Who For Susan Broe, falling into animation was a happy accident.
After 11 years producing and directing the hit live-action music series Planet Rock Profiles, she had children and her life suddenly became very toon-centric.
“All you do is watch animation, plus live-action work isn’t conducive to having children, with the travel and the long hours,” Broe says.
When her kids were very young, she met producer/animator Gary “Gilly” Gill and the two quickly collaborated on a short original animated film for adults called Tea with the Dead.
“We didn’t set out to form a company, but we submitted Tea with the Dead to Cartoon Forum. It got selected and financed by the Irish Film Board, and then all of sudden three years pass and we had multiple projects in development,” she says.
Broe formed Wiggleywoo with Gill in 2012, and in three years it’s promptly earned a reputation for creating award-winning original animated productions for all ages, including the newly launched 26 x five-minute preschool series The Day Henry Met….
The work Originally introduced at Cartoon Forum 2013, The Day Henry Met‘s US$1.3-million budget was raised by RTÉjr, The Irish Film Board, Section 481, Creative Europe and other broadcast pre-sales to Nick Jr. (UK, Ireland), TVO (Canada), YLE (Finland) and SVT (Sweden).
The series follows an inquisitive little boy named Henry, who encounters someone or something new in every episode like a whale, a postman, a knight or the moon. It made its television debut on RTÉjr in July and will soon air on Nick Jr. UK and its other broadcast partners, including ABC Australia, which came on board recently.
Broe says distributor Monster Entertainment is currently negotiating additional deals, including one with a US broadcaster. “I think it’s resonated because the concept is quite simple and Gary has a unique artistic style,” she says. “Henry is like every five-year-old, and people have fallen in love with him from the beginning.”
While Wiggleywoo awaits word on financing for a second season that would start production in December, the company has two additional kids programs in the hopper. Doopydoo is a non-dialog preschool series starring three problem-solving friends—Doopydoo, Ladida and Dumdidum.
The 13 x two-minute project debuted at MIPTV in 2014, but had been on hold while the company pushes The Day Henry Met forward.
“We have a couple of broadcasters interested so hopefully it will make it to television sometime soon,” says Broe. The second project, Tony & Abigail, is a 26 x seven-minute 2D-animated series for kids ages nine to 11 that will launch at Cartoon Forum this month.
Other original projects in development include an animated feature, You, Me, The Sky and the Sea, and an adult comedy series entitled Scribe.
Broe says the company intends to focus solely on original productions as it expands its body of work.
“There is a certain freedom to be able to do your own work and raise your own finances. But if we can’t raise finances for ourselves, it’s possible we would take on co-producers,” she says.
“As a new company, money is always a big issue. And the animation industry in Ireland is booming, so just finding crew and staff with the experience you require is really difficult.”