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Stella Takes the Stage
Co-producers: New York's Little Airplane Productions and Toronto-based Spin Master Entertainment
Style: Theater arts animation
Format: 52 x 11 minutes
Demo: Three to five
Budget: between US$375,000 and US$400,000/half hour
Status: In early development. The co-producers are in the process of hashing out storylines, character design and a bible.
Delivery: 2011
October 1, 2009

Stella Takes the Stage
Co-producers: New York’s Little Airplane Productions and Toronto-based Spin Master Entertainment
Style: Theater arts animation
Format: 52 x 11 minutes
Demo: Three to five
Budget: between US$375,000 and US$400,000/half hour
Status: In early development. The co-producers are in the process of hashing out storylines, character design and a bible.
Delivery: 2011

Concept: This unique preschool series marks new territory for its creator Josh Selig, president of Little Airplane. It’s the company’s first-ever co-production and just the second for toyco offshoot Spin Master Entertainment. And in keeping with the pioneering theme, Selig’s planning on crafting a new style of animation to execute the adventures of charismatic, gutsy six-year-old Stella as she turns to the stage to share her experiences and tales of personal triumph with kid viewers. After the bouncy Klezmer-style theme song intros each episode, Stella takes her stage to tell viewers about a very big event she’s got planned that day, which could be anything from taking a trip to a bagel factory to trying out for the T-ball team. The curtain on the set stage lifts and the scene unfolds against stylized, two-dimensional theatrical backgrounds. Stella and the other characters, meanwhile, will be rendered in a more realistic 3-D style. While participating in the on-stage action, Stella also plays the role of stage manager à la Our Town, integrating narration into the show’s overall narrative – also something of a new approach for preschool TV. As for the animation, Selig intends to use the conventions of stagecraft – including set changes, theatrical lighting and scrims – that reference historical productions for a fluid telling of Stella’s stories. For example, if there’s an episode about bird watching, its sets might be influenced by Swan Lake and they’ll appear seamlessly behind Stella as she begins to relate her adventure. Underpinning the series is a curriculum that emphasizes the importance of self-knowledge aimed at helping kids figure out what skills and qualities they possess and how they want to use them.

Production will be carried out entirely at Little Airplane’s New York studio and both partners are equally involved in development. Given Spin Master’s toy connection, a consumer products program is on the table.But SM executive producers Matt Wexler and Jennifer Picherack say it will be addressed after the creative and artistic direction of the series is entirely set.

www.littleairplane.com, www.spinmaster.com

Goon Holler
Producer: Brea, California’s The Magic Store
Style: Five-minute 2-D animated shorts mixed with live-action segments
Format: 26 x 22 minutes
Demo: Six to 11
Budget: US$350,000/half hour or less, depending where it’s produced
Status: The team at The Magic Store is currently gauging broadcaster and co-production partner interest; it has a bible and a few ‘Goon’ toons ready to go
Delivery: Depends on which broadcasters come on-board

Concept: As the makers of Nick Jr. hit Yo Gabba Gabba! step into production on the third season of the energetic preschool series, they’re going after an older audience with the next project on their development slate, Goon Holler. This one’s the brainchild of Parker Jacobs, art director at the prodco and younger brother to Gabba co-creator Christian Jacobs. Parker came up with the idea that spawned the world of the Goon Holler, located in the imaginary state of Burgertucky, when he started drawing bedtime stories on the fly for his daughter about four years ago. Since then, the concept’s been fleshed out to create a series that harkens back to classic kids shows like Howdy Doody and The Mickey Mouse Club, where cartoons get screened in front of a lively kids audience. The kids will also get to participate in wacky games, sing-a-longs and even heckle guest stars. The animated shorts, for their part, depict the offbeat habitat of Goon Holler, a place that plays on Appalachian (a.k.a. Hillbilly) culture and puts a new twist on American folklore. The main characters, the Goons, are inadvertently brought to Burgertucky by bumbling wizard Theodore Wiznat, who orders the strange creatures from an ad in the back of his Magical Wizard’s Life magazine as pets for his nephew. Soon, more mischievous Goons arrive and a community emerges where magical dragons, silliness and slapstick co-exists. www.magicstoreproductions.com

Endangered Species
Producer:Vancouver, Canada-based Nerd Corps Entertainment
Style: CGI with a 2-D look
Format: 52 x 11 minutes
Demo: Six to 11
Budget: US$350,000/half hour
Status: A bible and storylines will be available at MIPCOM for the storyboard-driven series
Delivery: Late 2011

