26- May 1
Stuttgart Int’l Animation Festival and FMX offer days of cutting edge films, workshops and networking opportunities with a touch of German hospitality. [itfs.de | fmx.de] Today on disc: Garo: The Animation Season 1 Part 1, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis - The Complete Series, The Inspector, Wabbit: Season 1 Part 1, Crazylegs Crane, The Ant and the Aardvark, One Piece: Season 7 Voyage 6, Kamisama Kiss: Season 2, Lily’s Driftwood Bay: Meet Lily and Caillou’s Pet Parade.
‘IAnimation legend Andres Deja discusses moving on from Disney to his new short film,
By James Gartler.
had always hoped I would be there until I died,” says Andreas Deja with a chuckle as he reflects on his 30-plus-year tenure at Disney Feature Animation. “Well, maybe not until I died,” he says. “At least until I couldn’t draw any more for one reason or another.”
And in a manner of speaking, that part came true. Following the release of 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, Disney put on hold plans for hand-drawn features, preferring to focus on CG animation. Having brought such iconic characters as Jafar, Gaston, Scar and King Triton to life using only pencil and paper, Deja soon opted to move on and continue to make traditional animation on his own terms.
That passion is now being channeled into his first independent short film, Mushka. “This is my chance to work on a project I never would have had time for if I were still on the Disney payroll,” he says of the 25-minute movie. “So here I am with all the time in the world, basically, and the engine is still going and the creative juices are still flowing.”
The premise for Mushka first came to Deja some six months after his departure from Disney in 2011.
“I love sketching animals and I thought about focusing on a human-animal friendship,” he says. “Mushka is about a girl who is raising a tiger as a cub and as he gets older and bigger there’s trouble because there are people who want him dead.”
Though an early draft of the story was set in India, Deja quickly realized it would only invite comparisons to Disney’s The Jungle Book, the film that first introduced him to animation at the age of 11.
“I wanted to get away from that so I went north and moved the whole thing to Russia to deal with the biggest cat in the world: the Siberian tiger. Suddenly, everything became kind of fresh because that’s a locale that hasn’t been explored in animation.”
Rewriting The Rules Fans can expect to see a different visual style in Mushka that’s more in keeping with the veteran art- ist’s personal aesthetic. “I wanted it to look more the way I draw things in my sketchbook,” Deja says of his vivid color pencil linework. “I wanted to maintain that look, which is looser, so I began by doing an animation test and that gave me enough confidence to move ahead with it.” The end result, he hopes, will strike a balance between sketchiness and the kind of fluidity of motion usually associated with his Disney characters.
Helping to further immerse the audience in that culture are the period-appropriate outfits characters will be seen sporting, thanks to the work of one of Deja’s former UCLA students, Ariel Goldberg. “I had no idea what people were wearing in Russia in the 1970s and ’80s, absolutely no clue, and you can’t really research that online. Luckily, (Goldberg’s) parents were teenagers in Russia at that time, so it was perfect for him to do all the costume designs and he did a wonderful job.”
Inspirational Icons The director’s small circle of collaborators includes none other than legendary composer Richard Sherman, who first heard the story for the film over an impromptu dinner. “It just so happened that I described it really well and Richard was fascinat-
But they’re not that much older. “I think one of the core dynamics that works for this show, that always works for this show, is they’re like super cute kindergarten-age girls that fight monsters before bedtime and they’ve got to juggle their little domestic life with their being superheroes,” says Jennings. “We didn’t want to make them middle-schoolers, we didn’t want to make them high-schoolers, but we also did want these opportunities to expand the world a little bit.”
“Most of the episodes don’t focus as much on a gimmicky bad guy,” says storyboard artist Julia Vickerman. “It’s a little bit more about the girls and what they’re learning about themselves, like life lessons type stuff, and also the pacing of the show is a lot faster than it used to be to accommodate what kids are watching these days.”
Minor Makeovers Many of the same issues faced the visuals for the show. “There are a lot of nostalgic impressions that I don’t want to lose, such as the girls’ heart-shaped bed, or three holes in the house and the general feeling of Townsville,” says Eusong Lee, art director on the series. “Those things I think we had to keep to keep the whole vibe, but we tried to push the colors and the style.”
Among the tweaks: dropping the thick black lines that made the original series so distinctively graphic, minor design changes to the girls and a slight alteration of proportions. The overall result is an intentionally subtle difference.
“We want it to feel like the original, but we also wanted to expand it and make it feel a little more as if you can connect with it as an audience,” says Jennings. “We did that in a lot of different ways, subtle ways and not so subtle ways. We rounded some of the edges and we made things a little more volumetric, but we still have a lot of things that are very graphic.”
“I think the show is actually dramatically different visually, but the girls are so iconic you look at it and it feels like how you remember the original show being, so it doesn’t come off as feeling different,” says Boyle.
