Composer and animation series creator, Robert Hartshorne, has exported his creative ideas to China where the authorities are looking to forge a creative industries sector, which emulates that of the UK. In doing so, he is now on the verge of a truly global opportunity.
Having secured funding of £60,000 in April 2013 from the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Expansion Loan Scheme, Ex Cantibus Gaudium (ECG) owner Robert Hartshorne has since taken full advantage of the opportunities that loan afforded, bringing his current project to the door of the international market.
During an exploratory visit to China in 2010, Robert’s idea for a children’s animation series based on the ancient myths surrounding the Chinese Zodiac gained interest from two TV producers from the UK and China, who have worked with him since to build ‘Shudan’ from an idea into a fully formulated concept.
ECG’s initial funding from the TVB Expansion Loan Scheme enabled Robert to pursue opportunities in China and exploit market potential as the Chinese government seeks to replicate the UK in its expanding creative industries sector. The loan allowed Robert to spend the necessary time and funds to further develop relations in the region, as well as employ new staff and upgrade equipment in his Reading studio.
Following this activity, ECG and its partners have gained interest in the ‘Shudan’ concept from broadcasters across the globe, including the BBC, along with that of several major forces in toy merchandising – interest that Robert has been keen to maintain, as he explains:
“Engaging in conversations with some of the industry key players, it was apparent that we needed to progress the creative process quickly to have a chance at converting their interest into something more tangible.”
To this end, Robert approached his Fund Manager at The FSE Group, which is managing the loan scheme on behalf of TVB Local Enterprise Partnership, for a further loan of £140,000 to enable swift production of the trailer for the series. The loan was approved within five weeks, allowing Robert and his team to put together the trailer within the necessary timeframe.
So with the trailer complete, relationships in China established and international distribution and licensing agencies in place, ECG is now in the first phase of exporting what it hopes will become a major TV and film franchise.
Robert continues: “With the trailer ready, we are driving forward with our strategy to secure broadcasters, together with licenses for associated merchandising. During the summer we will complete our pilot episodes, which will play a vital role in selling the series before it is fully launched in September 2015.”
The series will be produced in conjunction with a Beijing based animation company, with much of the creative process – scripting, music, design and post-production – taking place at Robert’s Reading studio, leading to further job creation here.
Ian Baker, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group comments: “Since our last loan, Robert and his partners have focused on developing the necessary contacts and environment for this collaborative project which has UK and Chinese investment. We are delighted to be funding this next stage of development and look forward to seeing the series move into the production phase, which will bring additional employment to the Thames Valley Berkshire area.”
The TVB Expansion Loan Scheme is part of the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, a £7.3m initiative, which also includes a commercialisation loan and a growth fund, to support job creation and economic prosperity in Berkshire. Aimed at businesses of all stages, from start-up to established, the escalator provides loans and equity funding between £25,000 and £200,000 to eligible businesses which meet the relevant criteria. Funded by Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and managed by FSE C.I.C., the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator is aimed at businesses based in Berkshire with the potential to deliver high growth and employment opportunities.
For more information about the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, please visit www.thefsegroup.com/thames-valley-berkshire-funding-escalator/ or contact Ian Baker firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 01276 608517.