Concept: Nerd Corps founder and president Asaph Fipke got the idea for this gag-heavy physical comedy series while traveling through Vancouver’s vast Stanley Park on his commute to the office. While not tied to the Pacific Northwest, the series’ main setting of Tranquility Now Park, located on the outskirts of Megopolis, serves as the place where a rag-tag group of humanized animals confront their feelings about living next to civilization and with each other. At the series’ center are the optimistic Fuzzy Bun Bun – a genetically cloned domestic rabbit that’s escaped his owner – and cynical sad-sack Poco, a seagull with a defective wing that makes him fly in circles, preventing him from ever heading south for the winter. Joining the pair are the likes of Leo the Envious Cougar, Sanchez the Rebel Squirrel and Snafu the Killer Whale. Episodes revolve around what the animals are willing to do to either fully join human life in the city or extract revenge. For example, Snafu is constantly fighting his natural predatory instincts. He’s enrolled in therapy, joined an underwater yoga group and moved to an all-kelp diet. But he often succumbs to the temptation presented by fellow resident Tidbit the Baby Seal, and a comical cat-that-never-gets-the-mouse chase ensues. www.nerdcorps.com

Mola Noguru
Producer: Madrid, Spain’s Zinkia Entertainment
Style: CGI
Format: 52 x 11 minutes
Demo: Three to five
Budget: Roughly US$11 million for entire series
Status: The bible and pilot episode are complete and the prodco is looking for presales and commissioning partners
Delivery: Late 2011

Concept: After selling its first preschool series Pocoyo around the world, Zinkia was looking to build on that newfound expertise and push the envelope a bit at the same time. Zoning in on creating a strong, aspirational female figure for a slightly older preschool crowd, the company hatched the lush and fantastical Mola Noguru. The girl, Yoyomi, serves as the eyes and ears of the viewer. And with the help of five friends – including narrator Tombo the singing fish and best pals Julio the robot and emotional, impulsive Baba – Yoyomi learns how to evaluate her surroundings and think for herself. BAFTA award-winning writers Dan Berlinka and Andy Williams are working on the scripts and Zinkia has a 360-plan for the property that includes online components and a licensing program. www.zinkia.com

Spaceface
Producer: Toronto’s guru Studio
Style: Animation tests are underway now
Format: 26 x 22 minutes
Demo: Eight to 11
Budget: Between US$350,000 and US$400,000/half hour
Status: guru is busy drafting a bible and pilot script and is interested in talking to prospective co-pro partners to get it off the ground
Delivery: Late 2011

Concept: Talk about the best (or worst?) summer job ever. Worried that he’ll never measure up to his family’s blue-chip pedigree, the omnipotent parents of Spaceface‘s teen protagonist Heston Treasure decide he needs a bit of direction and send him out to hunt down the universe’s ultimate evil. Does it matter whether or not such a thing exists? Not really to Heston. Along with a diverse group of shipmates aboard The Tender Lily that include anxious overachiever Pip and faithful robot Soda, Heston finds himself landing on strange planets to meet, and possibly bowl, with scores of mostly evil antagonists. Mary Bredin, who heads up development and acquisitions at guru, says she’s made it her mission in life to find projects that don’t look like everything else and believes the concept from Toronto-based comic book artist Chris Stone fits the bill. It certainly presents a fresh interpretation of the early-modern space-age style and Stone will be heavily involved in crafting plots for the series. Bredin says original, tween-friendly music will also feature prominently in the comic series.
www.gurustudio.com

QPootle 5
Producers: London’s Snapper Productions and blue-zoo Animation
Style: CGI
Format: 52 x 10 minutes
Demo: Preschool
Budget: Roughly US$11,600/minute
Status: A 1.5-minute pilot is ready to go and the producers are looking to field offers from UK broadcasters.
Delivery: Mid-2011

Concept: Along with his wife and son, Ben, celebrated British children’s author/illustrator Nick Butterworth formed Snapper Productions for the sole purpose of bringing his wee green alien character, which starred in two books from HarperCollins UK, to the small screen. QPootle 5 is, as Butterworth puts it, ‘a happy-go-lucky chap’ that lives on the planet Okidoki. He’s a resourceful little fellow and the series spends a lot of time exploring his ingenuity and, hopefully, inspiring kid viewers to follow suit at home. Surrounded by his friends, QPootle 5 finds himself tackling and resolving everyday problems. For example, in one episode pal Edi, aboard his own spaceship, gets the hiccups and cannot shake them. QPootle 5 cleverly decides to dock his ship next to Eddi’s and places a giant loudspeaker on its exterior. He then honks the ship’s horn. Eddi nearly jumps out of his skin, but guess what? The hiccups disappear. www.snapper-films.com

About The Author
Lana Castleman is the Editor & Content Director of Kidscreen and oversees all content for Kidscreen magazine, kidscreen.com and related kidscreen events. lcastleman@brunico.com

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