Underdogs become superheroes in Miniavengers
The schoolyard can be a cruel world, populated by bullies whose relentless teasing makes many kids feel like total misfits. But in Miniavengers, a Futurikon/Teletoon co-pro for kids six to eight, a handful of these hapless recess victims discover superpowers in the very same characteristics that singled them out for ridicule. Each episode features the plight of one character and his transformation from geek to hero. In the end, bullies are put in their places, peer respect is re-established, and the Miniavengers learn to love themselves, faults and all.
There’s Oliver the calf, who’s such a wallflower that he’s often forgotten or pushed around, but he wins the day with the power of invisibility. And John the absent-minded panda is so forgetful that he leads his classmates astray on a star-gazing outing in the woods, and is shunned because of it. When his superpower kicks in, his head detaches from his body and floats high enough to show him the way to his friends and the best spot for observing the cosmos.
The concept for the show springs from a 2003 French book called Les Mini-justiciers, written by popular French comic book writer Zep and Titeuf scribe Hélène Bruller. Paris-based Hachette Jeunesse is the publisher and has printed 80,000 copies to date. A new companion publishing program for the series is now in the works encompassing mini-books that are each dedicated to a different Miniavenger.
Not wanting to mess with a good thing, Paris-based Futurikon has commissioned Zep and Bruller to write the new books as well as the scripts for the 78 x seven-minute animated series, which comes to the table with a budget of US$8.7 million. Delivery is scheduled for June 2008, and deals have been inked with TF1 and TPS (France), Noga Communications (Israel), distributor Ares Media (Turkey) and TSR (Switzerland) so far.
Animated drama Ballybradden banks on Irish charm and sports appeal
While most animation purveyors targeting kids gravitate towards comedy, Dublin-based Monster Animation has opted to go down the road less traveled. Its latest project is an animated drama for the six to 12 set called Ballybradden, based on the trials and tribulations of school life in a small town in Western Ireland, with a finer focus on the school’s hurling team (an Irish sport similar to field hockey).
The overarching story of the first season hinges the team’s long-awaited shot at stealing the championship from the rival school across the river. Like all dramas, the show will lean heavily on strong dialogue, but another element of appeal comes in the form of high-octane animated hurling sequences. The idea is to reach a balance between exploring complex social relationships and lightening things up with fast-paced sports action.
Irish pubcaster RTE is already on-board to help develop the 26 x 11-minute toon, putting up 80% of the US$3.8-million budget. Irish tax funds are also committed to the project, so the heat is on to get pre-production completed, leading into full production in January for a fall 2008 delivery. Though RTE’s contribution will cover roughly 13 to 18 episodes, Monster needs a full 26 to lock in international sales, so the team is looking to secure some foreign presales to fund the tail-end of the series. Monster MD Gerard O’Rourke sees Ballybradden as being a good fit for
territories like Canada, the UK and Australia, all of which have been known to import dramas.