The show is board-driven with Jennings and Boyle coming up with outlines for episodes, handing them off to two in-house writers who both have an improv comedy background and then to the show’s four pairs of storyboard art- ists. Animation is done at Sunmin Animation in South Korea.
“Nick and Bob are so collaborative and are letting the board artists have a lot of creative say in this show, which is very nice,” says Vickerman.
While McCracken is not involved in the new show, the production team has been in touch with him and Boyle says he’s been supportive of the project. “I told him that we’re doing a different thing, it’s different times, a different crew, and he was on board,” says Boyle.
Pleasing the Fans As it is with almost any reboot, fan reaction has been split between those thrilled to have an old favorite back and those for whom the new show can never equal the original. The voice cast, in particular, drew fan fire with a petition launched to have original cast members Cathy Cavadini, Tara Strong and E.G. Daily return. Despite a flurry of promotion, the petition drew few signatures — and Vickerman says the new cast of Amanda Leighton as Blossom, Kristen Li as Bubbles and Natalie Palamides as Buttercup will win over viewers once they see the show.
“Once fans hear and get used to these girls’ voices, they’re going to love them because each of these girls is really making it her own,” she says. “With any reboot there’s always going to be some anger there, but what you have to keep in mind is we’re not erasing the original version.”
“We’re on this show because of the original show and as fans we love it,” Boyle says. “We’re trying to figure out how to make a version that hopefully is somewhere close to the original in terms of its popularity and fun, and I think we are doing that. I’m very proud of the whole crew and what everyone’s doing and how it came out.” [
Produced by: TeamTO (teamto.com) Created by: Pongo Kuo (original concept) Format: 52 x 11 (Delivery in 2018) Target audience: Kids 6-11 Type of animation: CGI Synopsis: This action-comedy follows Cho Yu, a modern girl who stays busy with school and volunteering at an animal shelter. Coming from a long line of powerful women, Cho Yu’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives a mystical — sometimes unpredictable — suit of jade armor. With her best friends Yang and Lin and the magical Beasticons, Cho Yu suits up to battle the forces of darkness. Selling points: This show, reimagined with a female lead since its pitch at Cartoon Forum 2011, is all about girl power. “With its bubbly, feminine and brave heroine – descended from a long line of strong women – Jade Armor is a project very dear to my heart,” says EP and TeamTO founding manager Corinne Kouper. “This modern girl role model is a fun and important one for the kids’ space and interestingly appeals to boy audiences as well.” Key creatives include director Chloe Miller ( Angelo Rules) and head writer Rebecca Hobbs ( P.E.T. Detectives). Produced by: Toonbox Animation Studio Distributed by: Ankama Animations (ankama.com) Format: 32 x 5 Target audience: Preschool Type of animation: 2D Synopsis: When little blue kittens Kit and Kate hop into their enchanted toy box and choose something to play with, their imaginations create a big, new world to explore. On their adventures they must make decisions, which don’t always turn out right. Luckily there’s always a helpful “stranger” (their mom in imaginary disguise) to help nudge them in the right direction. Selling points: Available in Russian and English, this transmedia property is colorful, inviting and gentle enough for little tykes. With mobile apps as well as physical and digital books to accompany the short animations, the curious little cats are ready to meet new friends around the world. Broadcasters: Disney Junior (Australia & New Zealand), EBS (South Korea), Icflix (SVOD in MENA) Produced by: TeamTO, Thuristar Distributed by: CAKE (R7.D18) Created by: Joeri Christiaen Format: 52 x 11 Target audience: Kids 6-11 Type of animation: CGI, SD and HD Synopsis: This medieval comedy centers on street-smart Jimmy the Squire, his best friend Cat the daring princess, and his father, Henri of Orange — a charmingly inept but passionately chivalrous knight who might not be the most efficient protector of the realm, but is definitely the funniest. Together this trio sets
Samka Productions, Bamboo
Previously held in New York, the ceremony will present awards to six of the 24 nominees spanning 13 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. In addition to preschool and animation categories, awards are presented for factual, non-scripted, series and TV movie/miniseries.
This will be the fourth edition of the awards, which were first presented in 2013. The awards close a programming track titled Kids@MIPTV, which also includes the Future of Kids TV Summit.
The ceremony itself is set for April 5. — Benesse Corporation / TV Setouchi Broadcasting / Dentsu / DASH / demand / The Answerstudio, Japan
Animation Get Ace — Galaxy Pop, Australia Mr. Trance — El Recreo Studio / Señal Colombia, Colombia Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter — NHK / NHK Enterprises / Dwango / Polygon Pictures, Japan Le Trésor du Vieux Jim (The Great Treasure Quest) — TAT Productions / Master Films, France [
As another MIPTV looms, times are good for Rome-based Mondo TV, one of the continent’s top producers for animation content. The studio has a trio of hot projects it’s bringing to the content market and has a surprise announcement scheduled for the first day of the show. (Check www.animationmagazine.net April 4 or sign up for our free email newsletter for details direct from Cannes).
