No, this isn’t the MIPCOM market.
You’d think that a week before leaving for Cannes – the fabled town associated with movie stars and red carpets – would be full of excitement and anticipation. Well, perhaps for most people.
For those TV producers attending MIPCOM (yes, that includes those who make cartoons), it’s a stressful cocktail of preparing pitch and sales materials, rushing the final screeners, finalising insane meeting schedules, and begging for a 10-minute meeting with that one buyer that never seems to have an open slot.
Many local and indeed regional (Asian) animation companies have probably heard of MIPCOM, but aren’t quite sure if it’s worth attending or what to expect from it if one does make that long trip to the famous city on the French Riveria. Perfectly understandable, since it’s rather expensive to begin with. A trip for one person (depending on where in Asia you’re from) could cost anywhere from US$2000-2500, including flight, accommodation and entry pass. Much more if you want to have a booth. And food in Cannes in general is by no means cheap, as one could imagine. Prices are even more ridiculous inside the market premises. It’s like they’ve got their own little country in there. All adds up to a rather pricey week in the south of France.
But if you’re in the TV content business, looking to work with global partners and reach out to the international market, and have never been to MIPCOM (or MIPTV in April), you need some proper soul-searching. Fact is if you’re serious about being an international content player, MIPCOM probably provides the best acid test as to where you are in the pecking order, and where you stand among hundreds of companies all gunning for the same spot on that broadcast belt. It’s also the ideal (if rather heartless) setting for one to get a much-needed update on the business realities facing producers around the world. Yes, lest we forget, it’s still a business, even for cartoons.
Few things an Asian animation studio (or any studio) might pick up upon its first time at the market:
1. A lot of shows feel exactly like the ‘hit show’ you’re developing, except they look better (or worse, but somehow still have bigger names attached).
2. There’s an insane amount of creative genius and animation talents around the world… and also a lot of crap.
3. EVERYONE looks for comedy. Are you a funny Asian?
4. Money talks. Most of the time. How much are you bringing to the table?
5. It’s a members’ club, and it take more then a thick skin and talent to break in.
6. People are looking to Asia for funding, yet it still has a stigma as an outpost for cheap animation services.
The above might be generalisations, but I think most of my peers would agree that they hold a fair amount of truth.
It’d be interesting to check out the temperature of the market this time – what’s the mood, what people are looking for, what’s hot and what’s trendy. Chances are, not a whole lot have changed from 12 month ago, even if people do say differently. Folks would still be looking for the next big hit (there really hasn’t been a bona fide one since Spongebob), wanting to see something different yet always going back to the tried and tested, and continually ranting about multi-platform, 360-degrees content (even though profits still seem to be allergic to such stuff). That’s part of the dysfunction and beauty and frustration and joy of the animation industry, love it or hate it.
I’ll be covering MIPCOM – hopefully a day-by-day account (depends on how much of me is left after being chewed and spit out by buyers daily) to give an insight into life at the market and observations (as usual from an Asian studio’s perspective). Hopefully it’ll give readers, especially those who only have a vague impression of the event and/or are thinking of attending for the first time, a glimpse into the mythic phenomenon that is MIPCOM.