CYPRUS: Around 250 children’s TV professionals and education experts descended on Cyprus for AGORA `98, the annual kids TV conference that ran from June 26 to 30.
Although the North American sector was represented by Discovery, Nickelodeon and the Children’s Television Workshop, emphasis lay on European co-production activity, with particularly strong representation from the Balkans, Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.
Throughout the four-day event, close to 20 kids projects were pitched to attendees.
Among these was a 10 x 26-minute kids natural history proposal from Marseille-based producer Les Films Du Soleil. The series, which has 40% of the US$700,000 dollar budget in place, will look at environmental degradation in the Mediterranean through the eyes of a seaman named Falco, who was a long-time associate of Jacques Cousteau.
Among other major proposals was a 13 x 25-minute, pan-European sitcom from German producer Thomas Friebe, called Kiosk Kasilas. The 2.3 million ECU series, which was close to being adapted as a soap for German kids network Kinderkanal, follows the adventures of a multiracial group of teenagers living in a Northern European town.
Paco Rodriguez from Spain’s PPM Multimedia, pitched the pilot of an animation series called Gerard Meets… Rodriguez, who plans to make the 13 x 5-minute series, claims that Cartoon Network, CTW, Hollywood Ventures, Kinderkanal and Canal J are interested in the venture.
Other projects included a 26 x 5-minute animation series called The Krokets from YLE in Finland, and a Hungo-Germanic production set in Scotland called The Mystery of Black Rose Castle (13 x 30 minutes). The latter project, presented by Europe 2000′s Juha Vakkuri, will be made by a team nominated for a Foreign Film Oscar in 1984.
U.K.-based, not-for-profit distributor TVE also presented an animation series; Digit and Download, developed with help from UNICEF, is slated to be made by A Film in Denmark. Egmont Imagination is interested.
AGORA’s executive director Michel Bongiovanni, who coordinated the pitching sessions, also pushed through projects from Israel, Albania, Belarus and the Czech Republic. In addition, he instigated discussions with East European territories seeking to provide production facilities and to engage in program exchange partnerships.
Bongiovanni stressed the importance of opening up the forum to as wide a group as possible. ‘Many developing markets need a toolbox if they are to understand the language of broadcasters in the western marketplace. AGORA is a chance for well-established experts to explain to them how co-production works.’