YouTube doc celebrates Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas the Tank Engine is 70 years old this year. A new documentary film, Seventy Years of Friendship,  produced by Mattel and crowdsourcing studio Tongal, marks the occasion.
July 15, 2015

Thomas the Tank Engine is 70 years old this year, and property owner Mattel is marking the occasion with a new documentary film, Seventy Years of Friendship.

The toyco produced the 30-minute documentary in partnership with Tongal, an online site that connects creators and filmmakers with funding sponsors and projects.

Directed and produced by Cassandra Chowdhury, along with L.A.-based prodco Mindfruit Studios, the doc launched July 14 on the Thomas & Friends YouTube channel, which has 212,777 subscribers  and 295 million views.

Chowdhury said the documentary had a low-budget, with filmmakers setting an ambitious goal of visiting 10 countries and talking with Thomas & Friends fans in each of the destinations, as well as with crew members who work on the linear series that airs on PBS in the US.

Mindfruit won the project after seeing it posted to Tongal and making a submission.

“It was a perfect match for us because we had just shot two other travel-heavy documentaries and had that shoot-on-the-go experience,” said Chowdhury.

Mattel provided access to its Thomas-branded toys and materials, but the company did not ask for any specific content to be included in the story.

“Our goal was to tell a story about Thomas fans and the passionate people who make Thomas come alive,” said Chowdhury.

The doc includes interviews with Christopher Awdry, the son of Rev. Wilbert Awdry, an Anglican vicar and author behind Thomas the Tank Engine. Christopher shares personal memories associated with the stories, and he reads from the books, including from his father’s personal favorite, Thomas Comes to Breakfast. The reverend’s first book in the Thomas series, Thomas the Tank Engine, was published in 1946.

From StreamDaily. With files from Darah Hansen.

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