For the first time in its 100-year history, international production services and distribution firm Technicolor has set up an animation development and production division.
VP of animation Steven Wendland says experience gained in operating Technicolor’s animation studio in Bangalore, India over the past five years convinced the company that the time was right to get into original production. Having worked in animation at Vancouver, Canada-based Mainframe Entertainment for 10 years, Wendland says he was happy to have his role at Technicolor evolve from overseeing service work to straddling both the service and production businesses.
The company has set up a dedicated original development team based in L.A. and hired two industry vets to join Wendland and lead development and production efforts – Jean MacCurdy, former president of Warner Bros. Animation and Fonda Snyder, co-founder and former president of Storyopolis Productions and former VP of original movies with Disney Channel. And heading up the team is Technicolor Digital Productions president Tim Sarnoff, former president of Sony Imageworks.
To kick off the slate, the Technicolor team convinced Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Berkeley Breathed of Bloom County fame to let the company produce his first-ever TV series, based on his picture book Pete & Pickles.
So far, a bible and initial scripts have been worked up for the 26 x half-hour CGI series for six- to 10-year-olds about a friendship between two mismatched characters – an easily-embarrassed pig named Pete, and a giant runaway circus elephant named Pickles. Hilarious situations ensue as Pete and his new fugitive roomie navigate day-to-day life in close quarters and use their imaginations to enhance their larger-than-life adventures out in the world.
Second up is Atomic Puppet, a fast-paced, action-comedy for six to 12s about 11-year-old Joey and his superhero sidekick, a magical puppet that comes to life every time Joey puts it on his hand. Initial plans for the series are set to produce 52 x 11-minute eps. The series was created and is being penned by Mark Drop, whose credits include Dinosaur Train and Kick Buttowski, and Jerry Leibowitz who created and exec produced The Mouse and the Monster.
Though the first two series out of the gate are comedic, Wendland says the team plans to take on a wide range of genres and has roughly seven fledgling concepts in the incubator, though he added that the company only plans to develop a few at a time.