Following two years of rapid growth, the holding company for Budapest’s Varga Studio and London’s VARGA tvc is restructuring and changing its name from Eurotoon to Varga Holdings. The restructuring centers around the appointments of Varga Studio co-founder Andras Erkel as CEO, and of Jan Sawkins, formerly joint managing director of TEAM plc and owner of a consulting firm, as group managing director.
’1998 was a very significant year for Varga in that it has consolidated its position internally, reorganized and restructured, and thought long and hard about its business strategy to cope with the growth in its business and its profile,’ says Sawkins. This growth has resulted in the number of hours of animation produced annually by the two Varga studios increasing from three in 1996 to nine in 1998, with 13 hours commissioned for the coming year. Sawkins adds that Varga’s 1998 revenue was double that for 1997, and she expects to see it double again for 1999.
The company’s original studio in Budapest is best known for its animation work on the HIT Entertainment/Grand Slamm Children’s Films co-production Kipper and an award-winning half-hour Animaniacs special. It has also recently been commissioned to animate HIT’s Percy the Park Keeper series. Sawkins adds that the studio ‘has just produced a pilot and has been commissioned to do an additional four episodes for the first Warner Bros. prime-time animated sitcom called Baby Blues,’ slated for broadcast later this year.
VARGA tvc, established in 1997, recently completed its first project, a TV special co-produced with Miramax and ZDF called Oi! Get Off Our Train. The special was based on the John Burningham book of the same name, and aired on the BBC at Christmas. The studio is now working on a direct-to-video adaptation of Golden Books’ The Poky Little Puppy, slated to be delivered in April, as well as a new Grand Slamm/Tiger Aspect co-production called Bosom Pals.
Sawkins attributes Varga’s recent growth to its ability to produce a wide variety of animation styles, from stop-motion to CGI, and its diversification into service work, co-productions and commercials. She says she will continue the focus on growth in the coming years, with an eye on moving towards more production, marketing and rights ownership. To this end, Varga established a marketing department last November, headed by Szusza Kirsch, and is currently developing its first independent production, to be
called Preston Pig.