By opening a Los Angeles office, Link Entertainment has laid the foundation to build long-term relationships with U.S. producers.
Perhaps just as important, having a U.S. presence-and working in the same time zone-makes conducting business that much easier.
Link opened a U.S. office last November to sell the existing Link catalogue of classic British children’s characters, explore co-production possibilities and identify North American product that Link U.K. can sell on a worldwide basis.
Link’s higher profile comes at an opportune time when producers are seeking entertaining, educational and high-quality animation properties to syndicate to stations seeking to satisfy new mandates for children’s television.
‘I really admire what domestic broadcasters are doing with European animation. It really creates a fabulous opportunity for American kids to have a taste of European productions,’ says Jo Kavanagh, vice president, North America for Link Entertainment. ‘Some of our classic British characters have struck very responsive chords.’
Kavanagh has sold such programs as Christopher Crocodile and Spider to the Cartoon Network’s ‘The Small World,’ executed a video deal with United American Video for the film version of George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm, and has sold short films to cable network Encore.
Another hot property is the award-winning animated special The Forgotten Toys. Sony Wonder has acquired the video rights. Link is developing The Forgotten Toys as a series, and is actively looking for pre-sell money to go into production.
By being based in America, Kavanagh believes she has gained a better understanding and appreciation of the faster-paced American way of doing business, and of American culture and language in general. That insight has given her a better idea of the needs and problems that U.S. program suppliers face, knowledge that would be difficult to learn if she was a continent away. ‘Trying to find children’s programming that suits both markets can be difficult because of differences in language and culture, especially in the educational side,’ she says.
Link was well regarded in the industry prior to coming to the U.S., and that reputation has been enhanced simply by having a local presence. ‘The U.K. time zone is just so detrimental to business,’ says Kavanagh. ‘[You're] getting people at the end of your day when they are just starting. They’re all fired up and you’re winding down for the evening. It’s just so much better [here]; your psyche is completely in tune with people.’
Kavanagh says that Link sees its U.S. expansion as vital to its growth as a program distributor and producer. ‘We want to build on our already established relationships so that Link U.S. is a mirror image of Link in the U.K.’