Alumni of London’s elite Escape Studios, writer-director Sarah Andrews and assistant director, animation lead and sound designer Aaron Hopwood, participated in this year’s Cartoon Springboard project pitching sessions, looking to leverage the success of their short student film “Jerich0” into a short form series adaptation.
“Jerich0” started life as a one-minute, third year VFX and cross-discipline student film that ended up spreading across the planet and featuring in several prestigious festivals and award shows. Honors include Nexus Film Awards’ best VFX and best animation prizes, a BAFTA selection for best student animation and a BFI London appearance in the Family Screening section.
The short follows Jerich0, a lonely robotic lizard who climbs out of his toolbox house and sets out to construct a robotic friend. In the series, other miniature characters will join Jerich0 in his micro world and explore life beyond the workbench. Jerich0 and his friends are 3D digitally animated and superimposed over a real set, where they will have access to tools, a computer, a 3D printer and more.
So far, the “Jerich0” team has synopses for 26 episodes which can be adapted to be more educational depending on potential broadcaster needs. Episodes are planned to be around five minutes, although after discussions with Cartoon Springboards’ industry panel, Andrews clarified that the team would like to produce longer segments of around seven to nine minutes.
According to the “Jerich0” team, the show’s short episodes make it ideal for digital platforms or as bumper content between slots on linear TV. Currently, discussions with potential producers and studios are underway.
“The most helpful thing we have learned is how to refine our project for a specific target audience. Children’s TV is notoriously difficult to market for, so getting advice from senior industry experts is invaluable for this,” Andrews told Variety after the presentation had wrapped. “Going forward from Springboard, we are more knowledgeable about exactly what our target audience should be and how to tell our story to them.”
Part of that marketing plan includes cross media opportunities such as toys, video games and mobile content. It’s an ambitious plan for such a young team, but if reactions at Cartoon Springboard are anything to be judged by, a realistic one. Several panelists requested further meetings and compared the series’ potential to that of Aardman classics such as “Shaun the Sheep” or “Morph.”
“The next steps are to follow up with a number of contacts we made at Cartoon Springboard as well as refining our pitch documentation,” Andrews explained. “We shall see where it takes us from there!”