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“I should have said that!” That regret was the starting point of In Your Face after its creator, Eve Ceccarelli, was sexually harassed by a guy in a bar.

Her proposed series of micro-shorts takes an empowering but humorous look at street harassment. It was pitched yesterday at the 29th edition of Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, France, the essential European co-production platform for animated television and new media projects. If the reaction at Cartoon Forum is any indication, there’s a lot of interest in the topic. A standing-room only crowd attended Ceccarelli’s pitch with the overflow crowd sitting on the stairs. Over two hundred thirty people, including 52 investors, listened to the presentation, the 7th-most attended pitch of the three-day event.

Here is the general concept of the series:

“Have you heard of street harassment? Those repetitive catcalls and unsavory remarks – you’re too fat, too black, too gay, in a too short skirt – have become harder and harder to miss. But why not give them an answer? Only out of politeness, of course!”

Cartoon Brew presents an exclusive first look at the In Your Face teaser that was presented at Cartoon Forum:

After her experience in the bar, Ceccarelli, 27, was better prepared to answer back the next time she experienced harassment. “It was a beautiful summertime night,” she remembers. “I was sitting on the Seine banks, in Paris. It was hot and I had no bra under my top. A guy, sitting close to me, was staring at my breast. After a few minutes, I told him, ‘You know, they are not going to answer to you!’ He was actually surprised, apologized, and went away.”

Ceccarrelli, a Gobelins and La Poudrière graduate who worked as a 2d animator on Funan, this year’s winner of the feature film Cristal in Annecy, searched online to read other testimonies of such responses. She found a French group, “Répondons” (“Let’s answer back”), had been created on Facebook and Tumblr.

“It was in 2016, before the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement,” she says. “The victims did not talk as openly as today. My male friends hardly believed that I was frequently harassed in the subway. So I decided to make a series about it.”

After trying to launch the project with other producers, she finally found the right partner: Doncvoilà. The Paris-based company founded in 2005 by Virginie Giachino and Joris Clerté, produces animated commercials, shorts (Cesar-nominated La nuit américaine d’Angélique), and webseries (La Petite mort). The company is very dynamic right now with three other television programs in the works, including Qui Quoi, a promising preschool adaptation of successful children’s books that was also pitched at Cartoon Forum this week.

In Your Face is intended for teenagers and adults. Each of the 30 episodes will be around 90 seconds, so that they can be shared more easily on social networks.

Ceccarelli would like to create a team of scriptwriters to find other stories. “I would like that would go beyond sexual harassment and feminism. In Your Face wants to be part of a global change of the way people interact with each other in the street. But we want to do it by using our weapon: humor.”

A couple of story set-ups were shown during the pitch. Here are two of those slides:

Segments from the proposed French series "In Your Face."
Segments from the proposed French series “In Your Face.”
Segments from the proposed French series "In Your Face."
Segments from the proposed French series “In Your Face.”

“While the stories are very realistic, the 2d animation will be more dramatic using pose to pose,” Ceccarelli says. “The graphic style is sketchy, maybe even ‘cartoonish’ if necessary,” adding that she would like to produce the series with Toon Boom Harmony.

Co-produced with Rémy Reboullet, of Bridges company, a Paris-based company that produces documentaries like the animated webseries Trucs de meufs (Girls Things) about women’s sexuality. In Your Face is budgeted at $440,000 USD (380,000 euros) for the 30 episodes, and can be delivered by the end of 2019.

The producers are currently looking for a broadcaster. They are aiming at Slash, the new France Télévisions online platform for young adults, or Canal+. “But we have international ambitions, says Virginie Giachino, “because In Your Face is not only for grumpy French people.”

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