Animation in Germany

The German animation industry has long been hamstrung by a lack of support from the government and local broadcasters, leading to its characterisation as the “sleeping giant” of the European animation industry. Nevertheless, there are around 80 companies successfully focusing on animation and VFX operating in Germany.

Funding and lack of broadcaster support

The main sources of funding for animated series in Germany is from TV broadcasters, distributors, worldwide sales, national funding and regional funding. However, spending on animated projects is low among German broadcasters, while most of the country’s federal states have not traditionally recognised the value of animation production.

Unlike many of its neighbouring European Union (EU) countries, there is no national funding instrument, such as a tax credit, to help local producers in Germany finance animated projects. However, funding for production of TV series is now available in almost all regions in Germany and funding for the development of TV series is available in selected regions.

Meanwhile, there is ongoing frustration among producers of animated series that German broadcasters continue to enter into direct coproductions with foreign producers on projects without also involving a local producer, as is commonplace elsewhere in Europe. Therefore, German producers feel they are not supported sufficiently by local broadcasters and private broadcasters in particular, leading to calls for the introduction of a quota for German animation programmes.

Public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, which together operate the children’s channel KiKa, are the principal investors in animation. Overall, slots for animated programming on German television are declining. So far, online subscription VoD players such as Netflix and Amazon – both of which have invested in live action series from Germany – have not worked with German companies on animated series or features in any meaningful way.

Original production

There are numerous examples of animated programmes from Germany that have found success both domestically and internationally. These include: Animanimals, Coconut the Little Dragon, Mia & Me, Maya the Bee: The Series, Raven the Little Rascal: The Series and Tilda Appleseed.

A growing number of animation producers are developing original intellectual property, with Germany standing out as the third best represented country in terms of projects pitched at the annual European coproduction event Cartoon Forum in September 2018.

The trade body Animation Germany was founded in 2017 and there is evidence that the local industry is beginning to receive more attention from regional and national funding sources thanks to its work.

The country’s feature film animation industry is in a comparatively better state than its animated series business, meaning local producers tend to focus on both formats. The international market is becoming more important to German animated feature films, which are now extending beyond domestic distribution.

Recent examples include: Ooops! Noah Is Gone (2015), Luis & the Aliens (2018), Richard the Stork (2017) and Happy Family (2017). Moreover, the German Federal Film Fund, which has an annual support budget of €75m, is now much easier to access for animation films due to a lowering of the entry barriers. This is helping to increase the budgets of German animated feature films and make them more competitive internationally. Meanwhile, an additional funding instrument for TV is currently under discussion.

Funding tool needed

Essentially, positive changes in German animation are dependent on the introduction of a nationally effective funding instrument to make the industry internationally competitive. There is hope that over the coming years VoD platforms could potentially establish themselves as funding partners, whilst private broadcasters are unlikely to emerge as investors without the introduction of a quota.

The German animation industry has long been hamstrung by a lack of support from the government and local broadcasters, leading to its characterisation as the “sleeping giant” of the European animation industry. Nevertheless, there are around 80 companies successfully focusing on animation and VFX operating in Germany.

Funding and lack of broadcaster support

The main sources of funding for animated series in Germany is from TV broadcasters, distributors, worldwide sales, national funding and regional funding. However, spending on animated projects is low among German broadcasters, while most of the country’s federal states have not traditionally recognised the value of animation production.

Unlike many of its neighbouring European Union (EU) countries, there is no national funding instrument, such as a tax credit, to help local producers in Germany finance animated projects. However, funding for production of TV series is now available in almost all regions in Germany and funding for the development of TV series is available in selected regions.

Meanwhile, there is ongoing frustration among producers of animated series that German broadcasters continue to enter into direct coproductions with foreign producers on projects without also involving a local producer, as is commonplace elsewhere in Europe. Therefore, German producers feel they are not supported sufficiently by local broadcasters and private broadcasters in particular, leading to calls for the introduction of a quota for German animation programmes.

Public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, which together operate the children’s channel KiKa, are the principal investors in animation. Overall, slots for animated programming on German television are declining. So far, online subscription VoD players such as Netflix and Amazon – both of which have invested in live action series from Germany – have not worked with German companies on animated series or features in any meaningful way.

Original production

There are numerous examples of animated programmes from Germany that have found success both domestically and internationally. These include: Animanimals, Coconut the Little Dragon, Mia & Me, Maya the Bee: The Series, Raven the Little Rascal: The Series and Tilda Appleseed.

A growing number of animation producers are developing original intellectual property, with Germany standing out as the third best represented country in terms of projects pitched at the annual European coproduction event Cartoon Forum in September 2018.

The trade body Animation Germany was founded in 2017 and there is evidence that the local industry is beginning to receive more attention from regional and national funding sources thanks to its work.

The country’s feature film animation industry is in a comparatively better state than its animated series business, meaning local producers tend to focus on both formats. The international market is becoming more important to German animated feature films, which are now extending beyond domestic distribution.

Recent examples include: Ooops! Noah Is Gone (2015), Luis & the Aliens (2018), Richard the Stork (2017) and Happy Family (2017). Moreover, the German Federal Film Fund, which has an annual support budget of €75m, is now much easier to access for animation films due to a lowering of the entry barriers. This is helping to increase the budgets of German animated feature films and make them more competitive internationally. Meanwhile, an additional funding instrument for TV is currently under discussion.

Funding tool needed

Essentially, positive changes in German animation are dependent on the introduction of a nationally effective funding instrument to make the industry internationally competitive. There is hope that over the coming years VoD platforms could potentially establish themselves as funding partners, whilst private broadcasters are unlikely to emerge as investors without the introduction of a quota.

Animation Germany

Animation Germany was founded by the industry to promote German animation/VFX producers, productions and studios and for the sake of expanding the international business potential for German companies. The label provides a platform to get together and informs about players and products in the German market. Moreover, Animation Germany offers events that will encourage international coproductions.

Managing director: Tania Reichert-Facilides

Produzentenallianz

The German Producers Alliance – Film & Television (Allianz Deutscher Produzenten – Film & Fernsehen e.V.) has over 260 members and represents the majority of German production companies working in animated film, documentary, feature film, TV drama, TV entertainment, and advertising film production, making it the most influential German producers’ association. On the national and international stage, the Producers Alliance represents the interests of producers vis-à-vis politics, distributors, negotiating partners, and all institutions for the media and cultural industries. The main task is the continuous dialogue with decision makers in politics, administration and funding institutions etc. on a regional, state and national level as well as in other countries and within the EU.

Animation Germany

Animation Germany was founded by the industry to promote German animation/VFX producers, productions and studios and for the sake of expanding the international business potential for German companies. The label provides a platform to get together and informs about players and products in the German market. Moreover, Animation Germany offers events that will encourage international coproductions.

Managing director: Tania Reichert-Facilides

Produzentenallianz

The German Producers Alliance – Film & Television (Allianz Deutscher Produzenten – Film & Fernsehen e.V.) has over 260 members and represents the majority of German production companies working in animated film, documentary, feature film, TV drama, TV entertainment, and advertising film production, making it the most influential German producers’ association. On the national and international stage, the Producers Alliance represents the interests of producers vis-à-vis politics, distributors, negotiating partners, and all institutions for the media and cultural industries. The main task is the continuous dialogue with decision makers in politics, administration and funding institutions etc. on a regional, state and national level as well as in other countries and within the EU.