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Vietnam's vibrant animation industry: Interview with Sylvain Grisollet from DeeDee Animation Studio

Sylvain Grisollet embraced his destiny by dedicating himself to the burgeoning animation industry in Vietnam as a Business Development Director.

Collaborating alongside talented and professional individuals at DeeDee Animation Studio, Sylvain has played a pivotal role in showcasing the studio's dynamism and professionalism, positioning it as a versatile producer of diverse animation styles on the global stage. What does Vietnam animation industry has to offer that captivated his heart? Join us as we delve into Sylvain’s journey in this enchanting realm through the following interview.

First step

What led you to pursue a career in the animation industry?

I actually got into animation unexpectedly. I have a background in Business Development and started my career working in totally different industries. In 2017, Toon Boom Animation, the leading animation and storyboarding software company, was looking for a representative in Southeast Asia, and I jumped on the opportunity. I represented Toon Boom for almost 6 years, supporting animation studios and educational institutions with their needs for software, training, and consulting. This experience with Toon Boom was the first step in my animation journey. I then transitioned to the production side by joining DeeDee Animation Studio in September 2022.

What do you enjoy most about working in this industry?

The animation industry is a really exciting industry to be in now. We’ve been in a sort of golden age of content for the past few years with the coming up of new content players, including platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, and Apple. But also comic book publishers, toy companies, and game developers who are now creating live-action and animated content to promote and expand their properties. More shows, including animated shows, have been commissioned than ever before.

And I see great potential for Vietnam and DeeDee Animation Studio to play a key role in the industry. Even though the animation industry is a young industry in Vietnam, the country has a large number of young talents who are also great creatives and are just waiting for an opportunity to step in. DeeDee aims to provide them with a platform to polish and improve their skills up to international - standards, access major international clients’ projects, as well as nurture their own show ideas that the studio can support as part of our new IP slate.

The Leap

Which of DeeDee’s projects do you find most appealing, and why?

Something special about DeeDee is that the studio does not only help clients with their own animated projects. Instead, we also aim to write and produce our own shows and bring them to market. Since DeeDee’s inception, its founders’ vision has been to create content for local and international audiences.

A great example of that is the new series for kids we are currently pitching, Jelly’s Bean. We are now 9 months into development with a show bible, a trailer, one full script and styleframes of episodes available, all of which are self-financed by the studio. I am personally in charge of pitching the show and finding potential development partners who could bring in financing and help us develop the show into a series. Jelly’s Bean is an idea that burgeoned internally, but DeeDee is also scooting for creators in Vietnam to find new ideas outside of the studio that we can develop and produce for an international audience.

What do you appreciate most about working for DeeDee? More generally, what do you appreciate about working in Vietnam ?

DeeDee really strives to provide the best environment possible for its team members, a place that represents their ideal of a studio, somewhere where they can unleash their creativity, work on challenging projects and have fun at the same time, and I really appreciate that.

The studio’s founders are down to earth, all 4 of them spend a significant portion of their time on the floor with the artists, and each single member of the team is cared for carefully. Our vision goes much wider than simply building up a successful and profitable business, instead we aim at bringing Vietnamese animation and animators onto the world stage – it’s no small feat but it is a very strong and heartful vision that fuels all who work at DeeDee.

For me it is extremely rewarding to be part of the DeeDee adventure. I have been in Vietnam for over 7 years now, I am also married to a Vietnamese. Vietnam is a great country that gets to be known, with kind people, beautiful scenery and amazing food culture. Helping DeeDee and its founders develop the studio, reach out to more international clients as well as pitch ideas originating from Vietnamese creators is the best way that I can, with my competences, give back to the country that I cherish.

Next Step

What advice would you give to those interested in running an animation company?

Producing animation and developing animated content is a pretty competitive business. There is a plethora of studios specialized in 2D, 3D or VFX who are looking to help clients with their projects, as well as many who are trying to get their own ideas produced and screened around the world. In my opinion, it is essential for a studio to know how to differentiate themselves from the crowd. To illustrate that I’ll take DeeDee as an example.

DeeDee positions as a creative animation studio rather than simply as a production studio. What does that mean? We provide an A-Z solution by helping our clients starting earlier in the process, a stage known as preproduction instead of coming in only into animation production. Based on our clients’ scripts we do visual development, character and environment designs, storyboards and then continue holding their hands through production until final picture. The fact that we are also developing IPs, for which we do every step of the process in-house at the studio, also reinforces our abilities to support our clients find creative solutions for their shows.

Another way DeeDee differentiates is by producing in any style, including North American cartoon style of animation, more artistic European style, realistic style, and even anime-inspired adult style (think Castlevania or Vox Machina).

What is your dream or the success you hope to achieve in the next few years?

We’re currently on the studio’s second 5-year plan. Our first 5-year plan consisted of building a company that is financially sustainable, bringing together a team of talented artists with the same great vision, acquiring a pool of loyal clients for our services, and producing high quality 2D animation with a broadcast-standard pipeline; and all objectives were met!

For the next 5 years, we’re going to continue building up our service pipeline to help more clients with their own productions; we’re aiming to be in a position to deliver large series (52 episodes and more) and feature films. We have also just branched into developing our own IPs for the international market (I mentioned our series for kids Jelly’s Bean above). Creating content has always been an integral part of DeeDee’s founders’ vision. The goal is to get at least one of our own IP series financed and produced with a major studio/platform/commissioner by 2026.


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