The ABC and Screen Australia today unveiled four children’s series including a Gristmill Productions comedy co-commissioned by Netflix and the first TV series from creators Matt Zeremes and Guy Edmonds.
Flying Bark Productions will produce an animated series spin-off from the feature 100% Wolf and Matchbox Pictures is making a second season of Mustangs FC.
Despite the government-imposed budget cuts the ABC was keen to point out its funding of Australian children’s content grew 39 per cent in 2017-18, supporting emerging and established Australian talent for broadcast and digital audiences.
Netflix has the rights outside Australia/New Zealand to Gristmill’s The InBESTigators (20 x 30′), which is set in an Australian detective agency run by four eleven-year-olds who manage to solve one school or neighbourhood mystery after another. Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler created the show, with each episode dealing with a mystery and inviting viewers to see if they can crack the case before the amateur sleuths.
Abby Bergman, Anna Cooke, Aston Droomer and Jamil Smyth-Secka head the cast. The writers are Butler, Hope, Molly Daniels, Lisa Marie Corso, Maddy Butler, Jayden Mascuilli and Bob Franklin. Hope and Butler are directing together with Ian Reiser and Nina Buxton.
Zeremes and Edmonds created Hardball (13 x 26′), a live action comedy which follows fish-out-of-water Mikey and his misfit mates Salwa and Jerry. Their goal is to make Mikey the best handball champ that Western Sydney’s ever seen. The duo is producing with Northern Pictures’ head of kids Catherine Nebauer and Joe Weatherstone.
It was one of a number of ideas which Zeremes and Edmonds pitched to Nebauer, who optioned the project for development and set up a writers’ room. After a fleshed out Bible was completed they took the concept to the ABC’s Michael Carrington and Libbie Doherty, who immediately agreed to further development.
The ACTF’s head of development and production Bernadette O’Mahony then came on board to further develop the series and to handle international distribution. Shooting starts on July 9.
“Matt and Guy have been a fantastic team to work with – the scripts are fresh and funny, they are incredibly hard working and have written a really funny and engaging 13-part series,” Nebauer said.
Flying Bark’s Michael Bourchier and Barbara Stephen will produce 100% Wolf (26 x 22′), a comedy about Freddy Lupin, an 11-year-old boy who is set to turn into a werewolf, just like everyone else in his family. Things don’t go as planned when Freddy turns into a poodle instead. Germany’s Super RTL co-commissioned the series and Studio 100 is handling international rights.
Screen Australia in association with Create NSW and Screenwest funded the 100% Wolf movie, based on the book by Western Australian author Jayne Lyons and directed by Alexs Stadermann; Universal Pictures will release in Australia.
Produced by Amanda Higgs and Rachel Davis, the new series of Mustangs FC (13 x 24′) sees the all-girls soccer team face a new season and new challenges including bullying, body image and sexuality as well as the politics of moon cups, menstruation and mansplaining. Shooting starts next week. The first series was acquired by the UK’s CBBC and Universal Kids in the US, distributed by NBCUniversal.
ABC director of entertainment and specialist content David Anderson said: “The ABC is committed to telling funny, engaging and innovative Australian stories for children, created by some of our finest local creatives. These new programs deliver on the ABC’s strategy of focusing on high-quality and distinctive Australian content to inform, entertain and inspire children of all ages.”
Screen Australia’s head of production Sally Caplan added: “It’s vital that young Australians are able to see their country, their stories and hear their accent reflected on the screen, so we are incredibly proud to be working with the ABC on this significant slate of children’s programs.
“The characters in The InBESTigators, Mustangs FC, 100% Wolf and Hardball are distinctive and inclusive, and tell stories that are innovative and culturally significant. We have high hopes young viewers will connect with these tales and keep enjoying Australian content as they grow up.”