When it comes to commercial animation shops breaking into long-form, Toronto-based Cuppa Coffee has made it. The toon entity is currently producing a half-hour Christmas special for CBS and a pilot for Nickelodeon, among numerous other projects. In fact, ever since the debut of CrashBox, Cuppa Coffee’s first long-form series now entering its second season on HBO Family, Cuppa Coffee has had eight studios shooting around the clock, notes exec producer Adam Shaheen.
After seeing CrashBox, CBS hired Shaheen to produce Snowden’s Christmas, a 22-minute stop-motion/cel-animation project with a healthy budget of around US$700,000. The special targets a family audience, and several kid characters figure prominently in the story.
‘We were given tremendous latitude in terms of designing what the world [of the film] would look like,’ Shaheen says. CrashBox partner Planet Grande of Malibu, California will complete post-production for the project for a Christmas `99 air date.
Also on Cuppa’s long-form roster is original short Clever Trevor, a seven-minute pilot commissioned by Cartoon Network VP of original animation, Linda Simensky, to air on the What A Cartoon block of shorts. The characters are created by combining stop-motion animation of found objects such as pencils and rulers with cel-animated heads and mouths. Slated for completion in 1999, the short is budgeted at US$240,000.
Nickelodeon is angling for its own cup of the action, commissioning Super Why, another project combining stop motion and cel animation, created by the Blues Clues development team at Nickelodeon. The group includes Brown Johnson, senior VP of Nick Jr. and Angela Santomero, producer, head writer and co-creator of Blues Clues. A preschool pilot, Super Why centers around a character who jumps into books, then inhabits the worlds inside them.
In creating its second round of 13 episodes of CrashBox, Cuppa Coffee continues to co-produce with Planet Grande. Interstitial series starring characters from the show have also been created for HBO, including 80 one-minute episodes each of Smart Mouth and Who Knew, budgeted at US$260,000 and US$275,000 per series, respectively. The one-minute series 411 is comprised of 40 episodes, budgeted at US$250,000 in total.
Finally, Cuppa Coffee casts its co-production net to the U.K. for the first time, collaborating on an as-yet-unnamed game show project with a U.K. producer.