‘La Casa Animada’: Animated movies made in Canarias for the rest of the world.
‘La Casa Animada’ started with its activities in the animated movies sector in 2006. Their main goal is to become one of Europe’s most important animation studies and schools. They also want to export some talented producers from the Islands to other parts of the world. This business plan started after the business creation course that took place at the industrial organization school (Escuela de Organización Industrial, EOI), that is a dependent institution from the Islands Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, part of the ‘Sociedad de Desarrollo Económico del Ayuntamiento de Santa Cruz’.
The startup had different stages: During the first stage, they have had several formation works. Such works were made in order to create a critic mass of animation creators in the Canary Islands who could make it possible to set up a small industry related to animation and video games. Such industry has a technological base and a high added value that does not occupy anyterritory. With that, in cooperation with ‘La Mirada Producciones’, they have created the learning program called ‘Canarias Animada 2006-2011’, supported by ‘Canarias Culturaen Red’, ITC or Technical Institute of the Canary Islands, and the ‘Cabildo de Tenerife’. There were four master courses of 800 hours. During those masters, they were establishing a younger group of animation creators. Those creators are now working in animation and video game design enterprises in the Canary Islands and other places. Those activities were possible thanks to designer Carlos Miranda. Carlos Miranda is a designer from Tenerife. He studied at the Canadian animation school ‘VanArts’. He then returned to the Canary Islands for teaching others the methods he learned in Canada. Before this, these types of learning could be taken at international schools with a higher rate of price. But then, these learning programs are now available for people in the Canary Islands.
At the second stage, they started the industrial process of animation design. In 2012, this enterprise produced a TV show for the second local TV channel. This TV show is called ‘El Club de Archi’, a children’s program that introduces some animated movies. This children TV program was produced without any additional cost for the broadcasting corporation. In 2013, this program became the best children’s program in the local TV. For this reason, the programme was broadcasted at the first TV channel, which did not offer any other children related program until then. This is a local program aimed at children, whose contents are adapted to the local context and that is produced in Canary Islands.
Finally, they started to think about the next step, internationalization. Their first tries of producing an animated TV series failed. But in 2014, in collaboration with an international distribution enterprise and the national broadcasting corporation RTVE, they were planning to produce a movie called “Cleo”. They say that this animation film will attract a nationwide children target, and also, have a huge international impact. After the development of their projects with help and support of ‘Canarias Culturaen Red’, they start to make a style proposal in order to produce their own children’s movie. In 2013, they started producing a test season for their TV series without any support. This test season consisted of thirteen 6-minute episodes. This test season attracted the attention of children’s Spanish TV channel ‘Clan TV’, and Imira Entertainment. The stage had just started, as they were told that he minimum rate of chapters so that their series could be broadcasted nationally and sold internationally is 39 episodes. That means that this enterprise must produce more and more episodes non-stop, and they had to do it with no economic support from the government of Canary Islands. In 2014, they produced the resting 26 episodes. The team directors behind the serie’s production are the ones that took part in the previous master courses. They now have such an important experience, since they have been working in ‘El Club de Archi’ and other international animation services that the studio had already given, and in many other business projects.
The debut of ‘Cleo’ was in 2015, being broadcasted at the children’s TV channel ‘Clan’. This series was also distributed in other countries, and has won the award for the best international animation film at the International Animation Film Festival in Stuttgart, and in the Sao Paulo International TV Festival.
Also in 2015, ‘Cleo’ has become the most watched TV series in the TV channel ‘Clan TV’. It is the leading program of the pre-scholar target. At December, they earned a second position at the channel’s general ranking. It is among some of the best known international series, such as ‘Pepa Pig’. They also created ‘El mundo de Cleo’ (“Cleo’s world”), an app for educational purposes that is based on the TV show. It will be produced in cooperation with Italian platform ‘KidzInMind’. Their toys will be distributed by Spanish enterprise CEFA Toys. These educational games are competing with other toys and games from other internationally acclaimed toy producers
Now, they have earned an important success. They have already dreamt of that for ten years. ‘Cleo’ is an animated character produced in the Canary Islands that is yet known in the rest of the world. It is a trademark that has many chances of becoming a solid and internationally recognized brand.
What is the enterprise’s current activity?
The main activities of this enterprise are the creation of brands and animation design. ‘La Casa Animada’ is an enterprise in which we have a multi-task team of employees. These employees put many efforts and illusion in their work. Now we are producing ‘Cleo’s second season and also we are trying to make our brand globally known.
