Festive films and seasonal specials are nice, but Finland’s Gutsy Animations wants to deck broadcasters’ halls with a new Christmas series that has year-round appeal.
Seeing an opportunity to tap into the perennial popularity of holiday content (see Hallmark’s Christmas in July programming) and make a show that could become an annual viewing tradition for families, Gutsy CEO Marika Makaroff says the studio created The Woodies of Moominvalley.
The 24 x three-minute series is a Christmas spinoff of Gutsy’s flagship animated series Moominvalley (26 x 22 minutes), which has been picked up by broadcasters like RAI (Italy), France Télévisions and ZDF (Germany).
With a holiday-focused series in mind, the studio set out to find characters that matched the festive feel. Enter the Woodies—tiny woodland creatures who appear briefly in Moominvalley and instantly connected with kids, says Makaroff. After audiences began sharing fan art of the characters on social media, it became clear that they could carry their own series, Makaroff says.
Each episode of the 3D/CG-animated series offers a quick look into the comedic adventures of the Woodies as they prep for Christmas, and the final episode will see the woodland creatures celebrate the big day together. Although it’s early days for the in-development spinoff, Gutsy is confident due to the series’ built-in consumer products potential around holiday-focused categories and because of continued demand from fans.
Aimed at preschoolers, the short three-minute episode format was chosen to appeal to mobile audiences, as well as give families something they can watch anytime during the holidays, Makaroff says. The hope is that shorter episodes will also resonate with broadcasters, because it offers them the flexibility of releasing an episode a day during the lead-up to Christmas or dropping a few at once, she says.
The show won’t just be viewable during Christmas time, though, and in an effort to expand the series beyond December, episodes won’t all be explicitly about the holiday. By making a series instead of a one-off special, the studio is able to focus many of the episodes on more universal experiences like gift-giving, eating together and sharing music while also avoiding the religious elements of the event.
Delivery is planned for holiday 2021, and Gutsy is seeking co-production and broadcast partners for the series.
“The hope is that this show can be played throughout the year because it focuses on giving, kindness, taking care of the environment and empathy,” says Makaroff. “It’s also our way to connect with and deliver on what our growing fanbase wants to see.”