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International Hareport is under construction

8 december 2008
Jan Bultheel has finished the first episodes of his 3D animation series International Hareport. This French-Belgian coproduction about two hares running an animal airport will be broadcast on TF1 in France and on Ketnet in Belgium next fall.
The stars of International Hareport are Ned and Fred, two hare brothers, who are managing an animal airport. Nobody really knows why or how, but in this series all animals can fly. With the help of their friends they try to keep up with all the incoming and outgoing air traffic, the best way they can. And that’s not always running smoothly. Jan Bultheel came up with the idea for International Hareport five years ago, when he quit his job as a director of commercials. Bultheel started out as an animator but made an early career switch. Together with Annemie Maes, he founded Pix & Motion, a successful production company of commercials, music videos and animated intros for tv shows. Five years ago, after having spent almost 20 years in the commercial industry, he decided to quit running his company and to take up his old profession. Not to chase an old dream, but to rethink his options in a very well considered way. 'If money had been an objective, I would never have got into animation', says Jan. 'I simply wanted to do something else. When I stopped producing commercials and quit my company, I sat down and thought what I would be able to do with my abilities and experience. At that time, two of my children were very little. So I decided to create an animation series for kids. But I thought it over very well and I gathered a lot of information about what was happening in the market. Personally, I tend to be very realistic in this kind of matters.'International Hareport At a dinner organised by SACD at the Annecy Festival in 2004, Jan sat next to a French producer from TeamTO. 'I talked her about my project and we decided to develop it together. We introduced the idea to the buyers at TF-1, who did not react very postively at first. They were not interested in a series targeted at pre-school children, but they did like the idea of an airport for animals. So we completely reworked the project towards an older audience, children from 8 to 12, primarily boys. By the way: if anyone feels the urge to develop an animation series right now, I suggest they come up with an idea for a series aimed at girls aged 8 to 12. In the end, you really should be very aware of what broadcasters need.' In a first stage, Jan will direct 13 of the 26 twelve minute episodes of International Hareport. A second series is a possibility, but making a long animation movie has never been an objective. 'I don't see why an animation feature would be the absolute top', says Jan. International Hareport Eighty percent of the €4.9 million budget is French. 'In Belgium it is very difficult to start up a series like this', according to both Jan and his Flemish producer Viviane Vanfleteren from Vivifilm. The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) contributed €200,000. Four episodes will be animated by Grid in Ghent. A team of 12 Flemish animators and supervisors will work on the project for four months. The other episodes will be made in the brand new animation studios of La Cartoucherie in Bourg-Les-Valence (F). International Hareport is scheduled to be broadcast in France by September. A Flemish version of the series will be on air shortly after on Ketnet , the youth channel of public broadcaster VRT. Pre-sales agreements have also been made with Norway and Sweden.International Hareport Links The team at Grid working on International Hareport: Wim Tilkin (animation supervisor), Koen Reynaerts (animation producer), Jan Ebo (techical supervisor), Frank De Wulf (producer Grid), Hilaire Van den Broeck, Kristof Toppets, Maya Gouby, Maxim Vandeputte, Danny De Vent, Jan Gaudissabois, Kris Borgs, Joke Eyken, Marie-Laure Guisset, Jorgo Bitsis and Wim Forton (animators).