Manimation – Going Global: Building Your Co-Pro Partners

Posted on: Friday 22 November 2013 6:26pm by Samuel Hutchinson

Moderator: Robin Lyons.

Speakers: Alison Stewart (CBeebies), Jules Coke (Squint Opera) and Mike Robinson (Mike Robinson Consultancy/Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick).


Okay, it wasn’t that bad. But this panel did provide the most engaging debate and the most healthy disagreement of the day. After a few sessions that had flirted with the topic of Co-Productions, it was time to get to the core of the issue. We did so here in the company of a an entertaining panel and an up-for-it audience.

And, as if I haven’t sold this session enough, it was also quite comical! Speaking for the 3rd time today, Robin was plagued by a moment of forgetfulness and, in his hesitation, he introduced one of his speakers as “Mike Robinson from… hundreds of years ago!”

Alison gave a fantastic insight into the CBeebies commissioning process, where they either deal with straight commissions or with acquisitions – although they never (or very rarely!) buy anything “off-the-shelf” or finished, but rather prefer to develop ideas brought to them. Alison said that co-productions come with various complications associated with the variety of possible broadest partners who each have their needs and views, but consensus -=seeking was the better way forward – avoiding a fight.  She also said that the easiest projects to deal with are when producers have spent a long time on them and really have the show’s DNA down.

Mike Robinson followed up with a reminder to be honest with your co-producer and, once again, to think of what you’re prepared to lose. He and Robin spoke very positively about co-production, and what it could bring to a project, rather than subtract from it..

The healthy disagreement emerged at Jules’ REVELATION that he resisted co-production and preferred to make everything within his own company in the UK – the main reason being to maintain creative control. By their own admission, Mike and Robin rather ganged up on him as the debate “raged” on between the need to pull together funding partners from broadcasting and distribution, and the desire to retain control “in-house” by using investor funding.  Jules received some unexpected back-up from some members of the audience.

It was a very lively and spirited discussion on the topic that dominated the day – and pointed towards the next in the Manimation Series – “New Players, New Perspectives (DEC 12th).  Is the traditional model dead, and can the alternatives replace it – or do they rather enhance it?

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Samuel Hutchinson

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Samuel Hutchinson

BBC, Script Reader

Upon graduating from Bournemouth University's Scriptwriting degree in 2012, Sam started working as a Script Reader for BBC Continuing Drama. He has since also become Development Executive for independent film company, Silver Leaf Pictures, and is currently developing further feature film projects with We Move Pictures, who will be taking… Read more