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Animation Sucks: The provocative party happening next to MIFA

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The global animation community will be converging on Europe this June. As the long-established Annecy International Animated Film Festival permeates the industry zeitgeist in France, many may be unaware of an emerging event in neighbouring Belgium. Cheekily titled “Animation Sucks: In Your Face”, what it lacks in clout it certainly makes up for in countercultural confidence. 

Running June 14, 2017, at Les Ateliers des Tanneurs in Brussels, the second annual Animation Sucks is a rebel with a cause. Through exhibition and education, it aims to raise the industry’s profile and potential across a variety of applications, with a special slant towards those that are commercial and promotional. It is the brainchild of Volstok, a Belgian animation studio with a penchant for pushing the envelope through its marketing and digital content.

This year’s lineup of speakers and influencers includes the team from Italy’s NERDO Creative Studio, RADIO from London and Cape Town, and Britain’s award-winning Studio Aka, as well as a surprise guest. Toon Boom is also a sponsor. The inaugural Animation Sucks had 100 attendees — for 2017, they’re aiming to double that. The event attracts those from across the industry’s spectrum including animators, advertising and digital agencies, app developers, game producers, television and film production companies, brands, students and enthusiasts.

animation-sucks-toon-boom3.jpgSource: Volstok.

To better understand the underdog, we spoke to Animation Sucks’ organizer and Volstok marketing and business development manager Bram Eylenbosch.

So where does the name “Animation Sucks” comes from?

BE: We’re making a bold statement to create a safe and inspiring dialogue about the medium. Animation Sucks is the spawn of several brainstorm sessions by Volstok’s creative directors Wouter Sel and Thijs De Cloedt.

We’re doing what we do best: being provocative and providing our creative Volstok touch in everything we do, including our event. Animation Sucks draws attention and makes people start questioning themselves. Our goal is to battle animation shaming and prejudice — one event at a time.

What do you mean by animation shaming and prejudice?

BE: Animation can be surprising and effective, and we want everyone to see that. Animation professionals will likely recognize statements like: “It’s too expensive” or “Animation? Our clients are way to mature for that!” or “Yeah, and I hear the production process is unpredictable”.animation-sucks-toon-boom2.pngSource: Volstok.

We’re not trying to act as if we are victims of some global conspiracy to keep animation studios in control. It’s just that in our opinion —and based on the amount of experience gathered by working both internationally and in the Belgian market— we see the need for a platform informing companies and the creative industry about the capacities of animation.

How did past experiences inspire Volstok to create Animation Sucks?   

BE: Volstok is a true animation powerhouse in Belgium. But still, we would have so much more to offer if only animation as a medium wasn’t so misinterpreted. That notion was the launching point.

I brought up the idea to organize an event. Initially, it was supposed to be on a smaller scale, and really focussed and intimate. An event to attract the right kind of people and decision makers within the creative industry, but also to provide information to dispel misconceptions about animation. The first edition launched with 100 attendees and was a huge success. “Animation Sucks #2: In Your Face” is going to be bigger, better, bolder and braver.

What can attendees expect to see and learn?

BE: Expect the unexpected! It’s a unique event. Animation Sucks is a rock ’n roll view on animation. That’s why this edition is themed around animation being “In Your Face”. We invited the cream of the crop from Belgium and beyond to show the industry what can be achieved within the boundaries of your budget. And yes, we promise you’ll stand out in today’s avalanche of branded content. Like a giraffe in a pack of zebras.

animation-sucks-toon-boom4.png

Source: Volstok.

In one night, four of the finest movers and shakers from the animation world will show you just how much our medium rocks. This is not just people presenting portfolios. It’s true talent showing what happens behind the scenes from conceptualizing to workflows to being creative not only in images, but also in handling productions and their limitations on-time and on-budget. The talks are meant to complement each other, hitting the mark from different angles to paint a complete picture of animation’s possibilities.

What sets Animation Sucks apart from other animation events and festivals?

BE: On another level, I think Animation Sucks sets itself apart from other festivals in a way that we are not about giving out awards or just showcasing productions. We go deeper, we explore the boundaries of the medium and most importantly, we inform agencies, production companies, decision makers, students and the press in general on what animation is all about, plus what can be achieved and expected.

You are running around the same time as Annecy and MIFA. What challenges and opportunities does this present?

BE: We make ads and we create content — it could almost be another industry. We keep pushing the boundaries, aiming to bridge the gap between art and the commercial world. Annecy and Mifa are oriented towards animated shorts, series and feature films.

animation-sucks-toon-boom5.png

Source: Volstok.

They are events that are considered a reference within the industry, but we’re aiming to become one ourselves. And maybe we can work together in the future, I think we have something new to offer. As the animation industry is pretty low key and scattered when it comes to events, why not? We’re breaking boundaries and the industry as a whole is in need of just that.

Can you say in a sentence or two why animation does not suck?

BE: Come find out for yourself!

Do you think there is prejudice against animation? Let us know in the comments below!

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