UK prodco LoveLove Films’ has appointed Aardman as the distributor for new preschool adventure series Pop Paper City. The British producer/distributor picked up the series, currently in the early stages of development, because it was encouraged by the show’s tactile character designs.
Aimed at kids four-to six-years old, the 52 x seven-minute 3D-animated show revolves around a group of friends who create new parts of their paper-based world. The series focuses on encouraging kids to create their own crafts, which was a big factor in why the distributor acquired it, says Aardman’s senior distribution and acquisitions manager Robin Gladman.
Gladman met with Georgina Hurcombe, the director of LoveLove Films at Kidscreen Summit in 2018 and he liked that the studios shared a focus on comedy and unique character designs, he says. He later got his first look at Pop Paper City at MIPCOM that same year. After seeing the IP, Gladman knew that the tactile look of the show would fit well into the company’s catalogue and match some of its own properties (such as the stop-motion property Morph), as well as build on the company’s plans for the arts and crafts space. Aardman signed on as distribution partner for the series this month, before the Annecy Festival.
“I think arts and crafts show are very popular and preschoolers really like the interactive element,” says Gladman. “But there’s also an opportunity for us to take that element and expand it into more interactive content for YouTube.”
Aardman already has a number of edutainment videos on its YouTube channel that encourage kids to follow along and make their own creations, like the company’s stop-motion videos “Make a Train” video, which has more than 700,000 views. Along those lines, Pop Paper City’s papery focus is an easy element to adapt into short form content. There are no concrete plans yet for bringing the brand to YouTube, but Aardman sees digital paper craft DIY videos as a natural extension that can help increase the series reach, says Gladman.
Working with LoveLove Films is part of Aardman’s changing strategy to partner with prodco’s early in the development process of an IP, adds Gladman. To stand out as a distributor, and add value to the projects in its portfolio the prodco is starting to advise companies on how to create bibles, put together teasers and create animation tests. Doing this also guarantees that the IPs Aardman distributes will have the best possible chance of getting picked up by a broadcaster, he says.
“It also helps us endorse what they’re doing,” says Gladman. “Working with them early on to develop the show means that when we meet with all of our contacts in the industry we’re confident that the show is in the best possible shape.”
LoveLove has completed an animated storyboard for the film, a couple of scripts and a bible, says Gladman. Aardman showed the IP to broadcasters at the Annecy Festival last week, and there was interest from companies that liked how it inspired kids to be creative, he adds.
Aardman aims to get a greenlight for the show this year and deliver it by 2021, says Gladman. The companies are seeking a commissioning broadcast partner and working on presales for the show, he adds. Once the show gets a broadcaster on board Aardman is going to eventually shift its focus to developing plans for CP.
“The show’s colorful characters lend themselves to consumer products, and the show’s interest in crafts has a great potential for CP,” says Gladman. “Once we have that commissioning broadcaster locked in then we can really get to planning the ancillary partnerships and strategy.”