After nearly a decade of work that includes three seasons of Emmy-winning hybrid preschool series The Treehouse Stories, animated M6 commission Chico Chica Boumba and France 3 special Houdini, Paris-based Dandelooo is seeing strength in numbers—and vowels—with its year-old studio Ooolala.
Based in Valence, France, the animation prodco launched in July 2018 to help accommodate Dandelooo’s growing development slate, diversify its pre-production capabilities (from writing to background art) and potentially take on service work.
Helmed by Vanessa Labarthe-Buttin and Jean Bouthors, Ooolala operates independently of its parent company. However, the two studios are partnering on several shows, including 52 x 13-minute France Télévisions commission Stinky Dog. “We’ve had the first year to see how it works, and now we are moving ahead at full speed,” says Dandelooo co-founder Jean-Baptiste Wery.
Ooolala is located in La Cartoucherie, a creative hub that houses animation school La Poudrière, as well as fellow French studios like TeamTO (Mighty Mike) and Folimage (A Cat’s Life). “We knew a lot of the best artists and directors were in Valence because of La Poudrière,” says co-founder Emmanuèle Pétry Sirvin.
“The idea was to add more creative value to our development slate,” adds Wery. “Valence is the perfect place to do artistic work.”
Now, Dandelooo and Ooolala are preparing the first two English-language episodes of Stinky Dog for MIP Jr. Based on a book series by Marc Boutavant and Colas Gutman, the comedy for six- to eight-year-olds is about a stray pooch on a mission to find an owner. French prodco Folivari and Belgian studio Panique! are co-producing.
The studio will then turn its attention to Mum is Pouring Rain, a 2D-animated comedy/adventure TV special for six- to 11-year-olds and families that was commissioned by Canal+ and co-produced by Laidak Films. Another Canal+ kids commission, The Upside Down River, will also be produced in Valence, as will France TV preschool series Billy the Cowboy Hamster.
On the distribution side, Dandelooo recently sold its first international format for The Treehouse Stories to Chinese distributor and IP management company Jetsen Huashi. The 49 x seven-minute show is being adapted into a Chinese-language version by Huashi and its co-producing partner, Alibaba-owned YouKu Kids.
Originally commissioned by Canal+ and co-produced by France’s Caribara, the series is about a group of friends who gather in a secret treehouse to read and share books. To date, the first two seasons of the original Treehouse Stories have been snapped up by more than 60 Chinese platforms, including iQIYI, Tencent and national broadcaster CCTV.
“We hope our format experience will help convince other countries to come on board,” says Pétry Sirvin. “We’re now looking to sell the format to India and license books from Canada and Brussels to make a fourth season.”
Although its sales growth in China is flourishing (other series acquired by Huashi include Stinky Dog and Rita & Crocodile), Pétry Sirvin says Dandelooo has no intention of opening a distribution office in Asia-Pacific yet, although discussions are underway for potential Chinese co-productions.