Hoping that its live-action comedy expertise will cross over to the animated realm, British indie producer Tiger Aspect is forming an animation division. The toon unit of the outfit behind long-running adult hits Mr. Bean and Blackadder will be headed up by Claudia Lloyd, a five-year Tiger veteran who most recently served as TA’s creative director of comedy and entertainment. She is gearing up on five brand-new projects targeting both kids and adults.
The conception of the division was an organic process, Lloyd explains. The studio was fielding many high-quality pitches that the creative team felt, for many reasons, would be better suited to an animated treatment than a live-action one. Bean–The Animated Series (a US$14-million co-pro with Hungary-based Varga Group that will start airing Sunday evenings on ITV this month) is a good example. The existing live-action series worked really well for an adult audience, but an animated version, unfettered by the restraints inherent to live action, would allow the prodco to explore new farcical story lines and position the property for a younger demographic.
Another kid-targeted project on the animated slate is Earth Kid, a 26 x half-hour series in development with New York’s Cartoon Pizza. Aimed at kids ages six to 12, the futuristic toon is set in a prestigious school for space exploration and colonization. An 11-year-old boy named Frampton is the only human pupil in a sea of genetically engineered life forms, including Cowboy (half cow, half boy) and Conchita (a tiny Hispanic girl with a slot in her forehead).
Earth Kid will cost slightly more than US$7.8 million to produce, and if Lloyd can nail down a greenlight from one of the broadcasters with which she’s negotiating, the series could be ready by June 2003.
As for future kids projects, Lloyd says she wants highly-produced, highly-scripted characters that can drive a long-running story line. She cites The Flintstones as her ideal, and says she is not interested in preschool because that market is too flooded to support many new entries. The unit’s output schedule is flexible and will largely be determined by the projects it picks up. ‘We spend a long time in development–maybe two years–and we put our own money into it, so we’re not in any rush to pump out projects,’ says Lloyd.