Pitching “Super Special” and presenting Google Spotlight Stories’ “Rain or Shine,” Felix Massie is one of this year’s young stars at Annecy. Variety talked to him about “Super Special (Best Friends),” a super hero project with a social resonance.
The title, “Little Idle Hands,” undoubtedly brings children to mind, but what is the meaning behind it?
That was a working title. The title is now… “Super Special (Best Friends).” It plays on the idea of each character having a superpower (which they don’t necessarily think is a good thing). The two main characters are best friends who live next door to each other. As a collective, the characters are super special best friends who are also superheroes. This title is a shorter way of saying it though!
Where did the concept and inspiration for this TV series originate?
The concept is partially inspired by two books I’ve had published where the kids have physical manifestations of psychological traits. For example, in my book “George Pearce and His Huge Massive Ears,” George has (you may have guessed) huge massive ears. His superpower is that he is able to hear everything everybody says. But it also means he listens to everything everybody says and so gets very confused about who he should pay attention to and what he should think. Each episode of the TV series would be a little lesson based around these kinds of quirks.
Why did you want the characters depicted with over-sized heads and ears and other features that might be considered abnormal?
I think it’s a really simple way of showing a child how everyone is different. Understanding what is going on inside people’s heads is quite a hard concept for even adults to understand. By showing a physical manifestation of it, hopefully it’s clearer (and also more fun!)
The synopsis says “every fantastical “problem” is a visual metaphor for something real. Is “Super Special” intended to send a message to children?
Yes, we wanted to show how everyone is different and everyone has strengths. No one person is always right, even if their approach to life has been right before, it doesn’t mean they know it all in every situation.
How is “Super Special” different –or similar- to other content your team has produced?
As a filmmaker it’s a lot less dark from things I’ve made before! I won an award in London with my last film and was contacted by a publisher about doing a children’s book – which seemed odd at the time. But I’ve really enjoyed trying to make ideas I’m proud of into things that children would enjoy, without losing the little idea that made it interesting to me in the first place.
How did the team come together?
I met Nexus’ Chris O’Reilly at Sundance when we both had films there back in 2008. I have since moved to London and we’ve been working on things since then. I’ve worked with Claire Cook, the development producer at Nexus, on several projects including “Wilderness Wiggle,” an interactive installation at a children’s hospital and our brand new 360 VR short “Rain or Shine” for Google Spotlight Stories, which we are previewing here at Annecy, so it made sense to carry on together.