After topping Ventana Sur’s Animation! series project pitches in 2017, filmmaker Fernanda Frick will be back in Buenos Aires – virtually at least – to pitch her new series “IRL Squad” at this year’s event, and has shared early details and artwork with Variety.
Frick’s animated series “Raise the Bar” was a hit at 2017’s Animation!, and eventually got a development deal at Netflix. Frick also directed the award-winning short “Here’s the Plan,” which played at several festivals globally and made the filmmaker a talent worth watching on the international animation scene.
“IRL Squad” turns on three best friends who have never met in real life (IRL), but pass countless hours together playing “Wonderfighters Online,” a fictional, massively multiplayer online roleplaying game full of magic and monsters.
While online one afternoon, Ivy, Renata and Lulu find a secret level which causes a supernatural glitch that allows the girls to teleport to one another through their computers. There is a catch however, as the creatures from the game are also able to transcend the borders of their game and enter the real world.
The series is set up as a Chilean production at Frick’s Fernanda Frick Studios, with long-time collaborator Glenn Lazo set to produce. However, since the characters in the series meet online playing a globally available game, international co-production possibilities are nearly endless.
Frick and Lazo have already produced a detailed trailer which they have sent to several broadcasters. As the characters come from different places, aspects such as language and location are malleable and subject to change based on the needs of future partners.
Several years back, while pitching “Raise the Bar,” a Spanish-language series about a female weightlifter which proved to be something of hard sell commercially, broadcasters often expressed a desire to work with Frick, but wondered if she was working on anything with a broader appeal.
“We put all our tears and blood sweat into ‘Raise the Bar,’ so when they asked if we had anything else, maybe something from our own childhood experiences, the answer was always no.” That is, Frick recalls, “Unless they want show about someone obsessed with video games whose best friends are all online…”
That struggle to find a home for “Raise the Bar” ended up being the impetus for “IRL Squad,” and the disappointment of one project not getting produced became the inspiration for what is one of Animation!’s best-developed projects. The characters are fleshed out, a bible is written, stories are planned and a trailer already animated.
All that’s left now is to find a co-producer and a broadcaster and make the thing. Frick and Lazo will be hoping that both are waiting for them at Animation!.