Irish animators take center stage in LA and around the world

When it comes to entertainment, Los Angeles is undoubtedly the global epicenter of the industry.

Last week, the crème de la crème of the global animation industry gathered at The Garland Hotel in the city for the annual World Animation Summit. Also in attendance was an Irish delegation, attending the event as part of a joint visit by Enterprise Ireland and Screen Ireland.

Our animation sector is dynamic and growing, with over 40 companies now members of the Animation Ireland industry body, up from seven in 2005.

Irish animated film is also heavily export oriented and highly internationalised, with overseas sales accounting for 85 per cent of turnover.

The customer base of some of these Irish companies has an impressive list and includes Apple TV, Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Nickelodeon, the BBC, Super RTL, Cartoon Network, Scholastic, YouTube and China TV. This means animation produced in Ireland is seen by millions of people in over 130 territories.

With such impressive growth, it’s no surprise that Irish animators took center stage at this World Animation Summit, as the unique storytelling that has emerged from Ireland has certainly put this Irish industry on the map in recent years.

Nora Twomey, co-founder and creative director of acclaimed and Oscar-nominated Kilkenny-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon, spoke onstage at the event on Monday during a session introducing the awards season’s contenders. The latest movie from Cartoon Saloon My father’s dragon continues to make waves in the industry and around the world.

Also on Monday, Andrew Kavanagh, CEO of Kavaleer Productions, introduced series such as Pablo and Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheesespoke at the event as part of a panel on international partnerships.

There is no doubt that Irish animation is held in high esteem by industry giants.

Cartoon Saloon alone has five Oscar nominations. During Brown Bag Films, which has released global animated hits such as Doc McStuffins and vampire, has two Oscar nominations. And other Irish animation houses have also received international recognition at the Baftas and the Golden Globes, along with the Annies (which specifically honor animation) and the Kidscreen Awards.

This creative magic also translates into jobs in Ireland. The large concentration of animation companies here offers valuable skilled employment, especially for younger professionals with college degrees.

In fact, the industry here is now the largest provider of full-time and permanent employment in the independent film and television industry. As an industry, it has a strong focus on business integrity and is also committed to diversity, equality and inclusion.


Jacob Tremblay voices the main character Elmer in My Father’s Dragon

Ireland is also a leader in related research, development and innovation. Companies such as Jam Media, Piranha Bar, Pink Kong, Little Moon, Giant and Algorithm are developing extensive new technologies and unique IP for TV, film, games, mobile and VR/AR applications and operate technically demanding 2D and 3D -Production facilities.

Enterprise Ireland supports this innovation with funding and advice and supports the further development of our local animation industry in any way we can. This includes supporting startups, investing in leadership development and allowing our animators to attend key market events. Along with the support of the Enterprise Ireland team in Ireland and across our network of 40 offices around the world, a key element of this work and supporting this growth is the industry’s collaboration with stakeholders such as Screen Ireland, Animation Ireland, RTÉ and others.

Ultimately, the Enterprise Ireland team aims to enable these companies to scale globally and make the most of opportunities in gaming, licensing and merchandising.

We also support high growth startups including Turnip & Duck, Daily Madness and Studio Meala. Animation is a particularly dynamic market and even small startups can benefit as consumers hunger for new, creative and fun content as broadcasters, SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) and gaming giants seek to expand their libraries

In addition, Enterprise Ireland also supports the annual Animation Dingle Festival, which is now primarily an Oscar-approved festival. The 11th Animation Dingle takes place in Kerry next March and this event celebrates the creativity, storytelling and innovation of Irish animation. Key decision makers such as Dreamworks, Nickelodeon, Aardman Studios, Apple TV, Disney, BBC and Cartoon Network will engage directly with the student and corporate attendees, sharing insights into the extent of the opportunities that exist for Ireland’s growing animation sector .

The future is bright – Ireland is in an incredible spotlight – what a brilliant time for Irish animators and young creatives to pursue their dreams. Long may Ireland be the place where animation happens!

Eileen Bell is Senior Business Development Advisor at Enterprise Ireland Irish animators take center stage in LA and around the world

Fry Electronics Team

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