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Annecy: TeamTO Announces ECAS Second-Chance Animation School

Variety logo Variety 6/13/2017 John Hopewell
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ANNECY, France — Expansive European studio TeamTO is launching an affirmative action CGI animation school, aimed at offering a second career chance to young French people from socially-marginalized and low-income backgrounds who simply have a natural flair for animation.

The Ecole Cartoucherie Animation Solidier (ECAS) will open its doors in mid-January 2018 at Bourg-les.Valance’s La Cartoucherie, an animation hub between Lyon and Marseilles, that already houses a TeamTO animation studio, expanded in 2015, as well as the Folimage Studio, and La Poudriere, one of France’s top animation schools.   

The free-of-charge school will offer an intensive six-month course open to 25 animation students, half women, who pass an online drawing test suggesting strong animation skills potential, regardless of prior academic qualifications, said TeamTO president Guillaume Hellouin.

“The idea is to help them develop that potential for CG animation in the space of six months,” Hellouin added, saying that a second test, requiring computers and workstations, would be staged close to where many potential candidates live, and that the ECAS would be an “intensive program. Like six days a week with the school open from 9 am to 10 pm.”

Hellion presented the ECAS on Tuesday at Annecy’s MIFA market, along with Carole Toledo, director of the TeamTO Bourg-les-Valance animation studio, who will also head the  ECAS on a day-to-day basis. 

Animation directors from TeamTO’s La Cartoucherie’s studio will direct lessons. Hellouin will serve as president of the non-profit organization which runs the school. TeamTO hopes several celebrated animation directors will give masterclasses. It will also strive to find low-cost local accommodation for ECAS students, near to the school in order to build team spirit.  

ECAS will play off several partnerships, The initiative has won the backing of France’s L’Ecole de la Deuxieme Chance – its second chance education initiative. La Pudriere, a smart prestige school for directors, will help supply a cultural context for the course – such as helping ECAS students to get see some of the greatest animation films ever made, Hellouin said.  

The ECAS launch can be placed in an industry context, TeamTO co-founder Corinne Kouper suggested. Combining with the energies and ambitions of a group of animation producers in France, new incentives from France’s CNC film-TV board – plus a hike in rebates (to 30% of local spend) and the cap (€30 million per film) for France’s Tax Rebate for International Production (TRIP) – have helped fire up production levels, new studio launches and competition between studios for animation  talent. ECAS is one way of solving this demand, while taking affirmative social action, she added.

“It’s time to start training people in a sector where’s there’s a demand for talent all over the world,” Kouper said. 

ECAS is in no way a challenge to France’s established  animation schools, she added. “We’re trawling in a different talent pool.” 

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