Scrawl Studio & Wonky film to co-develop animated series, ‘iLand’ under MDA- South West Screen Initiative

By ANIMATION XPRES... | 25 February, 2011 - 12:06

Interview with Ervin Ann, Vice – President for Development, Scrawl Studios

Singapore based Scrawl Studio & UK based Wonky Film are developing an animated series iLand under the MDA-South West Screen Multi-Platform Content Across Continents Initiative provides support to encourage Singapore and British media companies to co-develop content with multi-platform elements. The initiative’s second instalment, launched in December last year, included a series of business mentoring, training and networking events that were aimed at facilitating collaboration between Singapore and British media companies. This culminated in a call for proposals in February 2011.

iLand, is aimed at children aged 6 to 12, and the project is supported under the first installment of the Multi-Platform Content Across Continents Initiative, which is a collaboration between the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) and South West Screen, its counterpart in the South West of England.

Mr Ervin Ann, Vice-President for Development, Scrawl Studios, shares his company’s experience on the co-production.

How did iLand come about?
Wonky Films first came up with the concept. It contacted Scrawl at a very early stage of the project through a South West Screen contact. The show’s premise struck a chord with us immediately, and we particularly liked the quirky character designs. At that time, the target demographic, story ideas and comedy hook of the show weren’t very developed, so we worked with Wonky to shape the project to what it is now.

How will iLand appeal to its target audience?
It’s a funny, quirky show with great design elements. The concept touches on humans’ relationship with nature and technology. That might sound a little profound for a kids’ cartoon, but we’re packaging it as a crazy comedy-adventure filled with fun and over-the-top characters. I believe kids will get the underlying theme and make their own meaning of it.

What is your studio responsible for?
Scrawl Studios has been mainly involved in some of the pre-production work, such as location and character design, as well as the animation work up to final composite. Earlier on, our team also contributed to script development and helped fine-tune some of the storyboards.

How has the working experience with Wonky been?
It has been fantastic, really. From the get-go there has been an alignment of creative vision, and differences, when they happen, have contributed to the overall process and made the results stronger in the end.

Challenges are often the same ones for any production – budget, deadlines, production issues, etc. Perhaps the Bristol accent is at times a little hard to grasp for some of our staff, and it may also be so vice versa, but these aren’t really problems. In fact, these differences make the partnership much more interesting, and the diverse perspectives are helpful.

What are some of the lessons learnt from this experience so far?
This partnership has taught us about what makes a co-production fulfilling and successful: constant communication, openness in creative input, clarity about roles and responsibilities, a well-planned workflow and a willingness to step in for each other while always serving the greater need of the project.

How has the Multi-Platform Content Across Continents Initiative benefited Scrawl Studios?
It has allowed us to work with a wonderful overseas studio and provided us with the support to develop a multi-platform project from scratch. Development in animation can be expensive and uncertain, so many studios are careful about putting resources into such ventures. Hence, any support to develop more original projects, whether independently or in partnership with others, local or overseas, is always helpful.

Besides TV, what other platforms will iLand be extended to?
TV is the anchor platform. The project is also currently being developed for online and mobile platforms and possibly other handheld devices. Publishing is also an area we may look into.

When will audiences get to see iLand?
The project is at the development stage. Our priority is to secure stronger interest from the market, specifically from broadcasters, distributors and commercial partners. We did our first round of pitching last year at MIPCOM. Then it’s about putting the financing and creative together into a complete package for a production green light. The hard work is really still to come.