When Martin Sharpe’s animated short Still Life was a finalist at Tropfest last year, it’s doubtful he realised his little project could be expanded into a 3D series for Australian and international audiences.
Hamish Lewis, a co-founder of international distribution and TV and film financing start-up Escapade Media, spotted Still Life and immediately begun discussing projects with Sharpe.
Sharpe created the concept for Artie! – a 26 x 11 minutes, 3D animated TV series targeted primarily at 8-10 year-olds with a slight male skew and Hamish saw the market potential right away.
Artie tells the story of the title character Artie, an adventurous spirit who discovers he has the ability to enter other worlds.
Managing director Natalie Lawley plans to pitch the project at Mipcom Junior in October. She is talking to three animation production companies, two Australian-based, the other in Singapore, and hopes to have decided on the production entity before the market.
Lawley is arranging to meet with commissioning editors at UK and French broadcasters in hopes of clinching pre-sales and is searching for an experienced executive producer.
Still Life was named best student short film at the Cannes emerging filmmaker showcase and Sharpe received a Qantas film cadetship. He is creating a website and second app to turn Artie! into a multi-platform experience.:
That project fits Escapade Media’s remit of pursuing quality dramas, children’s and factual programming, which have a point of difference.
At Mipcom the firm is launching Flushed! , a C-classified live action game show for the Seven network aimed at kids aged 10-14, in which two teams answer multiple-choice questions before building a link between outlets and inlets. The losers end up in a giant tank of sludge.
The production company is Ambience Entertainment, part of OmniLab Media which has an equity stake in Escapade. Under their arrangement Escapade gets international sales rights to a number of Ambience's children’s TV series.
Escapade is partnered with WA-based Showrunner Productions in developing Status: Vacant, a 13 x 30 minutes series that will examine the background of abandoned towns and locations across the world.
The locations are likely to include Fukushima, Argentina and somewhere in Europe; Russia and the Ukraine were in consideration but have been postponed for obvious reasons.
She hopes to be able to soon announce the host, who will attempt to uncover the mystery behind the town, unveiling a mix of travel, culture and history. She has flagged the concept to her contacts at global channels and is heartened by the feedback.
The firm has just secured worldwide rights to Liam Taylor's crowd-funded documentary The Ride East Coast, which follows two lifeguards, Bondi Rescue's Trent Maxwell and Jesse Pollock, on their physical and emotional journey along the east coast of Australia as they talk to those affected by mental illness and raise awareness of the youth foundation Headspace.
Lawley and her two co-founders, director Anthony Mrsnik and sales and development executive Lewis, previously worked at the ABC. Lawley was manager of content sales at ABC Commercial, Mrsnik was manager of international acquisitions and business development and Lewis worked in ABC sales and acquisitions.