Leading global animation companies explore production opportunities with publishers
During Sharjah Animation Conference
Sharjah, May 07, 2023
The inaugural Sharjah Animation Conference (SAC), orchestrated by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) at the Expo Centre Sharjah, has proven to be an unprecedented platform for visionary Arab and foreign publishers to congregate with the world’s most preeminent animation production companies. Within this seminal space, publishers were granted a rare opportunity to showcase the imaginative ideas and rich content of their authors and illustrators whilst gleaning from the prodigious expertise of illustrious industry leaders. The SAC further facilitated the forging of invaluable partnerships, whereby the animation industry can be propelled to new heights through harmonious cooperation.
Opening doors and forging partnerships between creative industries
Amidst the bustle and excitement of the three-day event, a specially curated segment sought to bridge the divide between visionary regional and global animation producers, enterprising publishers of both established and nascent ilk, as well as forward-thinking industry newcomers and startups. This unique platform provided an unparalleled opportunity to discuss the intricacies of buying and selling book rights, with an emphasis on their potential for adaptation into the realm of cinematic or televisual entertainment. The discussions also featured a thoughtful exploration of the obstacles that currently hinder the smooth execution of such endeavours, with the aim of forging a more seamless path forward for all involved.
Adapting Arabic texts into animated films can be a challenge, but a worthy one
Oli Hyatt, the founder and MD of the BAFTA-winning production house Blue Zoo, exclaimed: “I am delighted to participate in SAC, which brought together animation producers and publishers from all over the world to learn about the standards and criteria needed in literary works like a strong storyline, unique concept, marketable characters, and production feasibility, to be able to adapt it to a screen.”
Recapping on the fruitful meetings that took place this week, Hyatt said: “During a meeting with Arab publishers, we focused on how to adapt and prepare Arabic content for animation film production that appeals to diverse mentalities and cultures. The aim was not to alter the content to appease a specific group but to ensure compatibility and harmony with other differing ideas. This underscores the significance of the conference, which presents an opportunity to meet with publishers, understand their visions and ideas, and interpret them accurately.”
Creating a window into new markets through authentic ideas and stories
Mounes Al-Hattab, Founder and Director of Alif Baa Taa Publishing, was elated with what was able to be achieved at SAC, saying: “My meetings with several European animation film production companies enabled me to understand the criteria and standards that increase the likelihood of producers buying book rights and adapting them into films, including audience base, memorable characters, strong narrative, visual appeal, and marketing potential.”
Commenting on what stood out to him during these meetings Al-Hattab said: “As an Arab publisher, I learned new ideas that would help if there are opportunities to adapt Arabic literature to animation films and that they require significant funding. Therefore, we must fund this industry, think differently, search for high-standard Arabic stories and adapt them into animated films.”
Familiarity with Arabic content develops the animation industry as a whole
Italian Cinematographer and Director, Andrea Esposito explained the importance of events such as SAC saying: “The conference has provided a unique opportunity for foreign producers to understand what people in the Middle East like, which paves the way for European and American producers to explore Arabic content published and attempt to adapt them into animation films. I have come across a collection of high-quality Arabic books that can be adapted into animated films, contributing to these companies’ visual content development.”
In an era where art and technology collide, the Sharjah Animation Conference has been a vital platform for creative visionaries to foster a productive dialogue, particularly between Arab publishers and the world’s largest animation production companies. The Italian Director conveyed the importance of such a forum, relaying how it allowed him to appreciate the technical demands of the publishing industry, including the procurement of rights, the intricacies of production, and the complexities of legal and financial matters, all of which will further catalyse the flourishing of the animation sector in the Arab region.
A massive step towards further development of the children’s book market
Mahmoud Abdel Nabi, General Manager of ABD Publications, praised the efforts of the conference and organisers saying: “The meeting between Arab publishers and the world’s 13 largest animation production companies is an important step by SBA that will contribute to the advancement of the children’s and young adult book publishing market, and advance its realities, encouraging it to enter the world of animation and introduce the world to the works of Arab publishers in this field.”
Concluding his remarks the General Manager stated: “This meeting provided Arab publishers with an incredible opportunity to explore new markets. It also highlighted the key factors that attract producers to publishers, such as their reputation and track record in producing high-quality books, good relationships with authors, flexibility in dealing with producers, understanding the basics of the animation industry, and good management of rights and attention to financial and legal details.”