— What is the biggest challenge facing the animation business right now?
The greatest challenge we are constantly facing is a search for new ideas that will be interesting and familiar to the international audience. Then, there is also a technical implementation issue. Nobody is going to watch the movie produced with outdated technologies. So, the factors that affect the success of our movies a lot are a well-known and fascinating story and high quality of the animation.
— What is your company doing to meet this challenge?
We involve specialists from all over the world, starting right from the work on the concept itself. If the film is initially liked by international experts, it gives us confidence that it will appeal to audiences from different countries as well.The foreign members of our team help us move the project onto the international level. But the responsibility for the technical part lies entirely on the studio. That’s why we put a lot of effort into the development of proprietary software for animation industry, which helps us maintain the globally acceptable quality of animation and keep up with the level of the international industry leaders. With each new project, we increase the amount of our own software in the pipeline and improve the quality of the final picture. The undeniable advantage of Wizart studio is our flexibility, while the industry giants are mostly inert and can’t quickly respond to the market needs. We have a certain speed, which enables us to adapt to chops and changes of the market.
— Has YouTube had a positive or a negative effect on the animation industry and why?
YouTube’s new kids content policy has both pros and cons. One of the most obvious negative effects is that the monetization of children’s YouTube channels has been reduced due to disabling some features such as comments, live chats, notifications and, most importantly, personalized ads based on users’ viewing history. On the other hand, the appearance of YouTube Kids — the special channel for children — may help create favorable conditions for the development of the kids’ content. I think it’s good that you can finally influence your children’s web safety and keep it in check. Nowadays, when there are a lot of different platforms, the only true direction of development is very precise targeting. Today’s transition period is very difficult for our company. A few months earlier we launched a channel for the new project, and those changes were significant for it. But we believe that we will rebuild our relationship with this platform soon, and in general these measures are for the better.
— How will the launch of subscription video-on-demand services from Apple and Disney impact the animation industry?
The emergence of new VOD platforms is a definite advantage for the studio production. It gives us new opportunities to create more interesting content because the distribution channel expands and also lets us experiment with new forms. The more platforms appear, the more different content they need. I think it will positively affect the entire animation industry.
— Tell me about the projects you will be taking to Kidscreen this year.
Wizart Animation is running two big franchises these days. One of them is “Hansel and Gretel.” Inspired by the global success of “The Snow Queen,” we are going to release a series of feature films, based on the famous fairytale by the Brothers Grimm, and also create a TV show for this universe. We believe that the new franchise will be able to break all the records set by the Snow Queen and increase the number of territories where the theatrical release takes place. We are going to present the project during Kidscreen 2020 and looking for international partners to take part in co-production — both for the feature films and TV show. The other franchise we will show to our partners during Kidscreen is going to consist of feature films based on works by a famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Also we will present two ambitious TV shows. One of them is “The Snow Queen: Keepers of Wonders”, which is based on the world famous franchise of features about the Snow Queen and involves well-known characters. The other is “Fireproof Tin’s Robots” — a total experiment in a brand new format for our studio. We understand that a global project needs more than just attraction of individual foreign authors and that to go deeper into the market we need partners for co-production, whom we are going to find during this market. Ultimately, that is what makes a truly ambitious project.