ANNECY, France — Flanders’ Joeri Christiaen, an auteur on Europe’s animation scene who caught attention with “Plankton Invasion” and “My Knight and Me,” has a new TV show in preparation, ”Roger Flambé: (Animated) Actor,” and is gearing up to make his feature debut, “Bleh, Sheep in Wolf’s Armor.” Both projects are set up at France’s La Cabane Productions and Belgium’s Thuristar.
Christiaen’s singular hallmarks take in a pronounced sense of humor lacing tons of action which sometimes near parody.
“‘Plankton Invasion’ is about climate change, but in an unexpected way –tiny plankton heroes wanting to speed up global warming, to flood the planet.
“Directing-wise, I like to surprise the audience as well – like ‘breaking’ a blockbuster-like action scene in a fun or silly way. I never keep things serious for very long!,” Christiaen explains. “Bleh” follows a sheep which no longer wants to follow the herd.
The projects represent the latest endeavors for an animator who works in one of the national drivers of European animation: Belgium.
Christiaen trained in animation at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, (KASK) in Ghent. After that he cut his career teeth in advertising and as a lead animator on Sylvain Chomet’s double Academy Award-winner “The Triplets of Belleville.”
In 2007, Christiaen created the IP of “Plankton Invasion” as an online mini-series which was adapted into a TV series, produced by TeamTO and presented at Ludwigsburg, Germany’s Cartoon Forum in 2008.
He directed short “850 meters,” produced by Thuristar –the company that Joeri founded in 2008, which became a 52-part series “My Knight and Me,” “a medieval comedy starring a knightly trio that set out to make the Dark Ages a little lighter and a whole lot more fun,” Joeri said.
Produced France’s TeamTO in co-production with Thuristar for France’s Canal Plus and TéléTOON Plus, Ketnet and OUFtivi in Belgium and Germany’s SRTL, “Knight” was sold by Cake Ent. to more than 150 countries and aired by Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Canal+ Plus, Super RTL, VRT, RTBF. It sold globally to Turner Kids, including the U.S.
Joeri was inspired by the “over-expressive style and comedic take” of Bill Plympton (“Idiots and Angels,” “Cheatin,” “Guard Dog,” ”Your Face”), and Chris Miller and Phil Lord (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”). I had the chance to have lunch with Chris and Phil and I was amazed to see how down to earth they were about ‘getting the job done,’” Joeri enthuses.