Over the past few years, small animation houses in Europe have been watching larger prodcos eat up their piece of the pie, noticed in the recent closure of Spain’s PPM Multimedia. The company has been around since 1990, enjoying considerable success in that time with series like Koki, Snailympics and Capelito. Still, for PPM founder Francisco Rodriguez, it was getting increasingly difficult to get involved in projects without more considerable financial backing.
‘In Europe, there are much bigger companies involved in animation. The worldwide market has moved towards a kind of gigantism in the last two years,’ Rodriguez explains, citing companies like BKN and Vivendi as ‘big companies that also have interests with broadcasters’ that are getting more involved in the animation market. Another reason Rodriguez got out was because Spain’s Filmax offered him a job, providing that larger, more secure infrastructure he’s referring to, facilitating a ‘more relaxed life and atmosphere. I have become a father, and I have another baby on the way, so I would prefer to bring fewer problems home.’
‘I’m still finishing co-productions in the pipeline,’ Rodriguez says, referring to PPM’s Snailympics and Capelito. ‘But once that is done. . . I mean the company is really on standby now as it is, and I will bring those properties over to Filmax for distribution.’
Filmax has been around for 50 years. An old company in the Spanish market, it has mostly been involved in video distribution in Spain, but has been getting more involved in production. Four years ago, Filmax launched a brand called Fantastic Factory, to produce fictional feature films (most recently closing a deal with Miramax for a project called Darkness). As this bent towards production grew, the company created an animation division (in the last year) through its studio Bren Entertainment.
Rodriguez will head the division, taking charge of international sales and handling all co-production deals. There are two series being developed for production: Goomer, a 26 x half-hour 2-D animated series for teens and adults; and a project based on a series of books by Elvira Lindo, one of Spain’s leading children’s authors. Her books, based around a character called Manolito Four Eyes, have sold over a million copies in Spain and have been distributed in France, Italy, Latin America and Denmark. Filmax produced a feature film based on the property last year, and Rodriguez is developing the concept for an animated series.