After making a name for itself with popular Adult Swim shows Rick and Morty, Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole and Moral Orel, California-based Starburns Industries is out to prove it can broaden its audience with Log—the prodco’s first long-form animated kids series.
Starburns is a co-pro partner on the 13 x 11-minute 2D comedy for six- to 12-year-olds with Melbourne’s Pirate Size Productions. Created by Pirate Size creative producer Dan Nixon, the series centers around a mysterious chunk of timber (think Wilson, the volleyball from Castaway) that floats, rolls, falls and is carried into the lives of people in need. And despite being a non-sentient piece of wood, Log always finds a way to help.
According to Starburns head of development Simon Oré, the prodco always wanted to expand into the kids space, but took some time to find a project matching its four pillars of storytelling—make it funny, strange, sad and beautiful. “We think these elements are universal and stand out in children’s programming as much as adult content,” says Oré. “Log has these in spades.”
He adds that the company also didn’t want to be known as a one-genre wonder. “We want to be a studio that tells all sorts of stories, and even though we make a lot of different things [Starburns' portfolio includes 2015's Oscar-nominated stop-motion film Anomalisa], we don’t want to just keep pumping out Adult Swim science-fiction shows.”
The company was also intrigued by the fact that the show’s unlikely hero is an inanimate, speechless drifter onto which kids and adults can project whatever they want or need. To work around the character’s static quality, Log’s emotions are brought to life through devices including framing shots; the use of external elements, such as rain that lands on Log like tears; and music. The character can also whistle when wind whips down its stump top and out the small crack of its mouth.
Pirate Size producer Bryony McLachlan says the prodco was a little nervous at first that people wouldn’t get the show, but so far pitching has gone well, and broadcasters are drawn to the series’ heart. “People have been on board, which is somewhat surprising—but also very exciting,” says McLachlan.
Oré says Log has been the perfect first kids project to work on. “Whatever the fate of Log, we want to figure out how to keep working together because we love the chemistry.”