As part of the ALICE project, the legal and finance working group developed a new incentive to support co-production of animated projects from the creative phase onwards. The whole concept, called Wonderland, aims to encourage early co-productions and foster quality collaborations within Europe. In its initial version, the mechanism was essentially a funding tool designed to support co-producers in the creation of pitch materials and pilots. In its final version, the mechanism has evolved into two separate and complementary tools, which will allow the integration of a larger number of countries and therefore increase the impact of the initiative.

This significant improvement between the two versions of the Wonderland was only possible with the active cooperation of ALICE partners and stakeholders. The film funds Wallimage and Pictanovo, who had led the initial reflection around the Wonderland label and designed the related funding tool in consultation with stakeholders from Wallonia and France, were concerned that the concept would be flexible enough to efficiently apply to other markets within Europe. Taking the first version of the "Wonderland" as a starting point to initiate discussions, they first conducted a powerpoint presentation of the concept in an open session with ALICE partners from Spain, Italy, Slovakia and Poland. The purpose of the meeting was to collect initial feedback and involve everyone in gathering reactions from their local stakeholders.

To support the process of a crucial second round of feedback and make sure that the people consulted would both understand the principles of Wonderland and be willing to respond, Wallimage found an engaging way to communicate with everyone by virtual means. Using a smart option within the Zoom application, they were able to integrate the initial powerpoint presentation in a lively, pedagogic video created and presented by Philippe Reynaert. The short clip was then distributed by the partners to all the stakeholders throughout the six regions of ALICE for their comments.

This practice of a thoughtful consultation process, including two steps and using the right communication tools, triggered abundant, prompt, and constructive feedback. It resulted in the creation of a new mechanism, better able to respond to the multiplicity of European animation industries. In its ultimate version, the Wonderland proposes to bring together countries with different financial resources and production capacities under one label. The territories that cannot commit to allocating funds at once, but are willing to share detailed information on their animated studios into a common SMART directory will be welcome to participate.

One of the lessons learned from this experience is the power of a video to effectively engage with people. Therefore, in their final report, which will be made public this summer, the partners will use visual communication to share their achievements. A playful video will provide an overview of the whole project and lead those who want to go further to read the project’s “White Book” of recommendations for the future of a successful animation industry in Europe.

As background: the importance of exchanging good practices

The objective of ALICE is to promote collaboration between European countries in the animation industry. In this spirit, collaboration is seen as an answer to the fierce international competition, as it makes it possible to produce ambitious projects while cultivating talents. Therefore, one of the foundations of the project is to practice collaboration by actively learning from, testing and potentially adopting what is being done in other regions/places or other sectors. The result of this collective, active and continuous approach is the implementation of new best practices, which make the lives of the industry players easier, help streamline communications, improve the efficiency of operations, and create new business opportunities.