Troika of Cockle, Little and Dembinski to lead

LONDON — HIT Entertainment is set to open the doors of HOT Animation, a Manchester based studio subsidiary to the British international children’s programming distributor.

The 10,000 square foot outfit will be headed by veteran model animation producer Jackie Cockle, director Brian Little and lensman Joe Dembinski. The troika has been responsible for such quality kids series as “The Wind in the Willows,” “Noddy” and HIT’s “Brambly Hedge.” The principals said they will hire freelance staffers on a per-project basis.

The announcement came Monday, the opening day of the Second World Summit on Television for Children.

The idea for HOT came about when the three parted ways with animation house Cosgrove Hall Films late last year and HIT was looking to continue the successful “Brambly” franchise.

On April 1, the new studio is slated to start production on another four half hours of “Brambly Hedge,” a reorder from the BBC. The first four episodes of “Brambly” aired on the Beeb domestically and sold to more than 80 territories worldwide.

The second production set to ramp up at HOT in July is a pre school series tentatively titled “Bob the Builder.”

“It would have cost us the same if we had commissioned the work out to other studios,” said Peter Orton, HIT’s managing director, about the £2 million ($3.26 million) venture. “And this way we keep all rights and the creative process in house.”

While the studio’s first two productions are HIT properties, HOT will eventually accommodate third party projects. The studio’s focus is model animation for television, but it may also take on title sequence, commercials or feature film jobs in the future, Cockle said.

HIT is a publicly traded company with catalog of 1,200 hours.

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