Bejuba! may be a made-up word that Tatiana Kober’s nine-year-old niece yells when she’s cheering on her favorite NHL hockey team, but as the name of her new company, Kober also hopes it’s one that producers and broadcasters will quickly come to associate with high-quality children’s TV.
Former managing director of the now-defunct Egmont Imagination, Kober launched Bejuba! Entertainment in June to specialize in corralling financing for small- to medium-sized producers, and she’ll be using MIPCOM as a coming-out party of sorts.
Given her international distribution background and involvement in raising financing for well-known shows like ABC-TV/Southern Star’s Tracey McBean and Discovery’s Paz, Kober thinks she can serve as a useful link between producers with good ideas and broadcasters and distributors who can fund them. ‘I have a good grasp of what international broadcasters are looking for. A producer may have done a show that’s great for Canada, but if they change x or y, they can also make it work for France or Germany. That’s where I can help.’
Kober says she’s looking for interesting projects first and foremost, regardless of genre or target demo. The series on her priority list that appears closest to finding broadcast placement is The Amazing Adrenalini Brothers, a Flash-animated show from U.K.-based Pesky. Initially developed with Egmont, Adrenalini was commissioned by the BBC as a series of shorts last year, and was also picked up by Nickelodeon (U.S.), ABC-TV (Australia) and Canal J (France).
Kober is hoping to find enough funding to develop the show (which follows the slapstick adventures of three accident-prone circus performers) into a full-length, 13 x half-hour series. But because the characters talk in an unintelligible language called Rendoosian, Pesky is considering splitting episodes into 11-minute segments and adding shorts that feature characters who speak English or some other widely known language. ‘We figure 30 minutes of characters talking Rendoosian might get a little tedious,’ says Kober, adding that Pesky is also considering developing shorts that would teach kids some key Rendoosian phrases.
Another project that came with Kober from Egmont is 13 x half-hour edutainment series Inky. Based on an original concept from Norwegian studio Greenway Productions, it’s a CGI/live-action series about an animated octopus who explores underwater life in a submarine with his many friends. Kober is working to secure some funding from the United Nations, which would like to use Inky as its mascot to raise environmental awareness among kids. So far, NRK (Norway) and YLE (Finland) have come aboard as co-production partners, but Kober says she’s still scouting for a Canadian studio to produce the show’s CGI segments.
Other projects Kober is working on include: King Rollo Films’ Hovig (65 x five minutes), a preschool series about an overly precocious dog that’s in early development; and The Touch, a tween-targeted live-action series (13 x half hours) from Toronto, Canada-based Tapas Productions about a teen girl with psychic abilities. So far, the series, which is based on a book by Canadian author Cora Taylor, has received some funding from diginet BBC Canada, but Kober is still looking for additional production partners.
Splitting her time between L.A. and Toronto, Kober is also consulting for National Geographic Television and Film, and will be helping kids programming and production president Donna Friedman Meir identify potential European partners for future Nat Geo productions.