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Ploey - You Never Fly Alone

Ploey - You Never Fly Alone

  • Main Director Arni Olafur Asgeirsson
  • Co-directors Gunnar Karlsson, Ives Agemans
  • Main Producers Gunhil
  • Co-producers BE Cyborn, BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance
  • Local Supplier Cyborn Animation Studio
  • Budget 6,900,178 EUR
  • Financed in BE 50%
  • Genre 3D animated feature, Comedy/Adventure
  • Sales Arri World Sales

How a little bird called Ploey has got the animation pipeline humming between Reykjavik and Antwerp.

The plover is a dumpy, short-billed wading bird which makes a distinctive ‘peeping’ sound and can be found as far north as Iceland during the summer. When the cold weather comes, however, the plover heads south to warmer climes. Not Ploey. The hero of an exciting new 3D animation co-production between Flanders and Iceland, Ploey suffers a major trauma early in life during a flying lesson when he is attacked by the evil falcon Shadow - an incident which results in the death of his father. Forced to spend the winter in Iceland, Ploey seeks out Paradise Valley, a secret place where those left behind can survive the winter. Determined to find his best friend Ploveria once again, Ploey must overcome his fear of flying and escape the clutches of Shadow.
Will he? Well, you are going to have to wait until November to find out. That’s when GunHil Productions in Reykjavik and Cyborn in Antwerp will deliver their 3D animation feature. Munich based sales agent ARRI Worldsales has been on board since the early stages and has already secured close to 20 international theatrical releases.

THE SAME WAY OF THINKING

The whole co-operation started with an earlier deal collapsing. “We were working with a German company,” recalls producer Hilmar Sigurdsson, the ‘Hil’ in GunHil (his partner Gunnar Karlsson is the ‘Gun’), “and they couldn’t deliver what they’d promised. Then we met the guys from Cyborn at Cartoon Movies in March 2015 and really got on: we both had the same way of thinking about animation. So, in a very short time, we paid a visit to their studio in Antwerp and decided to aim for this co-pro deal. What was really nice was that Cyborn had in this short time already secured 80% of their part of the financing via the Tax Shelter and also Screen Flanders quickly identified the possibilities of the project, which meant we could close the deal.” Production began in January 2016.
Sigurdsson and Karlsson set up GunHil with dotcom backing in 2000, then went solo in 2011 to make Iceland’s first animated feature, The Legends of Valhalla - Thor, which was a hit on the family market in 2012. They recently became a subsidiary of Iceland’s oldest film company, Sagafilm, with Sigurdsson as ceo of the whole operation.

The GunHil/Cyborn co-production on Ploey is financed 50-50%, but the bulk of the animation work is being done in Antwerp by Cyborn. Its founder, Ives Agemans, co-producer and co-director of Ploey, says he is very pleased to be part of the project. “We love working with our Icelandic partners, as we both share the same drive and perfectionism to produce an appealing film that can be enjoyed by a large international audience,” says Agemans. “Now that we are halfway through the production and everything is running smoothly, we are confident of reaching our goal.”
Cyborn is one of Flanders’ leading animation companies, with custombuilt studios specialising in 3D and with a firm foothold in the brave new world of VR. “Even though Cyborn has 18 years of experience in 3D animation productions, partly as a kind of service company for other producers, this is the first feature film that we have produced ourselves. It will definitely not be our last, though,” he notes. “Cyborn will continue co-producing key-frame animated 3D animation films like Ploey. We can’t give many details right now, but we can say that we have some really nice projects on the way. “Additionally, we are developing our own ambitious sci-fi film Hubris, that will make use of the latest Vicon Motion-capture systems, our inhouse motion-capture-based facial animation system, and a lot of cool 3D VR stuff that will blow your mind.”

What was really nice was that Cyborn had in this short time already secured 80% of their part of the financing and also Screen Flanders quickly identified the possibilities of the project, which meant we could close the deal.
Hilmar Sigurdsson

A RANGE OF SPECIALISTS

“Together with my partner in crime Iris Delafortry,” says Agemans, “we have managed to create a stimulating and dynamic environment. We want to keep expanding our team and expertise and offer our colleagues challenging projects. We consider this to be one of the most important aspects of Cyborn.”
For Ploey, Cyborn is taking care of the bulk of the 3D production, except for 15% of the character animation that will be done in Iceland. GunHil is in charge of the scenario, 2D designs, voice recordings, music, sound and lay-out. “For our part of the production,” Agemans explains, “we need a range of specialists. You have the character modellers, the environment modellers and the prop modellers. Then you have rigging artists who make the characters ready for animation. We have character animators, lighters, SFX artists, compositors and even a guy who does nothing but make hair and feathers…I can go on like this forever!” he laughs.

The process is clearly labourintensive and, as a result Ploey, insists Sigurdsson, will not just be for kids. “Our basic line is, ‘Let’s structure the story so it has a universal appeal’. We have to cater for the entire family; it cannot be specifically for young children.” There are, he admits, some potentially frightening moments (the film will have a seven-plus advisory). “Ploey’s father dies early on and that’s part of a struggle he has to overcome. But look at the Grimm brothers: the old fairy tales were really scary! To some extent kids like to be scared. The first film we ever did, The Lost Little Caterpillar, has a really scary spider in it. At the premiere, we had young children crying. But the feedback we got from parents was, ‘Yes, they were scared but that was the part of the film their kids wanted to watch again and again!’” Which, as Disney’s success with Frozen testifies, is the holy grail of family entertainment.

 

CYBORN *

  • 2018 Hubris (in development)
  • 2017 Ploey – You Never Fly Alone
  • 2016 Social Window (short)
  • 2015 Crupus (short)
  • 2014 Daddy Went. Daddy Did. (short, 3D animation)

* selected filmography