Mysteries aside, Mondo has big plans for its animated series Adventures in Duckport, Eddie Is a Yeti and Cuby Zoo.
Mondo will pitch strongly at MIPTV Eddie Is a Yeti, a non-dialogue show co-produced with Los Angeles-based Toon Googles. The 52 x 3 min. show follows a yeti named Eddie, who finds the world isn’t ready for him so he has to constantly disguise himself while his best friend, Polly, tries to keep him out of too much trouble.
Adventures in Duckport is a 52 x 11 min. series for ages 3 to 6 based on the Suzy’s Zoo publishing brand. The 2D animated show will be produced in HD and will feature original Suzy’s Zoo characters such as Suzy Ducken, Jack Quacker, Penelope O’Quinn, Corky Turtle and more. The show will explore the adventures of these characters as they interact with the world and do their best to help the elder members of their community with love and respect. Mondo is producing the show with a worldwide launch planned by fall 2017.
Studio 100 Media has long had a strong presence at MIPTV and 2016 — the 20th anniversary of the Munich-based distributor’s parent company, Belgium-based Studio 100 — is looking no different as it brings Nils Holgersson and The Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill to the market.
Both properties fit neatly into Studio 100 Media’s track record of selling series adapting the best classic children’s stories from all over the world.
Based on the book by Swedish author Selma Lagerlof — the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature — Nils Holgersson is a 52 x 13 min. CGI series produced by Studio 100 Animation that updates the successful 1980 2D anime series that aired in more than 70 countries.
Created by Pierre-Alain Chartier, Jan Van Rijsselberge and Cyril Tysz, the new series follows the reckless and daring rebel Nils, who is changed by a mischievous elf into a miniature human who can speak with animals. With his faithful friend, Martin the gander, Nils embarks on an extraordinary journey among the wild geese. The series explores important values and topics like conservation and friendship, all served with a healthy dose of fantasy, magic and adventure.
With Lagerlof’s novel having been originally published in two parts in 1906 and 1907, this CGI series is aimed at ages 6-11, serves up a more contemporary look and is adapted to the viewing habits of children today.
Current plans are to deliver the first 26 episodes in December, with the rest following in April 2017.
The Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill is the most-recent iteration of the classic Australian children’s book, which was published in the 1930s and adapted to 2D animation in the mid-1990s.
The 52 x 11 min. CG-animated series is about 11-year-old Blinky Bill, a cheeky and overconfident Koala with a knack for mischief. Together with his thrill-seeking and loyal sidekick, Jacko, Blinky Bill protects and helps the citizens of their outback town, Greenpatch. Exaggerated in his wild imagination, Blinky Bill can take even the simplest of challenges and turn it into an epic adventure.
Produced by Flying Bark Productions in association with Telegael Teoranta and Giant Wheel, the series is created by Andy Collins, Steve Cooper, Laurent Auclair and Piero Sgro, based on the book series by Dorothy Wall.
A true Australian icon, The Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill boasts high brand awareness, a strong positive brand association and nostalgic memories in the older target group as well as the wish to share these feelings with their family and children. The 2D animated series was broadcast in more than 120 countries, and a recent CG feature launched last year and has helped stoke interest in the character.
The first half of the 52 x 11 min. series aimed at ages 5-7 is ready for delivery in December, with the rest coming in the second quarter of 2017. [
Hahn Film, www.hahnfilm.de Cartoon Film Rothkirch,
Motion Works, www.motionworks.eu
Trixter Film, www.trixter.de Senator Filmproduktion,
Greenlight Media, www.greenlightmedia.com
ndF: neue deutsche Filmgesellschaft,
Scopas Medien, www.scopas.de
Studio Film Bilder, www.filmbilder.de Animations-fabrik Hamburg, www.animationsfabrik.de
The 23rd edition of the International Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart runs April 26-May 1 and features multiple competitions and awards: International, Young Animation, Tricks for Kids, AniMovie, Animated Com Award, German Animation Screenplay Award, German Voice Actor Award, The Crazy Horse Session 48-hour animation jam and the Tele 5 “Leider Geil!” Special Award.
The festival also includes Animation Production Day, which consists of one-on-one meetings in which producers present films, TV or transmedia projects to TV channels, global distributors, publishers, banks and equity investors to find partners for co-production, financing and distribution.
A new section of the program, “Producers Meet Producers,” helps producers, service producers and service providers find partners, while the APD Conference looks at production trends, financing and media policy topics.
The festival and the charitable group Robert Bosch Stiftung present this year’s Arab Animation Forum, which connects young animation directors and artists from the 22 member nations of the Arab League with producers from Germany. The winning project is nominated for the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s film prize.
Rounding out the offerings are a digital Animated Video Market, which lets accredited guests view all films submitted to the festival, and an academic symposium, this year themed “Narrative Structures and Visual Storytelling.” [