An incredible day at the UK China Animation Forum in Beijing – with 140 delegates, many of whom had travelled from other cities such as Shanghai and Hunan to attend – exploring the potential for connection between British and Chinese animation businesses.
With the significant support of the Chinese Ministry of Culture an “A List” of Chinese companies jpined us at the Sheraton Great Wall: Producers including China Animation Group, Shanghai Toonmax and Shanghai Fantasia; Mobile operators looking for content including Talkweb and China Mobile; and distribution and brand licensing agent U’Young, were among the speakers on the panels.
From the UK major producers and rights holders, BBC Worldwide, Hit Entertainment and Classic Media were joined by smaller independents such as Storyland, Kanoti and Gritty Realism.
Over the course of the day a mix of presentations, panel discussions exploring the opportunities and practicalities of co-production across film, TV and digital, and networking events enabled the companies to get an immediate snapshot of the market and begin to make connections which could lead to future partnerships.
I’ll write up the outcomes in more detail but just to pick out some themes for now:
- The availability of production finance is emphatically not a problem in China
- Chinese businesses are interested to partner with UK creatives as development is a structural weakness, especially when seeking to generate content which will play outside the local market
- Chinese businesses seek to create “brands” and exploit across multiple touch points, including merchandising (what they call “derivatives”), but are looking for assistance to bring those to an international market
- Mobile in China is growing rapidly and hungry for suitable content
- Film audiences are also expanding, although here distribution is an issue, with stereoscopic 3D a real driver
- TV animation businesses are focused on young audiences, especially pre-school, and looking for collaboration on more “soft educational” material than currently dominant “fantasy” product
Feedback from the Chinese attendees was uniformly positive and I know that the British companies have leads which they are following up. What was reinforced however is that this is a complex marketplace which needs time and attention to capitalise on the abundant potential – this event has to the start of a continuing dialogue to improve understanding and build long term relationships.
Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll expand the themes above in more detail – but I’m now in Singapore to get an update on the local opportunities and a view of the TV market in wider SE Asia at Asia TV Forum.
Finally a quick note to thank Angela Wang at CBBC and Karen Cheng at UKTI plus their teams in putting together the event in Beijing – photos, presentations and videos will be shared ASAP.