Wallimage presents Alice

  • 15.12.2019

Initiated in September 2019, ALICE works for a reinforced cooperation of the sector on the European level supporting the development of a competitive and job-creating European animation.

Over the next three years, the project partners will regularly bring together companies and industrialists from their respective territories: Wallonia in Belgium, Catalonia in Spain, the Hauts-de-France region, Puglia in Italy, the Rzeszow region in Poland, and the Slovak Republic. These meetings will contribute to defining actions that promote interregional collaborations and the joint development of local animation industries. 

This first Walloon session gathered around Wallimage the producers Belvision and Umedia, the studios Digital Graphics, Dreamwall, Waooh ! and Zest Animation, the post-production companies Dame Blanche and Mikros Image, the filming offices Wallimage Tournage, Le Pôle Image de Liège (representing audiovisual service providers), and an observer from the Centre du Cinéma de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. By making an initial diagnosis of the local animation market, participants began to explore possible avenues for improvement around various key issues.  Training to facilitate access to employment, and the attractiveness of the sector to retain the workforce were central to the discussions.

In a competitive and constantly evolving sector, the employability of young people has been identified as a major issue, which the generalist education of the school cannot address alone.  The actors of the Walloon animation sector agree on the priority to be given to the development of training adapted to the realities of the industry. Designed specifically to facilitate access to the job market, with the support of the public authorities, these programs would ideally be accompanied by the extension of the duration of student internships and the creation of training grants.

The attractiveness of Walloon animation is the other major challenge on which the discussions focused. The region must be able to retain its skilled workforce by offering employment conditions that match the quality of its talent. The establishment of programs of excellence is one of the avenues mentioned during the session: selective training or exchanges of recognized specialists between European studios would stimulate individual careers and the general level of qualification, benefiting the entire profession.  

At the heart of the issue of stabilizing talent, the question of the quality of available projects fueled the discussions. The professionals insisted on the importance for Wallonia to be able to initiate ambitious projects locally, as well as majority co-productions. For a region with a strong know-how and a good reputation in animation, one of the possible ways would be to encourage specialization in its fields of expertise, which are animation, story boarding, modeling, rigging, texturing, cleaning, lay-out, and screenwriting.  To give itself the means to achieve its new ambitions, the region will have to create a Walloon development fund and an association of animation professionals.

In a spirit of collaboration, exchange and harmonization of practices, the Walloon partners will be inspired by what exists in their neighboring countries, in a broader perspective of pan-European co-development. In a very concrete way, as far as qualification and continuous training are concerned, a list of tasks to be carried out in the next few months was drawn up in session. The participants propose to use the existing nomenclature in France, based on the ” Collective agreement for the production of animated films “The purpose of this study is to identify and quantify the positions in shortage in the animation professions, and also plan to list the training courses already recognized and registered in the National Register of Professional Certification. In particular, they wish to work on the co-creation of a specific nomenclature for animation and special effects with the Puglia Region, also a partner of ALICE. A collaboration plan in this area has already been initiated, and the next working group ” Training ” organized in Puglia in the first half of 2020 will be an opportunity to move forward on this topic. The idea is that each of the ALICE partners can reflect on the establishment of a grid, with the ambition of leading to a European nomenclature, benefiting from a European certification in the framework of the qualifications for lifelong learning (EQF).

This first successful meeting sets the stage for the local meetings that the other five ALICE partners will hold in January. It will be interesting to see how these initial findings guide further discussion, and how regional perspectives echo each other. In any case, this Walloon meeting marks the beginning of a paradigm shift, in which discussions ” animated ” give way to joint action. It is, in that, a first victory for ALICE, of which one awaits with ardour the next appointments.