Making the most of its Flash development expertise, fledgling production outfit Rumpus is gearing up for a very prolific year. The New York-based company is adding six new 26 x half-hour concepts to its pitch bag for MIPCOM this month, in addition to bringing back the four it shopped at MIP-TV–Princess Natasha, Kung Fu Academy, Dinoborgs and Kappa Mikey, which TV-Loonland has agreed to distribute worldwide–for a second round at the Palais. ‘We’re good creatively, and we can make stuff cheap,’ says Rumpus CEO Larry Schwarz. ‘Now we’ve got to sell it. It’s frustrating, but this will be our breakout year.’
All six new Flash-animated 2-D entries skew to the six to 12 set and are budgeted at around US$185,000 per ep. Leading off the sked is an action-adventure pitch called SKWOD that centers on four of North America’s top skateboarders as they compete in X-games across the globe–a handy cover for international anti-espionage agents. In one episode, SKWOD must track down the mastermind behind a plot to ruin the Winter Olympics before the opening ceremony.
‘This is a Saturday morning boys show,’ says Schwarz, and the style incorporates some rotoscope during action scenes. Ideally, actual stars on the skating circuit will voice the characters and provide stunt footage, but no deals have been signed yet.
Farm Family is about a down-and-out rural family called the Moonshines who are financially ruined in a dust storm and have to auction off their house–everything but the front door. Just when all is thought lost, a telegram arrives informing them that their long lost uncle has died and left them a huge tenement in the Big Apple. Happy to have a place to go, but not willing to abandon their country way of living, the Moonshines build the biggest vertical farm you’ve ever seen.
Spaghetti Western gave Schwarz and the Rumpus team a reason to carefully study episodes of Bonanza and old western movies. ‘The trailer we’re doing is kind of an homage to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,’ says Schwarz. Otherwise dubbed as The Sopranos meets Bonanza for kids, Spaghetti Western is about the Pecoraros, a 19th century Sicilian family that has been forced to leave Italy during a pasta famine. They don’t really settle into the Wild West mentality, nor are the residents of Palermo, Montana fully ready for the first Italian cowboys. Hilarious culture clashes ensue.
Schwarz describes Stan, Dingle and Wally’s Follies as Memento for kids in that it begins with an intriguing ending, and then gradually moves backwards, scene by scene, to the initial catalyst. For instance, one ep opens with three perplexed-looking clowns standing in a desolate and seemingly post-apocalyptic landscape. How did they get there? On the hunt for Philly cheese steak sandwiches, the clowns came across what looked like an ancient treasure map–in actuality, a kid in the restaurant had been doodling on a placemat map, spilt some pop on it (making it look old), and then threw it away. The clown trio followed the map to what they believed to be the jackpot spot and began digging. But the excavation took place right beside a gas main, which caused a giant explosion and the desolation from the opening scene.
Ellen’s Acres is about a girl whose family owns a strip motel in Nevada. ‘Her only friends are a tire and a feather duster,’ says Schwarz, so Ellen pretends she’s a movie star, an astronaut, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, etc., dreaming up grand adventures involving all of the guests.
In Earth Dog, the exceedingly bored inhabitants of planet Zmed set out to appropriate Earth’s leader to help them remake their planet into a snazzier and more exciting place to live. Who’s Earth’s leader? He’s the one that everyone follows, right? So the aliens kidnap a dog being chased by a flock of dogcatchers. He immediately sets about putting his own unique stamp on the foreign planet… gigantic fire hydrants and all.