The Asia TV Forum officially kicked-off its market today and boy did we get to hear about some great deals already! Probably the biggest and the earliest one of them all was Cartoon Network cementing its ongoing relationship with Xilam Animation by snapping up season 5 of one of its hottest properties, the slapstick animation, Oggy and the Cockroaches.
TheGraphicSlate.com sat down with Cartoon Network’s Mark Eyers and Xilam’s Marc du Pontavice to better understand how did this association commence in the first place and more importantly what’s keeping it going strong for the past 5 years.
“I believe it was back in 2010 that Cartoon Network’s acquisition team began approaching Xilam to look at associating together for Oggy and the Cockroaches,” Eyers recollected.
The show has managed to capture its audiences across continents and was first aired in 1998. The series has successfully completed 4 Seasons till date and entertained a million kids globally. With this deal, there will be a fifth season as well, which is slated for a 2017 premiere. But what’s most interesting is the fact that Oggy and the Cockroaches Season 5 (78×7’) will be also available in Ultra HD.
This acquisition follows the co-production agreement between Cartoon Network and Xilam for 2012’s Season 4, which is currently airing exclusively on the network.
“APAC is becoming an important supporting partner for us, with not just an audience but also with funding. Thus, for Season 5 nearly 15-20 episodes of the 78 will be having an Asian flavour, since we want Asia to feel its their product as well,” revealed Pontavice.
He further added that the show’s director Oliver Jean-Marie even flew down to India to spend a week to understand the culture and tastes and do justice to the characters’ trip here in the series.
On the question of how important is India for ‘Oggy’ as an IP, Pontavice emphasised, “India is the market that first started it all for Oggy in Asia. And ever since it started in 2007-08 there has been no looking back. Cartoon Network saw its potential and took it to the rest of Asia.”
Xilam is known for its slapstick, chase cartoon humour, but in the past couple of years the studio has taken a decision to explore more genres and stories. “We are now expanding into the pre-school category, and are also doing a live action wildlife documentary for kids apart from working on live action and animation hybrids,” he further informed.
As a culture, Xilam also allows its experienced and talented development team to continue developing their own ideas on the sidelines, when they are not working on client projects. “Its very important for creativity to keep flowing, it should never be restricted. And this culture has also helped us in developing the talent of tomorrow for the studio.” Xilam’s founder and CEO added.
On the question of how is Cartoon Network positioning Oggy differently in India, since a competing channel also holds rights to the earlier seasons, Eyers said, “We are the home of fresh comedy, and with both season 4 and 5, Cartoon Network worked closely with Xilam to bring fresher and newer episodes of Oggy to APAC. We are best positioned to have the freshest, funniest comedy there is. Having competitors in the category is only good for the genre and we will continue to be the premium home of new content in this region.”
On how Cartoon Network is continuing to work with various animation studios globally, he added, “One of the key things that we have done is, believing in diversity. We don’t look at Asia as a soup, its a well dressed Salad that offers different flavours. We have worked with studios like Animasia from Malaysia for Roll No. 21 and Xilam from Europe for Oggy; at the end, we are always looking for the newest and freshest content providers. We have worked with people from across continents and will continue to do so. We are creating opportunities for animation studios from Mumbai to Manila and Seoul to Sydney and will always continue our never ending search for great comedy and stories.”
Finally sharing his thoughts on how is the animation industry in Europe different from Asia, and what can be done to improve things here, Xilam’s founder said, “The European animation industry has been fortunate, as there has always been strong support from the government. Until recently US and Japan were the largest content providers, thus our government helped the industry to structure things and become more independent. Although its been a long term plan (20 years in making) it has paid off. I guess the local governments need to be a little more proactive and sow the seeds for the industry now to reap the benefits at a later stage.”
These are some wise words coming from folks who have taken the story of a blue cat chasing three crazy cockroaches to over 150 countries and counting… Artists, Producers and Creators bring out your note pads and make some important notes!