern romance, the logline reads.

In some ways, the two potential series are chalk and cheese. “Greetings” is made in CG, “Love” uses stop motion. “Love” is “an anthology-type series, following intersecting stories; “Greetings”  is very much a serialized story following these two characters throughout the entire season,” said Passion Pictures Animation’s executive producer Debbie Crosscup.

The Lure of Adult Animation

Both, however, are adult animation, as it emerges as one of the most dynamically growing and innovative spaces on the contemporary animation scene.

“Telling more sophisticated stories in the adult or 14-plus realm is exciting. It allows us to tell the the stories with a level of sophistication that we’re interested in,” said Park.

Both series underscore Passion’s philosophy of encouraging director-driven fare.

“One of the things that we really encourage directors to do is to find a character that you love and explore their stories,” said Crosscup.

“One day without telling anybody, Maryka and Quentin posted a short test on Instagram, [of ‘Greetings’’  freedom fighter]. We all saw it and said: ‘You’ve got to explore that character.’ Very quickly they built out an entire world, a whole mythology and and history of characters.”

“Greetings from the Apocalypse” also plays in a 2D/3D sandpit.

“Quentin and Maryka studied CG. That’s their background. But they wanted to create a CG project that had a graphic 2D look, a sort of graphic novel style,” Crosscup told Variety.

She recalled: “They’re very excited about pushing the envelope in terms of what the characters could look like, but still getting the benefit of having them in 3D, with the kind of depth and scale of the world that can be created when working in 3D.”

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Love Credit: Passion Pictures

Passion’s Talent Roster

Swedish but based in London, Anna Mantzaris is maybe best known for directing for Passion Paris the short “Enough.” Selected for the Vimeo Staff Pick of the Year, a series delivers totally relatable scenes in which one or more characters suddenly decide they’ve had enough, erupting in anger or desperate acts.

In an animation world where success will be decided by access to talent, Mantzaris and Maryka and Quentin, as the directorial duo is known, belong to a remarkable Passion roster of two dozen or more animation directors which also includes Robert Valley, who directed “Love Death & Robots” episodes “Ice” and Zima Blue.”

“Passion has one of the greatest collections of directing talent in animation across all styles on the planet,” Park enthused. “The level of artistry here in terms of directors and stop motion, in 2D and in CG, is just awe inspiring for me as somebody who loves animation.”

Passion will need this talent pool. Highly eclectic, its development slate also takes in features and series for younger kids, Park said.

Passion’s animation team is currently in production on a highly-anticipated animated series for a major streamer and working on a broad range of original features and episodic series, with a number of major streamers and studio partners with development deals already in place, it confirmed Monday.

It did so announcing the appointment of Nicki Cortese as head of development on animated features and series, including “Love” and “Greetings From the Apocalypse.”

A highly successful factual, animation and commercials company with bases in London, Paris, and Barcelona, Passion Pictures, founded by Andrew Ruhemann, has made a splash in doc production, producing 1999’s “One Day in September” and 2012’s “Searching for Sugar Man ,” both of which won Academy Awards.

Passion has been making animation for years. Ruhemann himself scored an Academy Award for best animated short film in 2011, co-directing “The Lost Thing” with Shaun Tan.