Besides, we are working in other projects that will be started in the future. But we must work hard in order to make possible that our brand can have a huge career. We must keep this brand safe. If we make this possible, we can assure that other products made by our factory could have a huge amount of success.
Why do you think it is important to look up for external markets?
That is because our main goal is showing all our talent to the rest of the world. That’s the only way of having chances of starting up our projects. ‘El club de Archi’ is a program that is seen as a show that gives us a point of territorial unity and that helps us to be proud of being in such a discontinuous territory as it is the Canary Islands. ‘Cleo’ started with the main goal of becoming a global trademark. We must delimit what the main product features are. Also, we have to work if we want the product to arrive to the indicated targets.
What are the future international projects? Which countries? Why?
We are working from the Canary Islands to the rest of the world. We have some information that a studio from India will collaborate with us in producing ‘Cleo’. Nevertheless, we did not accept that proposal because this will make lose part of our royalties, and because this idea is not what we expect when talking about creating a sustainable animation industry in the Canary Islands, because if we make the works of creation and do not make the production locally, we see that we are not producing an industry in our local environment. It is true that it is cheaper to hire people in Asia. Also, it’s true that Asians have much experience. In spite of that, we apply such a competitive method that makes possible that our film maintains all of its essence. Because ‘Cleo’ has a traditionally elaborated basis that we have upgraded in order to make some adjustments for being adapted into the industrial process. Its traditional part is what we think that makes it so different and innovative. So, if we break the chain, we may lose all its essence. We all think that there may be other countries that can join in for producing more seasons. For this, the production must be developed differently from the beginning. We must import our working method. While in the Islands we produce a new 39-episode season, in other countries they can produce a season with the same number of episodes. And by doing this, we can distribute more than 78 episodes internationally. That would be a positive thing for ‘Cleo’. These chapters must be produced instead of the 39 episodes of each season. This number of episodes is the number that we can estimate our studio can produce in a cheaper and more controlled way.
Little by little, the internationalization is starting to work, because the program is already being distributed by many companies throughout Europe, Asia and America. We have to be patient and not take risks that can make us lose our trademark, as ‘Cleo’ has some good potential not only as a TV series that can be seen in other platforms, but also as an educational toy and games trademark and license for other products. This makes it possible to open the door for the production of new animated series, as much as products made for kids, and trademarks made in the Canary Islands.
Did you get any support?
While producing the first season, which consisted of 39 6-minute episodes, 200 minutes of animation, the field of creation of cultural, educational, and artistic products in all across the nation and our region was suffering the worst times. In 2011, there was not any kind of support for audiovisual works by the local government, something surprising as, two years before, the local parliament declared that audiovisual sector was strategic. Now, between 2011 and 2014, the cultural ministry was absorbed by the ‘Consejería de Asuntos Sociales’. The real work was done by members of ‘La Casa Animada’, by assuming such an enormous amount of work without receiving any economical help. We have since then put our own efforts so that we could pay the rest of the team by making some internal crowd-funding with our own budgets. But it is not so fair to say this, because the local broadcasting corporation ‘Televisión Canaria’ helped us by buying broadcasting rights and royalties. We also received support from the ‘Cabildo de Tenerife’. Also ‘Canarias Cultura en Red’ and ‘Proexca’ supported us. Those institutions helped us so that we could translate and dub our film into English, and, by doing so, we could open to a wide international market.
We produce this TV show both in Spanish and English. That is the only way of starting to sell in other countries. Once we have sold the product to other countries that speak other languages, the TV broadcasting corporations work so this product can be dubbed into other languages.
Now, ‘Cleo’ “speaks” Spanish, English, Polish, French and Portuguese. This film soon will be dubbed in Chinese.
In the second season, consisting of 39 7-minute episodes - a season that we are still working on-, things are changing. The economic income for the sales of the first season makes it possible to pay the loans received for producing the series and to get private financing for producing this second season. Besides, RTVE collaborates in producing, and ‘Televisión Canaria’ plans to buy broadcasting rights. After the announcement of the Canarian government and the Cabildo de Tenerife saying that there will be economic help for this sector, we are sure that ‘Cleo’ deserves institutional support for three reasons: because this series takes place in the Islands, because it is an educational children TV show that works with children’s intellect by not using stereotypes or clichés, apart from being an entertaining product; and finally, because it has already opened a path for the animation creation designed completely in the Islands, giving it an added value.
Creadora de la serie “Cleo”
La Casa Animada
Camino Viejo, 59, 1º C
38280 Tegueste – Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Tel: 922 150 556 / 672 390 928