Cuppa Coffee Eyes Partners for Osbournes Series


TORONTO: Cuppa Coffee Studios, the Canadian animation outfit that is celebrating its 20th anniversary, will be at MIPTV looking to complete the financing on a new 20-episode prime-time animated series about rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his family.

Adam Shaheen, the founder and president of Cuppa Coffee Studios, says the show came out of a “chance meeting” with Ozzy’s wife, Sharon, and kids Jack and Kelly. “They knew our work and were curious for us to pitch them an idea for an animated show,” Shaheen tells World Screen Newsflash. “They’d not been on TV as a family for years,” since The Osbournes ended its on MTV in 2005. “We’ve got a full bible. Now I’m in the lovely position of trying to finance it.”

MIPTV will also provide Shaheen with the opportunity to talk up some other Cuppa Coffee titles, notably Let’s Go Bruno, the latest iteration in the company’s Bruno preschool franchise, which Shaheen created about seven years ago. “Bruno started as a series of interstitials. Then we did [a half-hour series] Bruno and the Banana Bunch, and now we’re doing Let’s Go Bruno, which has him in live-action land. It’s a live action 2D flash mix. That’s a brand that keeps evolving.”

Shaheen points out that 2D flash is an area that Cuppa Coffee is continuing to develop an expertise in, both for its own IP and for work-for-hire projects like Comedy Central’s The Ugly Americans. The studio is perhaps best known for its stop-motion animation capabilities, having working on such shows as Glenn Martin, DDS and Celebrity Deathmatch. This knack for stop-motion traces back to his days as an illustrator, Shaheen says. “I was always very hands on making stuff. When I started Cuppa Coffee, the first couple of years were very much based in broadcast design and commercials and drew heavily on my own personal mixed-media illustration style. Stop motion was part of that mixed-media thing. The more we did, the more opportunities provided themselves. You find yourself in the enviable position of being the go-to stop motion studio for a lot of projects.”

Shaheen continues, “I’m not sold on always being the stop-motion guy, although that has been our bread and butter and it’s been a lot of fun doing it.” Indeed, while Cuppa Coffee is also trying to bill itself as the go-to studio for 2D flash, Shaheen is keen to take the company’s stop-motion skill-set into the feature-film world.

“We’re doing 20 to 40 half hours—two series—in 14 months. Other companies that are doing stop motion to the extent that we are have upwards of $70 million to $80 million to do 80 minutes [in the same time period]. For 2012, the goal is to position ourselves as the clever people who can do the same quality work as these high budget feature films. We have a way of working, a set of talent here that can achieve a lot more for less.”

Ultimately, Shaheen notes, “I actually like not having the same day twice.” Looking back on his 20 years of building Cuppa Coffee, Shaheen says, “It was always my dream to create a very happy, functional company. Here we are 20 years on with 200 people, probably the largest stop-motion studio in the world that does television, and we’re a happy, functional studio that looks after people.”