Spencer piques interest of XD and RAI
Fueled by development cash from Disney XD, French studio Alphanim-Gaumont is pouring every ounce of testosterone it has into Spencer, a 2-D animated slapstick comedy about a gregarious skater-boy who inherits a guardian angel with a little edge when he relocates to Hollywood with his family.
The 11-year-old protagonist of the 52 x 11-minute series moves into a luxe mansion inhabited by the ghost of rock star Dirk, an old-school headbanger whose over-the-top theatrical costume changes and do-or-die rock n’ roll attitude make him a great comic foil for the more down-to-earth Spencer. Having lived his entire life as a hard-partying, spoiled celebrity, Dirk isn’t accustomed to helping others, so his efforts to guide Spencer through various life lessons and growing pains are pretty farcical.
Creating even more obstacles and misunderstandings for the episodes’ plot lines are Spencer’s wacky family, which include his Mom, a hairstylist/charity junkie, his Dad, a straight-laced accountant and home renovating failure, and his little sister Jessica, a goth and aspiring clairvoyant, who ironically, can’t see the deceased rock star at all. Among the other ghostly inhabitants in the house are Dirk’s dog, Killer, and Madame X, the celeb’s biggest fan and spirit stalker.
In addition to Disney XD, Alphanim-Gaumont has secured funding from RAI and Italian animation studio Laterna Magica. Early development on the US$9.3-million series is almost done, and production is scheduled to start toward the end of the summer with a delivery goal of fall 2010.
Wish Films steers Florrie’s Dragons into the fast lane
With Wibbly Pig well into production with Toronto, Canada’s 9 Story Entertainment, Wish Films has turned its attention back to another book-based project that came up through the development ranks at the same time, but was relegated to the backburner for a bit when Wibbly took off first.
Based on the Dear Dragon book series by Belgian children’s author/illustrator An Vrombaut, Florrie’s Dragons is a 52 x 10-minute 2-D series for three- to six-year-olds about a precocious little princess who lives in a magical kingdom rife with friendly dragons. There’s Toot Toot the musical dragon, Splish Splash the water-born dragon, dancing dragonettes Pom and Pom, and Zoom Zoom the heroic flying dragon. And Florrie’s best friend in the whole world is Dear Dragon, who blows bubbles instead of breathing fire, and is gifted with the power to dazzle and enchant.
In one episode, Florrie and Dear Dragon are bummed about having to do boring chores around the castle. It doesn’t take long before they come up with imaginative ways to get the jobs done using the dragons’ unique talents. Dear Dragon’s bubbles get the dishes washed and dried in half the time, for example, and Toot Toot’s music helps the garden grow lickety-split. Wish’s Will Brenton explains that the main thread of the show is about kids using their strengths and realizing their self-worth and value in the process.
Wish Films enlisted South Africa-based animation studio Clockwork Zoo to build the series’ background and assets using Toon Boom, which Brenton says gives the storybook aesthetic a very textured style. Already well-schooled in TV production from creating and developing 64 Zoo Lane with Millimages, Vrombaut has signed on to direct Florrie’s Dragons, which is budgeted at US$4.7 million. She also has plans to grow the publishing program by basing future Dear Dragon books on the TV series. Wish is working to bring Studio100 Media in as a distribution partner, but the prodco has already closed presales with Disney UK, SRK and NRK in Scandinavia and SABC in South Africa, and has a fall 2010 delivery date in mind.