For most of us, 2020 has been one of the weirdest and most confusing years since we were born. A year in which the entire audiovisual industry was shaken to its foundations, like most other artistic and economic fields. In the midst of this deluge, Wallimage tried to support the Walloon producers, technicians and service providers as best as possible. Of course, there were fewer applications submitted at our various sessions, but the prospects developed by these projects for the regional audiovisual sector are nevertheless exciting.
For this final session of 2020, the Board of Directors, meeting for the first time without Yves Vander Cruysen who tragically passed away last month, decided to co-finance seven initiatives. Unsurprisingly, it is once again animation that dominates the debates with three classic projects and one nugget that is clearly off the beaten track.
Momolu is a sweet panda who has a talent for stumbling into unexpected situations. His friends try to solve their daily problems through creative thinking and collaboration. An animated series that will have 78 episodes of 7 minutes in 2d, Momolu and friends is presented to us by Digital Graphics that, in the last few months, has managed to capture our support twice.
Alleur’s company offers us a four-way partnership with Germany as usual, but also with Canada and Finland, more precisely the creators of Angry Birds! The strong point of the project is to allow the development of 2D skills not yet deployed internally. As a result, the production of this series represents a real opportunity to link training (in partnership with Technifutur) and quick job offers on the long term (1 year) for young 2D artists. 99 % of the Belgian expenditure is Walloon. This percentage is all the more remarkable given that 7330 man-days will be required to complete this project. Thirteen heads of posts will be hired, for a total of 46 Walloon employees.
Animation series for 6-12 years, Tobie Lolness will be adapted in an unusual format for animation, namely thirteen episodes of 52 minutes. The very captivating series is based on an epic story published by Gallimard Jeunesse in 2006. It has won 28 readers’ prizes (!) and has sold nearly 500,000 copies in France and one million worldwide. It has also been translated into over 30 languages. We will follow Tobie and his family who live in an oak tree, a hive of life. Its inhabitants measure a few millimeters, but live in perfect harmony with their habitat. Tobie’s father, a great scientist, refuses to reveal his latest scientific discovery, because it could upset the fragile balance of their environment, despite some greedy members of the Great Council… This bravado will lead Tobie’s family into decay. Imprisoned, the young hero will find himself propelled alone in terrible adventures.
Thanks to Umedia , which locates part of the production in Wallonia, 950 000 euros will be spent at Waooh! for 700 sets, which represents 3,350 man-days (i.e. 13 full-time equivalents for 14 months). The studio will be busy on this project for 260 days.
Waooh! will also work on Tortel, an animation series of 22X26 minutes, co-produced by Belga which accompanies the Germans of Caligari for a third consecutive series after Coconut (co-financed by Wallimage) and Muscleteers for which we have not been asked. 99.34% of the Belgian expenses will be Walloon with, in addition to 8 months of storyboarding at Waooh !, the elaboration of the design of the characters and the background in a Walloon studio, that is to say minimum 3 or 4 months of work. The sound design, the mix and the mastering will also be Walloon, as the music entrusted to the now unavoidable Montois, Michel Duprez, under the leadership of Rabada.
Everyone knows animation series, but experiences that mix animation and virtual reality in a gaming package are much more unexpected. However, the Antwerp-based Stacka presented us with The Werewolf Experience, a nine-minute adventure in which you play (yes, literally play!) a werewolf. To end your reign of terror, you must hunt the sacred white deer, which is believed to cure all diseases. But….
This innovative production, 100 % Belgian, is already supported by the VAF. It will nevertheless be partly manufactured in Wallonia where Stacka will open a studio specialized in VR. Beyond this excellent news, we can also announce that the spatialization of the sound (capital here) will be developed at Cosounders at the Pôle Image of Liege.
The goal of this project is to seduce festivals such as Sundance, Venice or SXSW. But, as the design does not rely on realism, there is a real economic potential of long tail. This makes it an ideal product for distribution in VR arcades or VR platforms such as Inception VR or Steam VR. The future? We’ll be following this closely.
Beyond the omnipresent animation, this last session of 2020 will also have allowed us to add to our line-up a documentary, a series and a feature film. All of them are highly anticipated projects in their respective niches.
Wallonie Sauvage : Invasions is the continuation of Wallonie Sauvage, which we supported last year and which had a very nice little career : RTL recently acquired it to make a prime time program followed by 320 000 viewers. Strong ! Robert Henno and Jean-Christophe Grignard, the two directors who concocted and produced this first issue, are this time associated with Taka (Hugo Deghilage) who takes care of the administrative production of the project and thus participates in the professionalization of the structure. It was one of our requests to continue the adventure alongside these talented pioneers of wildlife film. On the manufacturing side, we will find exactly the same team at the same posts for an exploration of invasive species considered as important threats of the local native fauna and flora and which can influence the ecosystems and the biodiversity. Going beyond the classical framework of our interventions, Wallonie Sauvage allows us to support a new structure, 100 % Walloon, and to help it to become professional. A mission like we like them.
Very proud of the great first season ofUFO which will be broadcast on Canal Plus from January 11th (but which we already had the great chance to watch), Be Films extends its partnership with the French of Montebello and has proposed a second season whose production structure is modelled on the first. 48 days of shooting in Wallonia, big expenses in technicians and actors, renting (at TSF) and more than 400 000 euros of expenses at Benuts magicians for the realization of special effects. This offbeat science fiction series that plunges us into the late 70s with all the aesthetic delirium that characterizes those years is still directed by Antony Cordier (Happy Few) for twelve new episodes of about 35 minutes. An absolute delight.
All these projects are very exciting, but the only feature film of the session that the Board decided to co-finance will clearly be one of the flagships of Wallimage in the coming years : Tori and Lokita is the new film by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, produced by les Films du Fleuve obviously. We won’t say anything about the wonderful scenario they are going to put in images, except that it is very effective and, unfortunately, of a tragic topicality. The whole team loved it. But this is obviously not the main thing for an economic fund. For us, the main thing is that the brothers will shoot again for ten weeks in the Liège region with a team of 38 people. The objective is of course to renew with an international success, carried by a participation (we cross our fingers) in the Cannes Film Festival 2022. Most of the cast will be made up of little-known actors, or even beginners, and we are looking forward to meeting these new talents guided by directors who have offered us exceptional discoveries throughout their careers, such as Emilie Dequenne, Jérémie Renier, Déborah François or Thomas Doret, to name just a few of the very young actors revealed by the brothers and who continue to appear regularly on the screen.
The year 2020 thus ends for Wallimage on an exciting session that will have allowed us to invest nearly 1.3 million euros on exciting projects that correspond in every way to our different missions and the standards to which we aspire. Seven opportunities to support and develop entire sectors of our Walloon industry, which needs it more than ever.
(opening photo Christine Plenus/Les films du fleuve)