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The origins of Napo
Napo is an original idea conceived by a small group of OSH communications professionals in response to the need for high quality information products to break down national boundaries and address the diverse cultures, languages and practical needs of people at work. The films are not designed to provide comprehensive coverage of a topic, nor should they be seen as training or teaching films. The role of Napo and his friends is to provide an appetiser to OSH through their engaging characters, amusing story lines, and their humorous and light-hearted approach. “Safety with a smile” is Napo’s contribution to safer, healthier and better workplaces. Each film is co-produced by a number of European Institutions. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in Bilbao, Spain has funded the development of the website.
The Film Consortium - HSE (UK); DGUV (Germany); INAIL (Italy); INRS (France); SUVA (Switzerland); and, AUVA (Austria) - emerged from the European Year of Safety and Health 1992/3, and the European Film Festival held in Thessaloniki in 1992.
The European Commission supported Film Festivals in the belief that it was possible to adapt the best videos for use throughout the European Union. This proved difficult. Many films are made by commercial production companies unwilling to give up their rights. Cultural differences mean that images, storylines and the ‘look and feel’ make it difficult to adapt and transfer films across national boundaries.
As a result, the Consortium met to discuss ways in which it might be possible to commission and produce videos for use across Europe. The Consortium is based on the personal interest and contribution of individuals, and not on any institutional basis.
The creation team
Napo films are written and directed by Eric Scandella for Via Storia
3D animation is produced by Fabrice Barbey for Protozoaire
The original music is composed by Henri Muller.
The birth of Napo
The Group put together a proposal, a specification and an Invitation to Tender to produce a video about safety signs, and identified two production companies from their own country who were invited to put forward a treatment. Via Storia, a French company from Strasbourg, won the contract. Napo was born!
The first video, Best Signs Story, featured at the EU Film Festival in Edinburgh in 1998, and won awards at the World Congress in Sao Paulo in 1999, and at national film festivals in France and Germany.
In 2003, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in Bilbao expressed interest in a third video to support the European Week and its theme of Dangerous Substances. An agreement was reached with the Consortium to enable the Agency to supply master copies of the video to all member states, candidate and EFTA countries with clear provisions on non-exclusive use, rights and costs. This collaboration has continued.
"The best way to use Napo is to think Napo"
The Napo series of films are produced in computer graphics. They feature characters in the world of work, faced with safety issues.
The main character, Napo, and his partners express themselves in wordless language. Their stories have an educational value. They provoke questions and stimulate debate on specific aspects of safety at work. Sometimes they provide practical solutions or lead to them.
It is this blend of education, cultural neutrality and humour set in a cartoon style that gives the "Napo" series its identity. Napo is a likeable but careless character. The universal language of Napo makes the films suitable for everyone. Each scene is independent of the others and can be used as one film, or individually.
Because Napo is a cartoon character he can explore areas that would not be possible in drama or documentary films. He is indestructible and everlasting, unlike the workers we are trying to protect.