Zip Zip- ing Right Along
After 10 years, Paris-based Go-N is charged up about its new kids comedy — and a lot more stuff coming down the pipeline. By Tom McLean.
Go-N Productions is hardly new to the animation scene — 2014 is the 10th anniversary of its founding by Eric Garnet and Anne de Galard — but the company’s execs still find excitement in bringing new projects like the kids comedy series Zip Zip to market.
Debuting this fall in France and presented to international buyers for the first time at this year’s MIP Junior, Zip Zip follows a trio of forest animals who decide to try city life for a while by zipping up costumes that they hope will disguise them as household pets. Created by Aurore Damant from an original idea by Anne Ozenant, Zip Zip exemplifies what Garnet says the Paris-based studio exists to accomplish.
“This is exactly the work we like to do, is to develop ideas with authors, writers and graphic designers,” he says. “It’s a very simple, funny concept.”
Serving as story editor on Zip Zip is Cynthia True, an American writer with an extensive list of animation credits — including co-creating the animated series The Mighty B! True’s American connections lead to about two-thirds of the first season’s 52 11-minute episodes being written by experienced American animation writers. And Damant headed to Los Angeles for a year to work with True on developing the series.
“When we soft pitched it on the market we felt there was a great response,” says Garnet. The main interest came from France Televisions, which is Go-N’s main investor in Europe, and Super RTL in Germany.
Garnet says Go-N is looking to make a splash with the series all over the world. He was in Los Angeles this summer to record six episodes in English using such established voice actors as Tom Kenny and Kari Wahlgren.
“They love the show and did such a great job and were very enthusiastic and brought a lot of energy and we had a great time,” he says.
Garnet and de Galard previously worked together at Antefilms, which later became a part of Moonscoop, before striking out on their own in 2004 to form Go-N. Garnet says the intent was to focus on high-quality projects and bring to animation the work of authors and artists who otherwise might not have considered doing so.
Being a relatively small company means Garnet and de Galard have to wear multiple hats — Garnet as president and de Galard as general manager — in addition to the more creative aspects of producing.
Emmanuel de Franceschi is Go-N’s line producer, responsible for ensuring that quality is maintained while hitting schedules and budgets. Animation on most of the company’s shows is subcontracted to India, China or Malaysia, though Garnet says he hopes that the company can animate its in-development preschool show Simon in-house.
Go-N also is keen on a more France-centric project, having acquired the rights to do animated series based on the comic-book series Titeuf. Having sold more than 25 million books in France, the series is like a sitcom about young kids at school.
“The creator of the books had done a movie a few years ago, a few series, but he was not so happy, so he decided to find a new producer and he had seen our work,” Garnet says. “We met him and he chose us to do the new season that will go back to the roots of what he was writing. And he wanted to be very involved in the bible, in the writing and we had a great connection with him and so far it’s working really well.”
That series is nearly finished with scripts and will move soon into animatics and animation.
Go-N also has a couple of shows in development. One is a preschool show called Simon, based on a series of popular books about a young rabbit. Garnet says the books are very good at translating the kinds of things children think but don’t know how to say, explaining their success not just in France but also in Japan, China and Korea.
The other deal is with TF1 for a show based on another French comic book. The comic’s creators are involved in, and very passionate about, the show, which has just entered the development process.
Garnet says he’s happy with what the company has accomplished. “It’s hard work, but as long as we still have fun, it’s great.”
According to a recent survey of 30,000 children and parents around the world conducted by Kidz Global on behalf of the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association, Mattel’s fashion doll that started it all, Barbie, and construction toy (and so much more) LEGO are the most popular licenses with girls and boys.
Boys’ Top 10
Thomas & Friends
My Little Pony
Mickey Mouse [The study measured relative awareness, popularity and merchandise appeal of major children’s brands. Source: licensing.biz]
In September, London’s Grosvenor House Hotel hosted the annual Licensing Awards, presented by Licensing Source Book Europe. Comedian Miles Jupp hosted for an audience of 1,400 retailers, licensees, licensors and suppliers. Here are some of the big winners: Licensed Product Awards Toys or Games: Peppa Pig Weebles (Character Options) Dress-Up or Partyware: Disney Frozen Dress-Up
(Rubie’s Masquerade) Preschool Apparel: Paddington Babywear (Baby Gap) Children or Adult Apparel: The Beano Footwear Range
(Dr. Martens) Paper Products or Stationery: Frozen Birthday Cards
(Moonpig.com) Giftware: Despicable Me Backpacks (Posh Paws International) Food or Drink: Mr. Men and Little Miss Biscuits (Biscuiteers) The Innovation Award: Star Wars Homewares (Bluw) Licensed Property Awards Preschool: Peppa Pig Film or TV: Frozen Gaming or New Media: Angry Birds Brand: Coca Cola Classic: Thomas & Friends Peppa Pig Marketing Communication Award: Shaun the Sheep’s Pompom Parade Campaign for Wool