The Vue Group and ZAC Films, two locally owned and operated Western Australian production companies, have landed multi slate deal agreements with Chinese based, Shanghai Hippo Animation Design Company (Hippo), which will reap benefits for the local screen industry and the state.
Both agreements will produce world class animated feature films that will entertain and inspire children and families in China, Australia and the rest of the world.
The agreements are the result of several business trips and delegations made by The Vue Group and ZAC Films as part of a strategic screen industry stakeholder plan developed by ScreenWest and the Department of State Development (DSD) offices China.
The relationship will help develop Western Australia as a creative, dynamic state with a highly skilled and talented workforce that can operate on an international level and also provides direct access to the world’s largest market for animation – China.
Hippo also intends to launch its own private Western Australia/China Film Fund which will co-finance films. The fund commences with $10 million initially, with a target of $50 million, and it would invest in projects from development through to production.
Culture and the Arts Minister John Day met with Mr Ian Booth, Chief Executive of ScreenWest, Mr Kerr Xu, Founder and CEO of Shanghai Hippo Animation Design Company, and Mr Alan Lindsay, The Vue Group and Mr Troy Zafer, ZAC Films to celebrate the agreement and what it means for the state.
Mr Ian Booth said ScreenWest and the DSD in China was fundamental in helping to cement reciprocal relationships in China.
“Over the last three years, ScreenWest and DSD have spent considerable energy in developing relationships with the Chinese screen industry and today we’re seeing a great end result. The creative industries in the state will benefit from this agreement as will the local economy,” he said.
“An elite team of 25 Australian creative animators will be employed, trained and developed at the Vue Group offices, which is located in Bunbury. At full capacity this group will grow to 50 people making Bunbury a creative centre for animation able to compete on an international level.
“The fact that these projects can be created in regional WA and then shown to national and international audiences confirms the strength and diversity of WA’s film industry.”
This is an open ended film deal for The Vue Group and currently there are a raft of films under consideration with titles including: The Adventures of Marco Polo, The Rabbit 2, Farm House 81 and Perfect Friends. All these films will be in English and then sub titled in Chinese to make them appealing to Chinese audiences. The total production budget for these three films to be co-produced by the Vue Group and Hippo will exceed $57m.
In the second year of the project it is estimated that approximately $5 million in local production value will be added to the creative industries economy of the South West and that this will significantly increase to $10 million in 2014/2015.
The provision of ongoing employment and development opportunities within the South West will help to retain skilled workers and add diversity to the local economy by broadening the mix of industries and occupations in the area.
ZAC Films will be co-producing at least three animated feature films together with Hippo between 2014-2016. These being: Jungle Master 2 a sequel to the animated feature ‘Jungle Master’ that Hippo produced and released in 2013. Deep Sea, which is a new piece of IP that will be co-developed between both companies, is a family friendly adventure comedy set underwater. The Awesomes is a project which is inspired by the award winning work that the ZAC Creative team (ZAC Films’ sister company) have produced with the Awersome Arts Festival over the past three years. ZAC Films profits from this film will be shared with Awesome Arts Festival which will assist them in their fantastic work of inspiring creativity in children.
The total production budget for these three films to be co-produced by ZAC Films and Hippo will exceed $30m with at least 20% of the production to be produced in Australia.