An interview with Luca Milano, deputy director of Rai Fiction and head of the animation sector.
In Mid-April the second edition of the TV animation festival, “Cartoons on the Bay”, promoted by Rai, will be held in Venice, where traditionally Rai Fiction presents its top products for the new season. Which Italian products have the greatest international appeal?
Animation is an international genre and nearly all the titles that Rai co-produces are suitable for circulation abroad.
Among our biggest recent successes, alongside the evergreen “Winx Club” and “Geronimo Stilton”, I should mention the programs for preschoolers like“Mofy”, “Calimero” and “Topo Tip” and, for older kids, “Mia & Me”, the second series of which is being launched in the next few days. Another new title that we believe will have great appeal is the “Trullalleri”, a series about food and magic, set against the landscape of Puglia, which will deputy certainly travel around the world.
You have opened up animation more to adult audiences, or rather the type of animation that has always been absent on Italian TV screens. Is it really possible to find new audiences for generalist TV as well?
In the field of cartoons, our primary audience is and continues to be children and teenagers.
It is an important audience, valuable, delicate, that deserves the best of our attention and our creativity.
That is not just a stock phrase: producing and programming audiovisual works for kids is a big responsibility, one of the cornerstones that justify our role as a public service broadcaster.
But it is true that animation is a flexible language that can also be directed towards an audience of teenagers and adults. In this we are all quite far behind, even on a European level. It is probably true that it is difficult to find space in today’s TV schedules for animated series for teenagers. You have to aim for articulated multimedia operations of which TV is just one component. Also in this sense the launch of the new Ray web platform, expressly dedicated to over 15 year olds, is a new opportunity.
The contamination between animation and live footage is increasingly making headway. Is Rai Fiction also involved in this new genre?
The production of hybrid series, live + animation, is a very interesting trend for involving a wider audience. After the success of “Mia & Me”, another new project is the series “7 nani ed io”, a European co-production that we believe is of great quality and has good audience potential.
Do you have any drama proposals for kids hidden away?
It is a topic that we are very interested in and Rai Fiction’s editorial line, in agreement with the Rai channels, includes the production of a series for children. For now we are in the development phase but I think that production could start in the second half of this year.
Rai Fiction’s activities at MipTV are mainly aimed at finding potential partners for drama projects which are in preparation. Any news?
Big co-productions have always been a feature of the most prestigious Rai dramas, usually TV-movies or miniseries. Recently we have also turned our hand to co-producing series of the melodrama genre, like “La Dama Velata”, as well as great historical frescos, starting with the history of Florence and the Medici family, which should start by the end of the year.
CARTOONS ON THE LAGOON
Cartoons on the Bay, the international television animation festival promoted by Rai Radiotelevisione italiana and organized by Rai Com, returns to Venice from April 16 – 18 for the 18th edition.
This is the second time that it has been held in the city of lagoons and, once again, the headquarters will be the splendid Palazzo Labia that has hosted the regional offices of Rai Veneto since 1964. It is a baroque palace featuring halls decorated with frescos by Giambattista Tiepolo, a location that is greatly admired by the Italian and foreign guests.
Israel is this edition’s guest of honor.
The country’s delegation will be led by Albert Hanan Kaminski, the great maestro of Israeli animation, the director of feature movies and TV series that include “Pettson and Findus” and animated films for the cult program “Sesame Street”, who will be receiving a career Pulcinella award.
Special Pulcinella Awards will go to Oscar winner Anthony La Molinara (for the special effects on “Spiderman”, on the jury along with Kaminski) and Sylvia Anderson, the creator of the legendary TV series “Space 1999” and “Thunderbirds” which, this year, celebrate 50 years from the first broadcast. To celebrate this event, the remake “Thunderbirds are Go!” will be launched, the international premiere of which will be presented by Giles Ridge and Estelle Hughes, executive producer of Britain’s ITV Studios, the International Studio of the Year Award winner along with DreamWorks Animation (Chloe van Den Berg, Head of International Television Distribution, will be in Venice).
Maurizio Forestieri’s Graphilm is the winner of the Italian studio of the year award and will present some of its latest works co- produced with Rai Fiction, such as “Buu-Bum”, the 26 x 26’ TV series set during the Second World War, “Waterloo” (5 x 11’), marking the bicentenary of the famous battle and “Nefertina”, an adventure series for small children set in Ancient Egypt (52 x 11’).