Mapping out the Animation Industry in the Czech Republic Has Shown the Great Potential of Czech Animation, but also Points to its Weaknesses

As a result of a survey lasting over one year, the “Mapping out the Animation Industry in the Czech Republic” report is now being published, and sums up the outcome of a detailed questionnaire survey carried out among dozens of animation studios, school representatives, and  individual independent authors. The study performed in cooperation with the Creative Europe – MEDIA office is the first complex description of the state of the animation industry in the Czech Republic since 1990.

On Monday, March 20th, a public presentation of the main outputs took place, including an expert debate and press conference. About seventy people active in the field took part (studio representatives, freelancers and animation students), involving representatives of the Czech Ministry of Culture; Czech Television; the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague; the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague; the Film Academy of Miroslav Ondříček in Písek; the Czech Film Center, and other institutions and journalists.

The survey has revealed that animation is a growing industry both in the Czech Republic and abroad. This is reflected in the demand for animated films and series, which has been increasing globally in recent years. In the Czech Republic, animated films are very popular, as confirmed by box office figures. Nearly three million people visited the cinema to watch family animated films and spent roughly four hundred million CZK on tickets. Therefore, it necessary to address the low portion of domestic production, as it is clear that the selection of local films is still insufficient. This is clearly a case of unused potential.

It is becoming more and more apparent that animation is a field with the significant potential to create job opportunities, especially for young people; moreover, it is a sector with high added value. Producers and animation studios plan to implement a number of new projects, as well as expand their creative teams. The survey has predicted that up to 400 new job positions will be generated by new projects. Therefore, it is no wonder that there is real interest on the part of studios and producers in finding new artists and specialists for new projects. These individuals will be expected to provide not only their talent, but also a high standard of craftsmanship and team spirit. Among the most pressing problems worrying producers and animation studios is the shortage of high-quality authors with the professional skills to meet international standards. Not only graduates, but many professionals lack experience with larger-scale projects that result from the cooperation of different specialised teams. Increasing authors’ professional skills and experience is an essential prerequisite for the overall improvement of the animation industry’s infrastructure, as well as the quality of individual projects.

Another major issue is the general underfunding of the field and the particular projects in it. The market is usually governed by demand  that stems from the investment of public funds. These funds are often the initial impulse to produce a film or series. Therefore, they should serve as an opportunity to raise private sources both domestic and (primarily) international.

The production of series is traditionally associated with the role of Czech Television; however, this organization produces most series internally, and does not participate in the development of new original works in collaboration with producers.

This has a negative impact in terms of the small volume and low quality of production, the failure to gain funds from abroad, and also the failure to gain support for the distribution of series that local creators would otherwise take part in. This current situation is reflected in the absence of Czech producers and studios in the MEDIA programme’s open calls focusing on the production of TV series, as well as the low share  of foreign funding in production.

The State Cinematography Fund supports the development and production of animated feature or short films both with incentives and subsidies. The main objective of the incentives is to attract foreign producers to create a portion of their films in the Czech Republic. In this respect, however, Czech animation is reaching its limits in terms of capacity in the area of human resources and experience with securing the production of large-scale projects. The fund also allocates support through subsidies, and thus appears to be low compared to traditional films with actors in terms of the financial demands of animated production. It also seems to lack the significant impulse to realise ambitious projects that aim to succeed on the international market.

The Association of Czech Animation will continue to present the study outcomes as well as debates on possible improvements to the current situation on the floor of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, during the industry-related portions of the Zlín and Anifilm animation film festivals, and in cooperation with individual schools of animation.

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