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Spanish Animation Embraces International Collabs

Spanish Animation is ready for more international collaborations in the near future, but there is one stipulation: “Passion is mandatory,” said Hampa Studio’s Álvaro García González. Behind “The Treasure of Barracuda,” the company is currently eyeing Latin America. 

“Anybody who makes animation needs passion. Otherwise, you would work in a different industry. We are a great country to co-produce with. Also because of very competitive prices, compared with the rest of Europe.” 

Speaking at Annecy’s Animation from Spain: The Spanish Animation Industry in the Spotlight panel, González was accompanied by Daysi Cruz Cid of Morgana Studios, which joined forces with ReachStar and ReDefine Originals on upcoming Dominican Republic-set baseball pic “Diamante.” 

“We care a lot about people and about culture. That’s why ‘Diamante’ was born. We wanted to give back to the Dominican Republic. It’s about passion, again, and the pursuit of happiness. We are proud of thinking outside of the box,” she said. 

Other local companies are also exploring different paths. 

“We love to learn from our co-producers, especially when it comes to the financial side. What we are looking for now are people with a big interest in learning: who want to be a part of the change, instead of waiting [for it to happen],” observed Carlos F. de Vigo, CEO and founder of Dr. Platypus & Ms. Wombat. 

That includes the ongoing A.I. revolution, which the company tackles in its lab Professor Octopus. In a new project, “Emotional Films,” teased at the fest, “a film is changing in real time.”

“In the last six years, we have been investing everything we have – and what we don’t have – into A.I. It’s an opportunity but it’s also a risk, and we want to control that risk.”

In the meantime, Spain has been celebrating quite a few success stories at Annecy, from “Sultana’s Dream” by Isabel Herguera – a co-pro between Spain, Germany and India – to David Baute’s climate crisis drama “Black Butterflies,” linking companies in Spain and Panama. 

“When I met David back in 2016, I thought I was so lucky just to listen to his story,” said Edmon Roch of Barcelona’s Ikiru Films. 

“He used to make documentaries, but he knew he wanted to tell this in animation. He knew that to reach the right audience, to make it more global, he had to detach himself from the real people he has been following for years and years.” 

Sultana’s Dream
Abano Producions

Herguera, inspired by 1905 Bengali feminist utopia and her own travels, also didn’t shy away from real life, hosting workshops in India “to know what’s the relevance of the story today” and eventually incorporating some local techniques. 

“For me, the greatest pleasure of animation comes from working with my hands, trying out different materials and seeing how the story reveals itself. This artisan look, it’s also an attitude towards filmmaking,” she noted. But, as pointed out by producer Diego Herguera Acosta, new technology is never too far away. 

“On ‘Sultana,’ we began using digital tools to imitate analogue painting. We started working with A.I., too, to test the limits of this tool. It’s still an experiment. We will let you know how it works in a few months.” 

Still, the human component was also on María Trénor’s mind, now behind one of the buzziest Annecy titles “Rock Bottom” about the life and the music of Robert Wyatt. Trénor, who also took part in Variety’s Innovation and Inspiration in Global Animation panel, collaborated with actors during the animation process. 

“It makes the whole production process more human,” she said about her first feature.

“When I met Robert Wyatt 10 years ago, by chance, I was already a fan of his music. He was so kind I was brave enough to suggest making a film with his music and he said ‘yes’. He also said: ‘Do what you want.’ I was so lucky.”

Finding a producer willing to take on an “edgy auteur film for adults” wasn’t easy – until she met Alba Sotorra Clua.

“She supports projects made by women. Risky projects.”

“It was an adventure, because I have never produced animation before. But I saw this film as live-action. I am also a fan of Wyatt and I was really impressed by Maria’s artistic vision. I like challenges, so I said: ‘Let’s go’,” laughed Alba Sotorra Clua.

“When drafting the budget, I was worried about the music rights. But Wyatt made sure we got the rights to the whole album and other songs for the price that allowed us to invest more in other parts of the process. It was important to create a gender-balanced team, where women could take positions of leadership, and to offer them a step forward in their careers.” 

“Rock Bottom” was co-produced with Poland. 

“Spain, as a country to collaborate with, is very interesting – for many reasons. We have many talented creators and access to minority co-production funds,” she added.  

So far, “numbers speak for themselves,” stated Animac festival director Carolina López Caballero. 

“In Annecy’s official selection, we have three feature films, two shorts, one TV series and one WIP, ‘Olivia and the Invisible Earthquake.’”   

“All these projects show a great deal of diversity, technically and creatively, and almost all of them are international co-productions. The title of this panel is not a pick-up line – it’s reality. These producers love to co-produce, love to collaborate and they seem to be doing it right.”

“Black Butterflies”
Annecy

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