'Animation Business: Co-Production Masterclass' | Robin Lyons, Helen Howells, Huw Walters

We were visited by three members of the animation production industry to host a co-production masterclass designed to explore the fusion of creativity and commerce which is at the heart of any successful animated show. The three people have unrivalled experience of animation co-production: Robin Lyons, MD of Calon, shared his experiences of being a producer and executive producer of animated tv series and films with partners around the world from Australia to Vancouver. Helen Howells, MD of Hoho Entertainment, has over twenty years experience of licensing and merchandising including managing multi-million pound brands such as Fifi and the Flowertots. And, finally, Huw Walters is a Director of Industry Media, a specialist consultancy offering legal and business affairs advice to independent producers whose experience includes deal making with broadcasters and other financiers in the UK and beyond. First and foremost, we were told to always put any work that we do with others in writing. This eliminates a lot of risk further down the line when collaborating. Someone asked a question about the rights holder and their role in production should they present an idea of their own to a company; according to Robin, the rights holder of the original idea can sometimes have a large role if they're bringing with them a design skillset, however if all they are really bringing is the idea then it is not uncommon to outsource other roles for a project to a team who have specialisms in each skill. According to Robin, the key to collaborative projects is to "find people who have the same ideas as you, because you'll almost never be able to retain creative control." Creative producers should always be in harmony - you have to go in to a project knowing what you're willing to compromise on before making deals. Negotiating Tips: - Be prepared. - Research your partner. - Work out what your bottom line is - what are the deal breakers? - Find a negotiating style. - Document your discussion. - Set the right tone - be prepared to justify your position. Negotiating is okay. Helen told us that the whole landscape for children's TV is changing. Broadcasting partners are still very important, although the funding from them is constantly decreasing. Things like Netflix and Amazon are now competing with broadcasters, so it's a great time to try and get things off the ground in the production industry. This isn't the case for the merchandising world however, who still only tend to recognise broadcasters as credible.

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