When Mike Young told the industry about his company’s new distribution outfit Taffy Entertainment, some Europeans assumed it was just a play on his heritage since the word ‘taffy’ means a Welshman overseas. But Young swears the name is just a coincidence. He also promises it’s a fluke that Taffy will open its first international office in Cardiff, Wales this summer.
Announced on the heels of Taffy’s opening in L.A. this April, the Welsh office will serve as both a production studio that can take advantage of European tax incentives and subsidies, and as a distribution house to forge and maintain overseas relationships that are hard to manage from the U.S. MYP CFO Steven Rosen will work with the Wales team, which was just being set up at press time, to explore new co-production schemes and test all of the EU markets for venture capital interest.
The Taffy Entertainment office in Los Angeles, meanwhile, will strictly remain a distribution outfit. Headed up by VP of sales and administration Regis Brown, Taffy’s HQ will set out to develop relationships directly with broadcasters to place both MYP’s productions and third-party content.
Brown says it’s important for Taffy to open its U.K. office now because European broadcasters are ‘increasingly throwing up barriers to foreign product.’ With the days of creating an animated series exclusively for the U.S. market long gone, he says a program with a 100% American pedigree doesn’t have as much opportunity to air in Europe as would a co-produced EU show.
The first U.K.-based project to come out of the new Cardiff office will be I Got A Rocket, based on an Australian picture book by Matt Zurbo and Dean Gorissen. The CGI show for tweens will explore the out-there adventures of a young boy who gets the ultimate birthday gift from his dad: a cool, outer-space rocket.
Taffy is currently in co-development with Australia’s SLR Productions, and Brown says the 26 x half-hour show should cost about US$7.8 million to produce, with delivery penciled in for Q4 2005 or 2006. Taffy and SLR are presenting the series to broadcasters in order to secure commissions right now, and a pilot episode will be ready to screen at MIPCOM Jr.
As for Taffy’s budding catalogue, Schultz says the unit’s doors are open for acquisitions from both sides of the Atlantic. Strong character comedies for ages six to 11 and gender-neutral action-adventure toons are on the priority list ahead of preschool properties.