Animated feature set up at London's Nexus

MADRID — Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes, directors of 2009 Academy Award-nominated toon short “This Way Up,” are prepping “Cog,” their feature film debut.

The comedy turns on Cog, a supermarket worker rat from a favela blessed with an amazing voice.

Barred from entering a talent contest, Cog disguises himself with prosthetics as a cute mouse. He finds fame and fortune but risks losing his friends and identity.

Charlotte Bavasso and Christopher O’Reilly will produce for London-based Nexus Prods.

O’Reilly has written a full storyline; Nexus is now putting the project out to writers.

It was one of the higher-end projects pitched at last week’s Cartoon Movie in Lyon.

“This is an ambitious European film with a broad international audience,” said Bavasso.

O’Reilly added “Cog” has five key elements: Comedy, conflict, heart, visual spectacle and music.

He likened it to “Tootsie” and “The Blues Brothers”: “It’s a disguise comedy about someone aspiring to overcome prejudice, but there’s a strong soul music element through Cog’s own band The Beate Noire.”

If “Cog” has a message, Reilly added, it’s about investing in one’s own neighborhood.

Producers are currently exploring differing animation techniques, such as a hybrid of model-built backgrounds to create detail and warmth and CG-character animation for flexibility and control.

Set up in 2000, Nexus has produced short-form animation such as the 60s-style opening credits for Steven Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can” and the mock film-within-a-film “The Littlest Elf” in Paramount’s “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Smith and Foulkes are also known for their commercials work, such as a Coca Cola 2009 Super Bowl spot.

Nexus has two other animated features in development.

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