The first two episodes screened this year at Sundance, generating buzz that led to the HBO pickup. HBO has acquired worldwide rights to the first batch of episodes produced and has ordered a second season. The half-hour series is targeted for a 2016 debut.
“Animals” was created by New York-based advertising creatives Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano as a series of animated shorts revolving around downtrodden creatures — pigeons, rats, bedbugs, etc. — living in New York City.
“Animals” is exec produced by Mark and Jay Duplass through the pair’s Duplass Brothers Television banner. The brothers are already in business with HBO on the domestic comedy “Togetherness,” which wrapped its first season in March and is set to return next year.
“Jay and I have been excited about bringing the principles of indie film to the TV space, and to have our first real experiment land at a place like HBO for two seasons is beyond what we could have imagined,” Mark Duplass said.
Matarese and Luciano handle many of the character voices on the show. Mark Duplass, Katie Aselton and Nick Kroll are among the guest voices set for the series, which HBO describes as being for “adult” audiences.
Matarese and Luciano met while working at an advertising production company. “Animals” was born when the two noticed a pair of pigeons outside their office and began speaking to each other from the birds’ point of view.
“Pigeons” was the first animated short the pair produced. Screenings at various Gotham venues landed them berths at SXSW and Palm Springs Intl. Short Fest. A revamped version of “Pigeons” took the comedy prize at the 2013 New York Television Festival.
“Going from having made ‘Animals’ in the supply closet at our day job to making ‘Animals’ in a supply closet at HBO headquarters is an unfathomable dream come true,” Matarese and Luciano said.
Starburns Industries, the studio behind Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty,” produced the animation for “Animals.”
The Duplass brothers are repped by ICM Partners and Sloane Offer. Matarese and Luciano are with ICM, Mosaic Management and Morris Yorn.