The success of League of Legends led its creators, the Californian studio Riot Games, to consider in 2015 creating a series for television based on the video game universe. The pandemic delayed its release until December 2021. When it was released, however, the success was resounding: the animated story inherited from The Squid Game the most viewed series position on Netflix during the three weeks in which its episodes have been distributed and accumulates more than 130 million hours of viewing. It is the platform’s highest rated production in its entire history. The study in charge of the development of the series has been the French Fortiche, which has divided the work into three offices. Two in Paris and Montpellier (southern France), and the third, in Gran Canaria, the island where they settled in October 2020.
This is not the only outstanding case. Raúl Carbó is an engineer, animator and special effects technician from San Sebastian, living in Montpellier for 30 years. There he founded the production company In Efecto 16 years ago. For 14 years he dedicated himself to advertising, mainly for companies such as Michelin or BIC. At one point in the past decade, however, Carbó decided to tackle longer animation projects. They began to elaborate trailers series and they soon crossed paths with the writer Sophie Audouin-Mamikonian and her character Tara Duncan. The books about this warrior character had been adapted for television more than a decade ago (their episodes were broadcast on Spain by Clan TV). “The opportunity arose to do an animation project with this character,” explains Carbó. “And for this we decided to settle in Tenerife, take advantage of its tax incentives and facilities and thus make a series of higher quality.” The result: Tara Duncan It will be the first series entirely produced in the Canary Islands that will share space with the Beatles and Star Wars on the Disney + platform. The company had five employees in France. Now there are 180 in Tenerife. “The Canary Islands were the option to leave France from the beginning,” says Amélie Houpline, Production Manager at Fortiche in the Canary Islands. “Coming here has been good news for the company.”
Fortiche and In Efecto are not the only two examples of how the animation industry is taking root in the archipelago under the auspices of the Canary Islands Special Zone. There is the example of Koi, which through its parent Zinkia are the producers of Pocoyo (although since this is a mute character, the Canarian accent is not appreciated); Ánima Kitchent, a group that has offices in Mexico and Madrid, produces in the Canary Islands the renewed version of the Telerín Family (now called Cleo & Cuquin); o Mondo TV, a company listed on BME Growth, which produces Nina and Olga for the RAI of Italy. Or even entirely Canarian companies, such as Tenerife’s 3 Doubles, whose founders previously worked in Planet51 (the Spanish animated film that was once the largest cinematographic production produced in Spain and was awarded the title of the highest grossing Spanish film in the world in 2009).
“The Canarian animation industry practically did not exist in 2016,” explains Pablo Hernández, president of the Canary Islands Special Zone. “Right now there may be more than 1,000 employees in the sector, according to the data provided by the companies.” The annual growth rate is 99.8% since 2016, according to the ZEC. “It’s not just the incentives,” Raúl Carbó completes. “We are supported in the field of innovation, and it provides a solid foundation for creating long-lasting companies. And this can lead to the creation of an operations center (hub) European animation: there is talent, there is support, there are incentives ”.
According to the latest edition of White Book of the Spanish Animation and Visual Effects Industry, in Spain there are 250 companies. The two main poles of concentration of activity are, obviously, the Community of Madrid and Catalonia. Together, they account for 60% of the total. “However, the distribution could change,” says this document. “60% of the companies declare that they are willing to relocate to other communities.” If we have 12 animation companies in the ZEC ”, Hernández maintains, this means that we have approximately between 5% and 7.5% of the national fabric in number of companies, well above our percentage of GDP or population. The number of jobs may represent 13.3% of the approximate total employment.
And, both Carbó and Hernández emphasize, what may be more important is that animation can constitute a source of well-paid employment for an autonomous community such as the Canary Islands, leading the Spanish in unemployment rate and extremely dependent on the service sector. “We want to go to primary schools,” says the businessman from San Sebastian, “to explain to parents and students what being an entertainer consists of and how much one can earn. It is a creative job in which there is no unemployment and that is well paid. It is a real job, in a strong industry where there is a future ”.