Co-producers: London, England’s Red & Blue Productions and Dot to Dot Productions
Premise: Boasting the best preschool back-story we’ve heard lately, Claude is about a three-year-old polar bear whose entire family is uprooted from its natural Arctic home when big business beckons – an ordeal that many youngsters can identify with these days. Claude’s dad, who develops new flavors for an ice cream manufacturer, is relocated from Little Snowington to the sunny beach town of Bearhampton when the company sets about trying to expand into new markets. And just like that, Claude is a fish out of water.
He knows all about things like ice pops, sledding and his favorite TV hero Super Yeti. But none of these creature comforts exist in Bearhampton, and Claude – the only polar bear in town – must adjust to a whole new lifestyle. He’s aided by his street-smart neighbor Boris, a brown bear around Claude’s age who’s lived in Bearhampton his whole life. And luckily, the townfolks are open to trying new things, so Claude is able to teach them a trick or two. In one story that the partners are toying with, Claude is the odd bear out on Sports Day because he doesn’t know how to jump rope or run a sack race. But when he grabs his trusty sled and streaks down a slick grassy hill, the crowd goes wild and a new sport is born.
Claude is based on a pair of books by renowned kids illustrator David Wojtowycz that hit U.K. retail in 2000 and 2001. The books have enjoyed a limited worldwide publishing life, which may be reinvigorated if the television series takes off.
Style: Stylized 2-D animation
Format: 52 x 10 minutes
Budget: US$250,000 to US$275,000 per half hour
Status: In development, with scripts and story lines on track to be finished before MIPTV. The partners are working on securing a lead broadcaster in the U.K. and some international presales in order to move the project into production next year.
Producer: The Story Hat, based in Barrington, Rhode Island
Premise: An army of toy-sized warriors from a quantum universe breaks into our world one night and spills out into the bedroom of an unsuspecting 14-year-old named Devin. Having depleted all of their energy resources, these heavily armed invaders plan to steal enough juice from Earth to bring through the rest of their forces and take over the planet. A bedraggled band of rebels is desperately trying to stop this war, but they need to find a major power source in a hurry. They discover the potency of ‘kid energy’ by accidentally tapping into Devin’s body as they strike back, but Devin shrinks down to quark size in the process. Anxious to get back to his normal stature (which is a little shorter than average at the best of times), Devin uses his energy and his knowledge of the bedroom terrain to help the rebels send General Zar and his evil minions back from whence they came…at least for the time being.
Zar is determined to conquer Earth, and he launches new assualts all the time – usually at really inopportune moments such as during an important test or in the middle of Sunday dinner. To make sure the rebels are protected and ready to fend off future attacks, Devin recruits his closest friends and forms Team Q.W.A.R.K. (Quantum Worlds Alliance of Rebels and Kids). The kids tote the rebels with them everywhere in covert new vehicles built out of old toys and electronics.
Style: 2-D animation
Format: 26 x half hours
Demo: Five to 11
Budget: US$375,000 to US$500,000 per half hour
Status: In late development, with a two-part pilot script nearly completed. Story Hat partners Kevin Mowrer and Rob Travalino are talking to U.S. broadcasters and potential master licensing partners.
Co-producers: London, England’s MacKinnon and Saunders, with production partners A Productions (based in Bristol) and Paris, France’s Kayenta Production
Premise: Did you know that long before he successfully jolted his infamous monster to life, Dr. Frankenstein started off experimenting on his pets? And one of his biggest botch-jobs – a hyperactive and perpetually stinky cat named Nine, whose stitched-on limbs have a habit of falling off – is the star of this new comedy toon created by Bob the Builder’s production designer Curtis Jobling.
Even in Oddsburg, Nine has trouble fitting in, and he always seems to be working someone’s last nerve. In one episode, Butler confiscates Nine’s legs when the cat’s muddy paws besmirch his clean floors for what seems like the thousandth time. The good doctor promises to fix Nine up, but he’s run out of cat legs. So he tries spider legs, bat wings and stilts – all of which are also snatched by Butler when Nine uses them to get up to mischief like climbing the walls and swooping down from the ceiling to frighten Cook. The doctor finally hits on success with a set of lightning-fast wheels, which also help Nine’s only friend Lottie. As the solitary little girl in a town full of boys, Lottie is even more of a misfit than Nine, and she’s dying to enter Oddsburg’s Annual Go-Kart Race. But the pink girlie kart her dad builds for her doesn’t even survive the practice run, so Nine steps in with his speedy new appendages to help her win the race.
Style: 2-D digital animation
Format: 26 x 11 minutes
Demo: Six to nine
Budget: US$4.1 million
Status: In development. M&S and Kayenta are in talks with broadcasters in their respective countries, and the series should head into production by early 2006.
Producer: Vancouver, Canada’s Jibber Jabber Entertainment, with kidcaster YTV on-board as a development partner
Premise: Kids’ imaginations usually spawn some pretty kooky takes on reality – from bogeymen in the closet, to witches living in the weird house on the corner. But think how much stronger these fantasies would be if they were fuelled by the minds of twin boys. Meet Jibber and Jabber, seven-year-old fraternals who tend to lose themselves completely in their make-believe world – until they’re jolted back into the here-and-now by their older sister and babysitter Jessica.
