Shaftesbury Films is thinking young. The Toronto, Canada-based company, which has traditionally just dabbled in the kids genre with shows like Screech Owls (2000) and films such as Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang (1999), has added two new kids projects to its 2003 slate. Suzanne French, AAC Kids’ former VP of production, says Shaftesbury’s goal is to produce two or three kids projects a year, most of which will be live-action comedies or dramas for the six to 10 demo.
On deck first for that demo, however, is a 2-D animated series called Mischief City, based on a same-name book by Canadian author Tim Wynne-Jones. Being produced in association with YTV, the 13 x half-hour show is about the life of an imaginative every-tween named Winchell, who flits between his reality and a rich fantasy world that’s populated by magical monsters and his partner-in-adventure Maxine. Canadian Television Fund money will cover 16% of Mischief’s US$225,000 per-episode budget, and Shaftesbury is currently in negotiations with a Canadian animation house to handle the 2-D rendering work. As with all of Shaftesbury’s projects, Oasis International will be distributing Mischief, which is slated to head into production later this year.
Working with Family Channel, Shaftesbury is also developing a 13 x 30-minute live-action comedy for seven- to 12-year-olds that spoofs the reality TV genre. Created by Michael McGowan (Henry’s World), Fake Frontier centers around a group of kid contestants on a reality TV show in which they have to survive in the bush for two months. The kids’ lives are made worse by the show’s villain – a ratings-obsessed producer who is constantly manipulating their environment to boost viewership.
Budgeted at between US$260,000 and US$290,000 an episode, Fake Frontier is at the bible stage, and Shaftesbury will begin shopping the show to potential co-pro partners in Australia and Europe this spring.