On 8 June 2021, the ALICE partners met online to discuss the progress of the finance and legal working group on the newly created “Wonderland” project, as well as to plan for the last activities and meetings as ALICE exploration phase ends. Especially designed to foster cross-regional collaborations in Europe, ALICE’s Wonderland is a newly created label providing beneficiaries access to two valuable tools: an exhaustive database of the key skills of animation studios in Europe called “smart directory,” and an innovative programme supporting the co-development of trans-national animated projects to accelerate the funding of the co-production phase of these projects through an initiative called “white marketing rabbit.”

The meeting started with an insightful presentation by the lead partner (Wallimage) of the case studies that led to the creation of Wonderland: the French- Walloon co-production “Abraca”, the animated film “Heart of Tower” co-produced in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Belgium, and the French- Belgian and Spanish film “Josep”. These case studies identified three major obstacles to the development of co-productions in Europe: rigid funding rules restricting labor expenses by location, varying labor costs in different regions and, in most territories, strict rules regarding the attribution of a nationality to European content.

Facing these serious regulatory challenges and motivated to provide short-term solutions, ALICE adopted a bottom-up approach to these problems: Wonderland will activate collaborations at the beginning of projects while focusing on the generally underfunded —and hence less regulated and more flexible, development phase. Wonderland will also provide producers the means to identify animation studios across Europe whose skills suit best their projects through the smart directory. With these solutions, the ALICE group hopes to trigger the development of new win-win creative partnerships between territories with complementary competitive advantages (e.g. skills and technology versus low labor cost), and initiate a positive cycle of more co-productions that will advance a long-term policy improvement.

Moving forward, the ALICE legal and finance working group presented the contract template that labeled territories will be able to use to set up bilateral agreements with other territories within Wonderland under the white marketing rabbit programme. The participants left the meeting with the satisfactory feeling of seeing ALICE achieve concrete steps towards its ultimate goal: more co-productions as the way forward to creating a competitive European industry.