Portfolio Thrives in the Kids’ Space

TV Kids sat down with Joy Rosen, CEO and co-founder of Portfolio Entertainment, to discuss the company’s productions in the kids’ market and what’s driving the current growth.

Now in its 25th year of doing business, Portfolio Entertainment, founded by Joy Rosen and Lisa Olfman, produces and distributes a range of content, including children’s programming, as well as factual and lifestyle. ”We’re at a time in the business where if you don’t grow, you won’t be relevant,” says Rosen, who serves as the company’s CEO alongside Olfman. “What’s driving our growth is our will to grow.”

***Image***“We decided to put the pedal to the metal, open up an animation studio [Portfolio Animation] and take some risks,” Rosen says. “That’s really what has motivated us. I’m glad we took those chances, because after doing what you’ve been doing for many years, you need to shake it up; you need to see what else you’re capable of. Changing our business model and taking on managing a studio has been very fun, it’s like a new business for us. It’s a related business, but it’s a whole new challenge, and that kind of excitement begets excitement in other areas.”

According to Rosen, opening Portfolio Animation has allowed for more development projects, which in turn have led to more productions. “You’ve got to have a lot of projects in development to get anything into production,” she explains.

One animated series that has already proven to be a boon in Portfolio’s library and contributed to the company’s success in the international kids’ market is Freaktown. The comedy follows a skeleton named Ben Bones as ***Image***he and his friends and fellow freaks try to fend off Princess Boo Boo of Sweetlandia, who wants to take over Freaktown. The series has been sold to Cartoon Network in Asia Pacific for Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, as well as to ABC Australia. It has also been licensed to Turner’s kids’ networks in EMEA, including Boing in France and French-speaking territories in Europe and Africa; Sony Pictures Television’s U.K. channel Kix; DR Ultra in Denmark; Disney for its channels in India; and Clan TVE in Spain.

Rosen believes Freaktown has done so well internationally because it is not culturally specific. “Every culture can relate to the characters, so that works very well internationally,” she says. “The series is humorous, and there’s a lot of action and slapstick in it, which travels very well because it’s not too language-oriented; you can almost turn off the sound and enjoy the story.”

Rosen reports that Portfolio currently has more productions than ever before, including two projects in development with Corus Kids in Canada. The first is Invasion of the MooFaLoo!, for which Portfolio has partnered with TELETOON and U.K.-based production company Giggle Media. The animated series is about three genetically modified rocket-powered sheep that fight to protect the world from the MooFaLoo, a race of alien monk cows intent on invading planet Earth. “We’ve had a lot of warmth toward this project,” Rosen says.

Portfolio is also developing Doberman and Pigeon with YTV. The show follows the adventures of a regular dog living in a housing complex where all of the animals have fun together while their humans are out. The lovable canine believes he becomes a superhero named Doberman whenever he puts on a cape that his human gave him. He solves mysteries and crimes and rescues damsels in distress along with his sidekick, Pigeon.

In addition to animated series, Portfolio is looking to stay ahead of the curve and is moving forward with live-action projects. Rosen says, “Live action is making a big comeback right now, so we’re developing a number of these types of projects because that’s what you need to do to stay in business, to stay current. You have to go where the ball’s going, not where it’s been.”

She adds, “We have a fabulous team, including a fresh, young sales team, and that’s simulating growth. They stimulate Lisa and me, and we throw it back at them and say, ‘Come on, let’s go. The sky’s the limit.’ That’s our philosophy right now. We’re a fun company to work for because there are very few limits. If someone has an idea and wants to go with it or thinks there is a business area or an avenue that we should be exploring, the response is, ‘Go!’”