Welsh toonhouse Siriol asks Are We There Yet?
Long car rides are never boring for six-year-old Milly, the lead character in Are We There Yet?, a new 26 x 10-minute live-action/CGI series for six- to eight-year-olds from Cardiff, Wales-based Siriol Productions. Rather than succumbing to in-transit boredom, Milly uses her imagination to go on animated adventures that build on what she sees on the road. For example, when she drives past a row of cooling towers, Milly’s mind turns them into huge cooking pots in a giant’s kitchen. And when she’s in the car wash, Milly becomes a member of the Bubble Age, when soapy suds covered the Earth. The bubble leader almost makes her wash her hair (ew!), but she saves the day by bursting his bubble with the tip of her crown. In every episode, however, Milly’s made-up worlds take a backseat to reality when her dad utters the magic phrase, ‘Almost there.’
Status: Siriol is pitching the US$2.6-million series to U.K. broadcasters and is looking for foreign presales and partners.
Red Kite flies high with living embodiment of evil
Edinburgh, Scotland’s Red Kite Animation is exploring the darker side of a cute, monochromatic character in its new tween-targeted project Imp De Negro. Imp believes himself to be the great evil ruler of a powerful cult of devoted disciples; but in fact, he’s quite paranoid and ineffectual, weaknesses that are subtly exploited by Imp’s good-hearted and long-suffering brother Bob to keep him from going over the evil edge. Filmed in pure black and white, the striking 2-D/3-D hybrid series really comes to life through Imp’s ridiculously inflated sense of self-importance.
In one episode, he becomes highly agitated about his height when he realizes he’s shorter than Bob. Gearing up for a big date, Imp attaches a spike to his head in order to appear taller. But the spike is so big that he can’t fit through doors, and he ends up knocking himself down repeatedly. Despite all the physical comedy, Imp thinks the spike is a great idea – until his date gives him the bum’s rush for being too tall!
Status: Red Kite is looking for co-pro partners and presales in all territories to get the 26 x 11-minute comedy series off the ground. The toon is budgeted at roughly US$150,000 per ep.
Futurikon expects big buzz for Minuscule
The secret lives of bugs will get the silent treatment in Futurikon’s documentary-esque CGI series Minuscule. Save for some buzzing and the fluttering of little wings, the series’ cast of spiders, ladybugs and flies doesn’t speak a word. Instead, simulating the effect of a single handheld camera, the show silently follows as the creepy-crawlies explore their real-life environments – with some slapstick comedy to keep the six- to 11-year-old target audience giggling, of course. In one episode, a spider spies a fly feasting on the insides of a jam jar that’s been overturned at a picnic. Spidey makes a run for the easy prey but slams into the jar’s clear glass, much to the amusement of the fly, who struggles to eat jam while laughing at his eight-legged predator.
Status: Futurikon would like to deliver the US$6-million show in Q3 2005, and is looking to partner with German, French, English or U.S. companies. Episodes are seven minutes long.
Marathon’s crime-fighting misfits deliver yuks – and noodles
Three co-managers of a noodle bar work hard to protect the weak, fight crime and serve dinner in Marathon’s latest animated comedy The Squad. An ex-hippie grandmother who dresses like a teenager, an obsessive-compulsive cat with superpower hairballs and a Bollywood expert with good karma on his side use their restaurant as a home base for fighting baddies and serving up slapstick laughs. In one episode, a neighboring restaurateur is convinced that the noodle shop is poaching his business. So he spikes the rival eatery’s dishes with genetically modified seaweed, causing an allergic reaction that turns the city’s mayor into a destructive monster. The Squad takes down the mayor-beast superhero-style and then whips up a heaping helping of antihistamine-laced noodles to subdue him.
Status: The first of 52 11-minute episodes should be ready for delivery in March 2006. Marathon is courting U.S. and Canadian financiers outside of Cartoon Europe to help fund the US$8.7-million series for the six to 11 set.
Millimages morphs a geek into a god
The makers of Corneil & Bernie are playing on the modern kid appeal of alter egos in new 2-D toon Dan & Mr. Perfect. The series’ protagonist uses his aptitude for computer science to morph himself into Jack, a boy who’s invited to all the parties and loved by all the cute girls in school. But the metamorphosis isn’t permanent, and Dan often has to dash suddenly or risk revealing his real identity. When Dan is tired of being the benchwarmer at soccer games, he morphs into Jack, whose amazing leaps and fancy footwork helps his team sail into the finals. But in the middle of the gold-medal game, Dan starts to revert back to his natural state and must run off the field before the final whistle sounds. Without his skills, the opposing team quickly evens up the score. Short a body because of Jack’s abrupt departure, the coach sends Dan into the game and he ends up scoring the deciding goal as himself.
Status: Millimages is in negotiations with major broadcasters in France, Germany and the U.K. for this 52 x 13-minute, US$7-million series.
Icon rescues Happily Ever After in new toon
Once upon a time, there was a sleeping beauty who didn’t know she was supposed to wake up when the handsome prince leaned down and kissed her lips. Luckily, an eight-year-old cop is on the case in Land of the Once Upon A Time to keep classic fairy tales on track. And there’s a lot of potential for derailment in Icon Animation’s new Flash-animated series Sandra the Fairy Tale Detective. For example, Sandra launches an investigation when Cinderella’s glass slipper gets swiped before the prince can get to it. She uses her wits to crack the case and return the shoe before anyone’s the wiser.
Status: Millimages, Spanish broadcaster TVE and Village Productions are sponsoring the 26 x half-hour project’s trip to Cartoon Forum this year. The US$6.7-million series will be delivered in September 2007 if Icon succeeds in bringing on the French, Canadian and Italian partners it needs to complete the financing picture.