Government funding body Screen Australia is backing a new online kids project from Brisbane’s Ludo Studio (Bluey) and two previously announced television series, as part of a US$13-million production investment round across kids and adult content.
An undisclosed portion of the funding will help Aussie prodcos Ludo and Since 1788 co-produce Robbie Hood, a six x 10-minute live-action comedic retelling of the classic action-adventure tale Robin Hood, but with preteen characters and a focus on the contemporary Aboriginal experience in Alice Springs, Australia.
The series will be written and directed by Dylan River (Finke, Sweet Country) and co-written by Kodie Bedford (Grace Beside Me, Mystery Road). Executive producing for Ludo are creator/producer Charlie Aspinwall and creator/director Daley Pearson. Tanith Glynn-Maloney and Meg O’Connell are also attached to produce, while Patricia Morton-Thomas will serve as the project’s Indigenous consultant. Additional support for the series will be provided by Aussie pubcaster SBS, Screen Queensland and Screen Territory.
Screen Australia is also providing additional investment to Aquarius Films’ previously announced live-action tween series The Unlisted for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The series is also getting financing from the IP’s Toronto, Canada-based distributor Sinking Ship Entertainment. Created by Justine Flynn, the 15 x 26-minute series marks Aquarius’ first foray into children’s television after producing hit movies including the Oscar-nominated Lion. Set to launch in fall 2019, The Unlisted centers around the adventures of 12-year-old twins Dru and Kal and a group of vigilante kids who join forces against a powerful government plotting to control the world’s youth population.
Finally, 26 x 11-minute Spongo, Fuzz and Jalapeña from Cheeky Little Media (Kazoops, Bottersnikes & Gumbles) has received completion funding. Greenlit for production last November as a co-commission by ABC KIDS, Disney Channel Australia and Foxtel, the series follows the adventures of three best friends who go to great lengths to break world records in a town full of crazy contests.
The series is created by Cheeky Little’s David Webster, and is being produced in-house by the studio’s co-founder Patrick Egerton and Isla Curtis. It’s set to premiere on ABC KIDS in 2019, followed by a secondary broadcast on Disney Channel Australia via Foxtel. International distribution is being handled by Canada’s DHX Media.
In other news from Australia, Blue Ant Media-owned Northern Pictures’ first foray into live-action drama—kids comedy series Hardball—has started filming. ABC TV added the 13 x half-hour series to its slate last month and will launch the program on ABC ME at a later date. Created by writing duo Guy Edmonds and Matt Zeremes, the series was developed alongside Northern Pictures’ head of kids and EP, Catherine Nebauer. Screen Australia, Create NSW, and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), which is also the IP’s international distributor, are providing additional financing.