In the first ep, ‘Mission to Mars,’ they hear a reporter talking about exploring the Red Planet and rush to build a NASA-worthy spaceship. Fantasy sequences show the audience this rocket as the boys see it in all its aerodynamic perfection. But then the show sharp-cuts to a reality segment from Jessica’s perspective, in which the spaceship is shown as it actually is – a soggy cardboard box festooned with duct tape.
Style: Stop-motion clay animation, with some 2-D illustrated backgrounds for the twins’ fantasy lives
Format: 52 x 11 minutes
Demo: Six to 13
Budget: Roughly US$400,000 per half hour
Status: In development with presales pending. Creator David Bowes is hoping to head into production in early 2006, although the right broadcast commitment could bump up the process.
Delivery: First episodes could be ready for September 2006, with a staggered delivery of the full run.
Colin The Invincible
Co-producers: South Korea’s CharacterPlan and a new London, England-based firm called White Rabbit Entertainment, launched in February by former Atomic Entertainment principals Adam Selly and Sean O’Kelly.
Premise: Brainy Prince Colin would rather invent futuristic gadgets than slay dragons, and his sister Trix is happier jousting than arranging flowers. If they lived in a more progressive era, this would be swell, but bucking gender stereotypes in medieval times is a bit trickier. King Geoffrey, an admittedly old-fashioned monarch, is all about preserving tradition. He’s fixated on the idea that his son must protect the kingdom from all threats, and his daughter must simply look pretty and attract a lot of suitors.
Colin and Trix aren’t having any of it, but it’s easier to keep their dad in the dark than suffer through endless lectures that always seem to begin with ‘In my day…’ So the siblings work in secret together to keep up appearances and keep the kingdom safe, with Colin using his smarts to accomplish tasks like hunting for treasure and rescuing damsels, and Trix applying her skills with weaponry when physical challenges such as duels and dragons pop up. And as long as they can stay one step ahead of their nosy Uncle Lanceabit (a jealous relation with pretensions to the throne), no one will be any the wiser.
Style: 2-D animation
Format: 26 x 15 minutes
Demo: Four to nine
Budget: US$3.5 million
Status: In early development. Corsham Entertainment’s Alastair Swinnerton, whose credits include The Tale of Jack Frost, is co-developing the concepts and writing story lines and scripts.
Producer: South Korea’s Ocon Animation Studios
Premise: This gorgeous CGI show revolves around a motley crew of homemade puppets and dolls living in a village called Cozy Land, but what makes it stand out is its snuggly textured style. The characters have been designed to reflect the warm and wooly fabrics they’re made of, with rough stitching and yarn hair to complete the effect. It almost feels like you could reach into the screen and give these puppets a gentle squeeze!
The hero of the series is Dibo the deliveryman, an eternally cheerful dinosaur who gives out little presents from a zippered pocket in his chest. These gifts, which are often used in surprising ways, always seem to be exactly what the inhabitants of Cozy Land need to solve their problems. The supporting cast includes a somewhat vain bunny, a clumsy baby elephant, a nerdy crow and a motherly ragdoll who’s obsessed with cooking.
Style: Puppet-esque CGI animation
Format: 26 x 11 minutes
Budget: US$3.5 million
Status: In production
Delivery: February 2006
MP4orce: Beyond Real
Producer: Germany’s BFC Berliner Film Companie
Premise: This concept centers around four kid on-line gamers who suddenly turn into their superhero avatars in the middle of an intense playing jag. It turns out the game’s villain, Tenebrous, is sick of always being outscored and figures he’d stand a better chance of beating the kids in the real world. He escapes the confines of the game – and unwittingly frees the kids’ in-game alter egos at the same time – by convincing a less than scrupulous kid player named Damian Darkstone (whose avatar is Devlan13) to use a special cheat code that opens up a gateway to reality. Working together, Tenebrous and Devlan13 come up with a scheme to transform the world into a virtual game, and the MP4orce team must master their newfound sonic superpowers to stop them.
In each episode, Tenebrous and Devlan13 use cheat codes to bring through a new game level and transform a patch of real-world landscape – i.e. the city becomes a virtual swamp or tropical island. Aiming for the highest score and rights to the real-estate they’re playing on, MP4orce searches the level for cheat codes and high-tech vehicles and devices to help them win.
BFC is developing MP4orce as an interactive multi-platform property that will encompass a TV series, a multi-player video game, a web community and a range of SMS messaging applications and mobile phone downloads.
Style: 2-D animation, with 3-D vehicles and gadgets
Format: 13 x half hours initially, with an eye to growing the run to 26 or 39 episodes to suit broadcasters’ scheduling needs.
Demo: Six to 13
Budget: US$425,000 per half hour
Status: MP4orce is 100% financed and in production. Seven scripts are finished, six are recorded, and the BFC team is into full design and boarding. A 3.5-minute promo will introduce broadcasters to the property at MIPTV.
Delivery: September 2005