Nicolas Atlan, the president of animation at Gaumont, tells TV Kids that as the company looks ahead, there is a mission to build up its network of creators, co-producers and broadcasters/platforms around the world.
Gaumont has amassed a catalog that houses some 30 kids’ series and 800 half-hours of animation that are broadcast in more than 130 countries. Just over a year ago, the company endeavored to expand its animation activities in the U.S. It tapped industry veteran Nicolas Atlan to head up the growth initiative as the president of animation. He says that because of the Gaumont name, and its reputation and legacy, there is no shortage of great projects being brought to the company. Now, it’s about choosing the right ones to move forward with.
TV KIDS: What is guiding Gaumont’s animation strategy at present?
ATLAN: Our goal is to create a whole range of compelling and engaging children’s projects that will become part of the Gaumont heritage. We started building our development slate about a year ago, and now have 15 series in different stages of development between our Los Angeles and Paris offices, with a mix of original content that we create in-house, original ideas that are presented to us, and properties that are based on books or comic books, for example.
TV KIDS: How do you go about crafting the perfect development slate?
ATLAN: We are always searching for great ideas, of course, seeking out new and creative writers and animators, and at the same time, connecting with program buyers all over the world to keep abreast of what they are looking for, what has been working for them, and what hasn’t. This is the process we followed for three of our series that will be completing production by the end of this year and early next, and we’ll be screening episodes of them for the first time at MIPJunior and MIPCOM.
We have Trulli Tales, targeted to upper-preschool children, that blends the ancient arts of magic and cooking. The series was commissioned by Disney Junior EMEA, RAI, Radio-Canada and Globosat, and we co-produced it with Groupe PVP, Congedo Culturarte and Fandango.
Belle and Sebastian, targeted to kids ages 5 to 9, is based on an original live-action TV series from the 1960s by Cécile Aubry and follows the outdoor adventures of a courageous young boy, Sebastian, and his huge white dog. It was commissioned by M6, ZDF, Piwi+ and Knowledge Kids, and we co-produced it with Groupe PVP.
Furiki Wheels is a cartoon comedy for kids ages 6 to 11, created by Frédéric Martin (Dude, That’s My Ghost). It follows the adventures of André Furiki, a hyperactive young sloth who wants to travel the world. It was commissioned by France Télévisions and Disney XD (EMEA).
We’ll also be teasing two new shows for potential partners at the market. Jack Zero is a preschool series created by Alexander Bar—who also created Mike the Knight, Ranger Rob and Lunar Jim—to be co-produced with his production company, Milkcow Media. The series is about a dog called Jack Zero and his other pet friends who protect their owners and territory from the evil Robotic Pets. Komodo Chill is an original Gaumont IP created in-house by Thomas Digard. It’s about a Komodo dragon who lives on an island and just wants to be left alone, but the other island tenants have a different idea and spend their days harassing him.
TV KIDS: Are you also being strategic to try to target every age group?
ATLAN: We are aiming to reach every age, from preschool to action series for the 6-to-11 demographic to teens, but it’s more about the project than the age group.
Right now, some other series we have on our development slate that span different genres are Do Re & Mi, an animated musical series for preschoolers featuring original tracks performed by Kristen Bell (Princess Anna in the Disney film Frozen),Jackie Tohn (Glow, season eight American Idol finalist) and other surprise guests; Molly and the Cryptos, in development with France Télévisions and created by Mexico-based Miriam López, which won first prize at Pixelatl 2015—it’s targeted to 6- to 11-year-olds and tells the story of Molly, a 10-year-old, and her best friend, who is a mythological character from Mexico; and Bionic Max, in development with Gulli, about a malfunctioning bionic guinea pig and his goldfish buddy who escape from their laboratory to become express delivery boys in Central Park. There are also Mice Templar, which is based on a series of graphic novels created by Bryan J. L. Glass and Michael Avon Oeming; and The Star Shards Chronicles, an animated drama based on a YA novel that we optioned from The New York Times best-selling author Neal Shusterman.
On the theatrical side, we are in development on the animated feature High in the Clouds, based on the book authored by Sir Paul McCartney and Philip Ardagh and illustrated by Geoff Dunbar, and Plunder, written by Leo Chu and Eric Garcia that tells the story of a treasure hunter who is on the adventure of his lifetime with his son and daughter that takes a dark turn when they are confronted by a fearless dragon.