You can watch our shorts on Nick at:
- The Ghastly Gourmet Cooking Show – Wednesday 2 April, 6:30pm
- I Was a Teenage Butterfly – Friday 11 April, 6:30pm
The shorts can also be seen on Nickelodeon’s online site Nick TURBO in the TURBO XTRA section.
[original date: Wed 20 June 2007]
Today is my 25th Birthday, and I am spending it in Shanghai with Eddie and Sam discussing the upcoming feature project with the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. James has been in Annecy, France for the last week promoting the Dust Echoes shorts, and has just arrived here to join us for the creative discussions with SAFS.
We got an email today that two of our pitches for the Nickelodeon Australia Nick Shorts initiative have been successful and will go into production. They’ve sent over a contract for us to look at and we’re keen to get started on them when we get back. The initiative was put together by Nickelodeon Australia, the Screen Producers Association (SPAA) of Australia and the NSW Film and Television Office (FTO).
The 2 ideas we got through were I Was a Teenage Butterfly and The Ghastly Gourmet Cooking Show. In total, we pitched 4 ideas, but these two were the most developed. We had pitched them both previously and unsuccessfully for other initiatives.
I Was a Teenage Butterfly
IWATB is about an Emo butterfly named Floyd, who tries to be rebellious in an environment that has nothing antagonistic or unjust about it. His parents are frustratingly kind and supportive. He’s the lead singer and guitarist in a high school punk/rock band called “The Whatevers”, with his best friend Greta, a pessimistic black widow spider; Sting, a bee on bass guitar; and Slater, a slater bug on drums who never speaks. Our tagline for it is “Rebel without a Cocoon”
This seems to be the year for these initiatives from localised animation channels. At the beginning of the year, Cartoon Network Asia launched a very similar initiative, followed by Disney Channel Australia in March. We pitched IWATB for both initiatives and were unsuccessful both times. We did get close with Disney Channel making it to the interview stage. I think their main concern was that Floyd was too Emo. It also had similar themes to another Disney Channel show called The Buzz on Maggie, which featured a teenage fly in an insect band. It’s odd how many ideas you develop have the same themes as other projects in production or development. You have to be a bit lucky to get it right first!
The Ghastly Gourmet Cooking Show
GGCS is based on our Tropfest short, Carnivore Reflux, and is essentially a gross animated cooking show. We originally developed it as an adult themed short format series for an ABC/SA Film Corporation initiative to create a 13 x 5 minute series. We were shortlisted for the initiative and given money to develop it further, even taking it to MipCom in 2006, but eventually we lost the initiative earlier this year. While we were waiting on the assessment from ABC, we were not allowed to pitch the idea to anyone else, and so we were not able to pitch it for the Cartoon Network or Disney Channel competitions.
Originally we took the chefs from Carnivore Reflux and developed the idea for the series around them by embellishing their characters. The characters were Cog, a gruesome gadget aficionado; Grog, a drunk; Voila, a chef with a mad eye for aesthetics; Shirley, the brute mother figure of the team; and Pith, the apprentice. For the Nick pitch, we replaced Pith with two children, Basil and Pepper, who are brother and sister forced to spend the holidays with their uncles and aunt who are the GGCS chefs. We changed the colour palette to appeal more to this audience.
[original chefs from "Carnivore Reflux, 2006"]
[Chefs from the adult themed Ghastly Gourmet Cooking Show. L-to-R: Cog, Grog, Pith, Voila & Shirley]
[Chefs for Nick pitch. L-to-R: Glug, Cog, Basil, Pepper, Voila and Shirley]
We’re now getting to the stage where we’re outgrowing initiatives. When we were starting out, they were really good for us. Initiatives would marry together the involvement of a funding body and a broadcaster, making it easier for emerging talent like us to get around putting a deal together. You get a bit of money to make something that gets you a lot of exposure. The only problem is there isn’t usually a lot of money involved or room to move in negotiating the contracts. At some stage, you have to outgrow the initiatives and start creating your own opportunities. The next crop of talent will then go through the same way. We’re quite lucky in South Australia that there have been a lot of these initiatives run over the years that helped us grow very quickly.
We’re getting to the stage where the money offered in these initiatives are no longer viable, and the opportunities are not helping us move forward. Nevertheless, we have yet to get a TV series off the ground and initiatives like this will help us get closer by helping us develop a relationship with broadcasters and get some of our work on the air.