Style: Retro-inspired Flash and CGI animation
Format: 52 x 13 minutes
Demo: Six to 11
Budget: Between US$275,000 and US$350,000 per half hour
Status: The series bible, two scripts and an animation test are fully completed, and GO-N is close to signing a lead broadcaster in France. The team will be exploring international presale leads at MIPCOM.
Producer: Paris, France’s GO-N Productions, with freelance animation consultant Marion Edwards advising from her Red & Blue Productions offices in London, England.
Premise: Ever wonder what happened to all those animal test-pilots NASA and the Russian Space Agency shot into the cosmos back in the ’50s? Well, according GO-N’s first toon project, they all settled peaceably in a far-off galaxy and have evolved over the years into an advanced race of high-tech inventors.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the animatronic toy phenomenon’s true colors have been revealed. As it turns out, these seemingly cute mini-bots were actually android soldiers controlled by an omnipotent super-computer known as Number One, who’s bent on eliminating all warm-blooded life from the universe. Having checked Earth off their to-conquer list, the Animatronix set out to take over the animals’ tranquil colony, triggering an epic space conflict that would have made Gene Rodenberry proud.
To defend their turf, the animals band together and build an amazing fleet of space vehicles out of the archaic junk they arrived in. The crown jewel of this Space Federation is the Ark, a vast ship piloted by heroic Commander Clark, a direct descendent of Sputnik II’s famous spacedog Laika. Clark patrols the galaxy to keep the Animatronix threat in check, but his crew’s petty squabbles also keep him on his toes.
Style: Minimalist 2-D animation
Format: 52 x one minutes
Demo: Eight to 10
Budget: In the range of
Status: In development. Sardine is really close to signing a Canadian presale, but worldwide rights are still up for grabs.
Delivery: Spring 2006
Producer: Montreal, Canada-based Sardine Productions
Premise: Outside the U.S. (a market that clings to its half-hour formats like a security blanket), kidcasters have shown an increasing fondness for short series, which can help build stronger channel identities and more fluid schedules. To tap into this market trend, Sardine is introducing a cool new shorts project based on a series of picture books illustrated by Montreal artist Annie Groovies.
Groovies’ arresting muse is a one-eyed line-drawing of an eight-year-old boy who lives in a bizarre world that doesn’t conform to the laws of physics. Episodes center around Leon’s unique solutions to problems, which are as reasonable and logical as they are odd. For example, when he’s kept awake by the light of the full moon shining in through his bedroom window, Leon simply climbs a ladder up to the sky and shuts it off like a lamp. But as soon as he does, the sun comes on, which is even brighter! After thinking about the dilemma for a few seconds, Leon climbs back down to the ground and hunts for the extension cord he knows must be powering the sun. Triumphantly pulling the plug, he crawls back into bed and is just drifting off in the darkness when his alarm clock goes off to get him up for the day.
Growing Up Creepie
Style: 2-D animation
Format: 52 x 11 minutes
Demo: Six to 11
Budget: US$300,000 to US$325,000 per half hour
Status: The series is in production now, and Taffy’s sales team will be pre-selling it outside the U.S. at MIPCOM. Video rights are available in all territories.
Delivery: September 2006
Co-producers: An project concept co-created by The Story Hat (Dragon Booster also came out of this two-man Rhode Island shop), this co-pro involves L.A.’s Taffy Entertainment, Uxbridge, Massachusetts-based DAG and Discovery Kids US.
Premise: Although it stars a little girl who’s been raised by a family of insects, this toon’s inherent gross quotient should also help it attract a big swarm of boy viewers. The show opens with Creepie heading off to middle school, where she’s surrounded by humans for the first time. But her buggy upbringing immediately marks her as different, which is like the sting of a black widow spider for a kid who just wants to fit in. In one episode, for example, Creepie takes a stand and refuses to feed frozen insects to the classroom’s pet salamander. The teacher makes her study the behavior of the blue poison dart frog instead, but when Creepie brings the rare hopper home, her mother mistakes it for a gift and eats it! Luckily, insects regurgitate their food. So once the frog’s parts have been brought back up from the depths of mom’s crop, Creepie and her dad work through the night to put them back together again and bring him back to life.
Style: 2-D digital animation
Format: 26 x half hours
Demo: Seven to 11
Budget: Roughly US$275,000 to US$300,000 per episode
Status: Scripts are currently being hammered out, and Planet Nemo and
Subsequence is looking for a third co-producer and talking to broadcasters in France, the U.K. and Canada about presales. Pre-teen novels and a comic book series are in development for ’06.
Delivery: Q3 2007
Co-producers: Paris, France’s Planet Nemo Animation and Montreal, Canada’s Subsequence Entertainment
Premise: If you could channel the elements that made Fame such a hit in the early ’80s into an animated series, Groove High is probably what you’d end up with. This France/Canada co-pro is set in a performing arts school and revolves around a group of budding music and dance savants who question the extent of their talent at every turn. The toon stars a 14-year-old dance major who looks like she could step in for Pippi Longstocking more easily than perform in Swan Lake. But with the help of her friends, Zoe learns to rise above her red hair, freckles and flat chest to command center stage.
Style: 2-D animation
Format: 52 x 10 minutes
Demo: Six to 11
Budget: From US$250,000 to US$275,000 per half hour
Status: The animation hotshop is hammering out scripts and storyboards, and its execs will be at MIPCOM to find presales and co-pro partners.
Delivery: Spring/Fall 2007
Producer: Toronto, Canada’s Nelvana
Premise: Good writing is widely acknowledged as the bedrock of comedy toons, and with Richard Elliott and Simon Racioppa (the scribes behind Teen Titans, Dragon Booster and Totally Spies!) on board, Nelvana’s newest entry in the genre stands a good shot at getting picked up internationally. With faint existentialist overtones, the series is about a group of genetically altered animals who’ve been abandoned by their mad scientist creator on a remote island. Peri, a small and optimistic creature of indeterminable origin, teams up with tuna-chicken-pig-cow hybrid Entrée to try and settle the group into a humanistic way of life they don’t always understand.
In one episode, a bowling alley washes up on the beach and the two pals become obsessed with the game. They’re playing at all hours and annoying their fellow mutants to no end. But when an army of aliens shaped like bowling pins who just happen to march in formations of 10 invades the island, Peri and Entrée use their skills to strike the marauders down.
Editor’s note: The electronic version of this article has been edited from the original print version in order to correct or clarify some information that it contained.