Monday, 25 July 2016

How to Survive Annecy Animation Festival

A few weeks back, I made my way to my first experience of the Annecy Animation festival, in a beautiful town in the south of France, called, funnily enough, Annecy.

How to Survive Annecy Animation Festival
Anyone who works in animation, will know about the festival. Everyone talks about it at some point in their career, and often with high reverence.

I've wanted to go for years, but the opportunity never came up, but this year, I was pretty chuffed to be invited along by the first training school that gave me a taste of the CG world, Escape Studios. They're in the process of launching a new animation course, and as their head of animation is Alex (my first animation tutor, from Animation Apprentice), it was the perfect way to experience the festival.

For most of the time, I was based at MIFA, which is like the business division of the festival. It's here that schools, colleges, technology and industry meet and present their projects and attract attention. There are hardly any screenings here, as they all take place in the main festival area about 10 minutes away...but I got a bit giggly when noticing that Disney were very close by, doing mini screenings about past and future productions. Strangely, they weren't that busy either, which seemed really odd to me, but as MIFA costs a lot more to get into than the "regular" festival, it would explain why traffic wasn't high.

One of the things that really hit me about being at Annecy, was the atmosphere. You keep bumping into so many people you know! It was a joy going out for a meal with colleagues, then heading to the pub and being able to chat to industry folk. It felt like networking on a super high level.

Believe it or not, I didn't get to any screenings. I tried queuing for stand-by tickets to Secret Life of Pets, but as the staff at Annecy are truly hopeless at any sort of queue management, many people were pushing in front of those who had waited a long while already, so the opportunity passed me by (...why hasn't Annecy perfected an organised way for "first come" to really mean, "first served"?). It was fun though trying to get into that particular screening, as french animation students staged a protest. To be honest, I didn't really understand it, something about their entry level job titles changing, bringing with that a lower starting pay rate. They were wearing plenty of orange, and chanting all sorts of frenchiness. Moreover, the one thing I loved about it, was although it was noisy, it was very peaceful.
I'm looking forward to going back another year. Annecy is a truly beautiful town with its vast, crystal clear lake. It's a truly wonderful holiday destination, with or without animation. When I go again, there are a few things I would do differently, so this is what I would recommend for next time:

1) Take an umbrella. 
It bucketed down with rain when I was there, so was very happy to have my trusty brolly with me. Don't be fooled into the thinking the weather will be perfect all the time! If you don't want an umbrella take a poncho!

2) Take something warm to wear. 
In the evenings, it can get chilly, but also if there's as much rain as there was at Annecy2016, it will be cold. Be prepared for crazy weather, even though typically the june weather is excellent.

3) Check the offical Annecy website for screening tickets
...sounds obvious, but going to the standby queues are unpredictable and might not necessarily be fruitful! In fact, they're pretty poor.

4) Snacks
Either take some sort of snack with you (energy bars, that sort of thing), or pick some up from the Monoprix supermarket shop in Annecy, and keep them on you. I found myself running around quite a bit, and inevitably kept missing lunch... or when I tried to buy lunch, I couldn't find anything I wanted. A little snack bar can keep you going until dinner, where you can enjoy some beautiful french yumminess.

5) Good shoes
You'll do lots of walking, so look after your feet.

and lastly...
6) Paper Airplanes!
Take paper for paper idea why this is a just is. Or just get one of these awesome paper airplane sheet book things...and show everyone how it's really done!

Were you there this year? What would be your Annecy survival tips be?

Marc x

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