France, already home to many of the world’s best animation schools, will soon get a new one. Sylvain Chomet Animation Academy — The SChool is due to open in the northern town of Bayeux in September 2020.

As the stylized spelling of its name suggests, The SChool is being launched by Sylvain Chomet, the renowned animator and director behind films like The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist. It will initially offer a three-year course. And there’s a twist: according to Chomet, this will be the first animation school in France that teaches some courses in English.

“From experience, whichever studio I have worked in or collaborated with, no matter where in the world — the common language is English,” the filmmaker tells Cartoon Brew. “Having The SChool being an English-speaking environment prepares students for this reality.”

The curriculum is straightforward. Its emphasis is on classic 2d animation. Students will have six hours of drawing lessons per week. In the first year, they’ll learn the principles of movement under Chomet — Disney techniques from the 1950s, as he puts it. Digital tools will come in the second year. In the third, students will make their graduation film.

Sylvain Chomet.
Sylvain Chomet.

“The goal is to secure employment, not to win a diploma,” adds Chomet. “In that way I tend to think of the course we’re offering as an apprenticeship rather than a formal education. My lecturing colleagues are all successful professionals who will continue to work in their areas of expertise as well as teaching at The SChool. They will be mentors, not teachers. They can show how it’s done — not just tell.”

Chomet moved to Bayeux partly for professional reasons — its proximity to the U.K. is important for his current projects. The town is best known for the Bayeux Tapestry, a vast embroidered cloth dating from the 11th century, which elaborately depicts the French Norman conquest of England. Not only does the tapestry draw hordes of British tourists, creating an Anglophone environment in the town, it may serve as artistic inspiration in itself: Chomet describes it as a kind of proto-storyboard.

For more information on The SChool, including biographies of its teaching staff, head to its official website.

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