VIDEO. “Mars Express”, “Pat the dog”, “Grizzy”… The success story of Angoulême, the capital of comics turned into a bastion of animated cinema

The city of Charente is not only filled with life on the occasion of the comic festival, the 51st edition of which opens this Thursday. It is also recognized worldwide as a reference in cartoon production.

When David Beauvallet, responsible for the development of image crafts in Angoulême, takes us in his vehicle to explore the streets of the city, the list of animation gems seems endless: “Xilam who created Spatial errors is on your right, Superprod that signs pet the dog settled higher… This is also where Grizzy and the lemmingsone of the most watched animated series in the world on Netflix. A tour of the studios like in Hollywood. The weather is radically different, with just a few degrees on the thermometer in January, but the excitement of the place is certainly similar.

For the tourist passing through, it is impossible to realize the omnipresence of these companies in the old city of paper, better known as the capital of comics with its famous international festival, whose 2024 edition begins this Thursday, January 25 and celebrates its 50th edition. . anniversary this year.

About thirty animation companies

Nothing indicates the anchoring of these cartoon factories in the city. “There are no signs on the buildings to avoid attracting greed. Behind these addresses and facades hide expensive computers, cutting-edge computer servers and confidential projects.”

In total, 35 companies produce series and feature films here for television, cinema, streaming platforms or new media such as YouTube. Not everyone owns their premises, David Beauvallet has the keys. The Magélis structure that he represents, to be totally precise. The public organization was created in 1997, taking advantage of the city’s image around comics to expand its horizons towards special effects, virtual reality, video games and animation.

At the Superprod studio in Angoulême (franceinfo)

Magélis, financially supported by the city, the department and the region, is a little-known UFO in terms of economic influence. In this prefecture of 41,000 inhabitants, the sector employs the equivalent of 1,500 full-time workers. 300 more in a year. “And we hope for prosperous years 2025, 2026, 2027”says David Beauvallet enthusiastically. Angoulême has already established itself as the second bastion of animation in France. The Ellipse studio, working hard on the next Marsupilami, has just announced that it will expand further in Angoulême by dedicating a new center to the adaptation of webtoons.

Production aid and school subsidies

In addition to the production aid paid to the studios, several thousand square meters Workspace is now reserved for them in the city. To attract them to the west of France, 2 hours 11 minutes from Paris by TGV, Angoulême is renovating, building and rehabilitating with all its might. Over the last decade, the excess of content from streaming giants has accelerated the number of “made in Angoulême” productions. Magélis is able to find larger areas when the order book grows or to participate in maintaining activity when it temporarily weakens.

“Honestly, I didn’t know Angoulême before coming.” trust Tanguy Launay, 3D animator who began his career in video games. He works at Superprod and is working on a new series, heroic footballcoming soon to screens (his interview can be found in full in the video above). “Today it is the city that offers the most opportunities along with Paris. You can have a house instead of an apartment, you can move around more easily. The quality of the studies and projects means that we want to stay.”

Extract from the series.

There has been a migration of talents. It’s also not uncommon for spouses to work at competing studios a few blocks away and find themselves talking about work at night. “It’s true that sometimes it goes around in circles.” Alexandre Bretheau, former hand of the Marvel series, recognizes with a smile And if and founder of the Loops studio, specialized in 3D animation generated in real time, a cutting-edge innovation that Angoulême is also committed to. “When we wanted to leave Paris, we didn’t know where we were going, and once we arrived in Angoulême, an artistic spirit came over us. We recognize ourselves among the graphic designers and animators when we walk.”

From schools linked to studies

These new residents provide essential labor to the studios. There are also people trained on site in 15 higher education schools whose courses are adapted to the needs of companies. Producers and establishments work hand in hand. “The presence of the studios allows them to bring their collaborators and the best experts to the classrooms, offer study-work programs and internships to the 1,800 Angoumois students and, incidentally, jobs.” explains the director of the “L’Atelier” school, a reference in 2D animation and founded by Thomas Old-fashioned debt Disney. “Employability is very good: a third of our students stay in Angoulême at the end of their training, a third go to Paris and a third go mainly to foreign studios that hire after finishing school.”

The Magélis structure helps establishments with subsidies. One more action in “this virtuous circle that we imagine”, resumes David Beauvallet. The actors are intertwined. The EMCA, for example, belongs to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is located in an old castle owned by the department. “Every year, between three and five schools, studios or artist collectives choose to settle in Angoulême.” Magélis also had the idea of ​​bringing to light an incubator for students to support them in creating their own studio.

School "The workshop" specialized in 2D animation (franceinfo)

Angoumois production is recognized throughout the world. the animated movie Little Nicolás – What do we expect to be happy? It competed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2022. linda wants chicken received the Cristal for best feature film in 2023 at the prestigious Annecy animation festival. The song of the sea He was nominated for an Oscar in 2015. unicorn wars and The pianist was shot He appeared this year in the works shortlisted with a view to winning a statuette. AND mars express I might get a Caesar next month. To recite to no one but them. This influence benefits the city. Magélis estimates the turnover generated by animation for television and film at 40 million euros.

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