After finding success on primetime TV and online with animated comedies for grown-ups—like Adult Swim Canada’s Executioner and Friend and Mondo YouTube series Gary and His Demons—Canada’s Look Mom! Productions is spreading its wings in the kids space with a strategy that employs many of the same creators (and techniques) that make adults laugh.
Under the guidance of creative director Joshua Bowen, Toronto’s Look Mom! launched in fall 2017 as the creator-driven animation arm of parentco Blue Ant Media. Bowen comes with a fair bit of animated cred, having developed and produced 230-plus animated comedy shorts for adults through Bite on Mondo.
Look Mom!’s slate includes The Great Hotel Rudini of Illusionism, (pictured) a 26 x 11-minute co-production for kids ages eight to 11 with Brazilian studios Boutique Filmes (SOS Fairy Manu) and Birdo (Cupcake & Dino). Expected to launch in 2020, the series follows a mischievous boy who inherits a magic hotel and must bring it back to prosperity.
Look Mom! is also working with Vancouver-based editor/writer Ellery VanDooyeweert, who previously worked with Bowen on Mondo series City In Crisis, and is now the creator of Toy Hunters. The show targets six- to 11-year-olds and follows two brothers who learn their eccentric grandfather leads a secret life as a hunter of haunted toys.
The prodco is also partnering with Baltimore, Maryland-based Jimmy Giegerich (Executioner and Friend) on a hero-in-waiting show for eight to 11s, Garlowe’s Academy for Young Adventurers. All the series will be episodic, with some serialized elements, and distributed by Blue Ant International.
“The biggest thing for us is we want our shows to be funny for everyone, which requires sophisticated writing that hopefully translates to the kids audience” says Bowen.
On the technical side, Look Mom! is taking a page from adult animated shows like Bob’s Burgers and its own series Gary and His Demons by recording multiple voice actors simultaneously in the same room. (In most Western animation, dialogue is recorded individually in separate sessions.)
“A lot of great comedy is very nuanced, so we don’t like the idea of recording one person at a time,” says Bowen. “We like to capture performers reacting to each other. We generally use sketch comedians or people who have dabbled in improv. We haven’t seen this as much in animation, but it’s worked with our other shows and we feel it will be equally effective in the kids space.”