TV Kids Summer Festival Spotlights Co-Pro Techniques


Serious Kids’ Genevieve Dexter, DeAPlaneta Entertainment’s Carlos Biern, Dandelooo’s Emmanuèle Pétry and The Co-Production Company’s Doug Schwalbe offered up their perspectives on co-production practices at the TV Kids Summer Festival.

Moderated by TV Kids’ Anna Carugati, the session, which you can watch here, featured Dexter, founder and CEO of Serious Kids; Biern, director of content and distribution for kids and family at DeAPlaneta Entertainment; Pétry, producer and head of distribution at Dandelooo; and Schwalbe, founder of The Co-Production Company.

Co-production formulas are evolving, Pétry said, recalling her early career at Nelvana, working on French-Canadian co-pros. “I haven’t done any co-productions with Canada for years. We’re focusing on European co-productions because it helps us trigger European money from Creative [Europe] MEDIA.” The Upside Down River, for example, is a France-Portugal-Belgium collaboration. “We are getting offers from Latin America and Brazil to co-produce. And sometimes, the IPs are lovely, but it’s too complicated to finance outside of the European model. In this difficult time, you focus on what you know best: your own broadcasters and your nearby neighbors.”

Dexter, speaking on the U.K. market, noted that post-Brexit, a nonrefundable grant is available, and the UK Global Screen Fund is investing in co-pros. “India has just got a huge lift in its tax credit, and Italy has been the biggest entrant in Europe in recent years,” she added. “We’ve done lots of co-productions between the U.K. and Italy, and that seems to work quite well. U.K.-France is still difficult because of the way the CNC is rigged to favor producing everything in France.”

DeAPlaneta has animation projects in the U.K., Canada, Spain, Italy, South Korea and China, Biern said. “It’s a question of maximizing the incentives. We are right now in a time where getting together and co-productions make more sense than ever. We are not only putting together budgets that make sense and are reasonable for our traditional investors, but we are also in a time when technology and talent are the keys. The key is finding great communication skills for creating global content.”

Discussing the creative benefits of co-pros, Dexter said: “When you co-produce, it market tests your IP. People tend to look at international co-productions and then look at the budget and say, Oh, I would rather do it all at home. That’s the instinct, to say, We’ll do it by ourselves. And then we can just keep it all at home. We’ll bring the budget down. And that’s often the journey. You go for co-production, and you go and talk to all the international partners. You can’t make the finance work. And then the conclusion is, well, let’s just make it for less at home with the money that we have. But the problem with that is that then it becomes very localized. And it doesn’t go through that kind of market testing with the opinions of other people in other countries as to whether it creatively passes the test.”

“Any show needs to be driven by only one boss,” Schwalbe said.

“Communication is the key, and if we get together from the beginning on the bible or the final look of the characters, and specifically the tone and the narrative that we’re going to use, and we are together from the beginning, there shouldn’t be any issues,” Biern said.