Report – Keynote Opening Address: A Plan For European Animation

Posted on: Thursday 16 November 2017 12:39pm by Catherine Trewavas

Tom Van Waveren shared the vision for European animation, with emphasis on the impact of Brexit and the importance of continued collaboration.


  • Continued collaboration is key
  • Communication is extremely important
  • We need to retain and train talent more successfully
  • Finance remains crucial and creative financial solutions can benefit everyone


Tom Van Waveren has been working in animation for over 20 years, and said he “has loved every day”. He is currently CEO and Creative Director of CAKE Entertainment, based in London, and the company distributes, develops and produces series, with the aim of optimising commercial success with partners. CAKE Entertainment works with studios and companies all around the world. He has also been instrumental in the founding of Animation in Europe, where he is Vice Chair and working to improve support for the European animation industry.

Tom said that “animation is booming at the moment” but suggested that things could become turbulent and the future is relatively unknown. He highlighted the importance of uniting the European industry through sharing information and best practices.

In October 2016, Animation in Europe was officially founded. This serendipitously coincided with discussions with Creative Europe regarding the future of animation in their programme. Conversations revealed that animation is particularly suited to a digital world and travels well.

These discussions sparked a working partnership and the gathering together of over 100 people in Brussels, discussing the changing industry landscape. On two occasions, a variety of people including producers, distributors, educators, students, lobbyers and broadcasters met to analyse the European animation industry and identified strengths and weaknesses. Data acquired was gathered together and the ‘European Animation Plan’ document outlining thoughts was presented at Cartoon Forum on 12 September 2017. This identified challenges faced across Europe in an attempt to kick-start positive change. Areas identified included: marketing, training and finance.

In summary, the following points suggest how the European industry could work together through Animation in Europe to become smarter:

  • Become better at communicating with fans and scheduling earlier release date announcements to build project interest. (This frequently proves to be successful with feature films.)
  • Taking inspiration from the likes of Disney by getting better at distribution through supporting the creation of dubs.  This allows access to key markets from day one.
  • Nurturing talent and supporting training for new entrants to the industry. Looking at opportunities for employing key talent for a slate of projects rather than one.
  • Looking at ways of making financing easier and helping studios to work together.  Maintaining conversations with training organisations and building relationships between educators and the industry.
  • Finding methods for cash flowing projects and bringing in minimum guarantees.

The overall aim is to find solutions, and there will be a meeting between European partnerships at the end of January 2018.

Tom concluded by encouraging people and companies to come on board, saying: “We need to look at what we all do and learn from each other.”

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Catherine Trewavas

About the author

Catherine Trewavas

BBC Children's Acquisitions & Independent Animation, Production Management Assistant

Catherine is the Production Management Assistant for BBC Children's Acquisitions and Independent Animation – the team responsible for programmes including ‘Hey Duggee’, ‘Clangers’ and ‘Scream Street’. In addition to her day job, Catherine has a keen interest in journalism and writes articles for BBC newspaper Ariel. Catherine has previously worked… Read more