Friday, 31 January 2014

How a Random Call Led to a Series

In October 2011, I was heading to New York to see a reading of my TV pilot, Archangel in the Irish Rep. The reading was being produced by - and driven by - the wonderful Anna Nugent (who played the lead role) and Paul Nugent.

Because I know virtually no-one in New York, I put a call out through LinkedIn - anyone want to meet in New York on these dates? - and ended up meeting Natascha Crandall, an educational consultant who worked with children's (mostly animation) series. (It's an impressive list: Nickelodeon’s Peter Rabbit, Zack and Quack, Bubble Guppies, The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets, CBeebies’ Bing Bunny, The Octonauts, Sesame Tree, Sprout’s Driftwood Bay, and many Sesame Workshop.)

We had a lovely chocolate-filled meeting in a cafe that seemed to make everything - main courses, starters, every type of dessert with chocolate. I talked to her about WULFIE - currently in development with Monster Entertainment, with MEDIA support- and PUNKY (Geronimo Animation; second series is being officially launched February 3rd on RTE Junior alongside another series I worked on, WILDERNUTS (Kavaleer)). We talked about life in general - y'know, hopes, dreams, aspirations, need for chocolate on a regular basis - and decided we'd love to work together.

Roll on to last February. She had people interested in ideas and did I have any? Well, Wulfie was gone so I started firing ideas out of the ether -- far easier than getting them produced! -- and one of them stuck. ROXY & ROWENA. I did a bible, she pulled together an amazing curriculum in its support and we began to talk to animators.

And now, in little over a week it's off to Kidscreen! As if it's all grown up and ready to leave home! Natascha will be pitching it - so far - to Sprout, PBS, Zodiak, Sixteen South, Nick UK and Hulu.

And yesterday I got final animation from the wonderful artist,  Larry Ruppel (see pic to left) so now the bible can be finished.

It kills me that I won't be there to pitch this series alongside Natascha! It's a pretty personal project and a very sweet one and wouldn't it be amazing if it got picked up?!

At least it will be in good company because its older cousins WULFIE - an amazing project now after nearly eight months of development - and PUNKY will be will be somewhere there too.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Worms in The Wall... my new (live action) series!

The pilot script is written, the bible has been beautifully transformed by Tom Roche into something divine and this week my new series goes out to woo networks in pursuit of a slot!

Worms in the Wall is an idea I've been developing with Paul Donovan of Grand Picturesand I'm really excited about it. I've wanted for decades to develop something loosely based on the B&B my Grandmother ran in Dun Laoghaire from the 1920s and the seafront hotel (the Wavecrest) she took on in 1936. I've toyed with elements of it - the permanent winter residents my mother grew up with, the friendships residents formed with their landlady, the history happening all around them... but nothing had ever worked.

Until last September.

I've also always wanted to work on something with Grand Pictures. One of their most recent successes has been as co-producer with Sky of Moone Boy, a series I love. They were interested in one of my first family features back in 2003 but I took the film in a different direction. Still, it has been at the back of my mind and this year when I met Paul at the Galway Film Fleadh and he said he was looking for TV, specifically comedy drama, my antennae went up. I sent him a couple of series ideas that were ready to go and reasonably developed but neither of them stuck.

Then I remembered my Grandmother's B&B/ hotel... I sent Paul a one page pitch called Worms in the Wall. We met for coffee, he was passionate about the potential for the idea and I got to work. One deal memo later and Worms... began to seriously evolve.

It's great working with a producer who's on the same wavelength and as keen to get a project made as you are to write it. It's actually fun. You come away from meetings not feeling stressed or bogged down by notes but itching to get into the next draft. It's been a painless and pleasurable process.

Oh and if you're wondering where the title comes from, I once stayed in this really dodgy hotel while backpacking around Oz in 1987. In this hotel - they're really B&B's but if they serve drink, they're 'hotels' - Auld Lang's Aye played constantly. When I asked why, I was told that if they stopped playing it, all the termites would stop holding hands and the place would fall down.

I'm not sure what my Grandmother would have thought of that!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Date set for first Creatives in Animation Network event of 2014

Greetings and happy New Year to everyone!

The first CAN event of 2014 will be held on Monday February 3rd in the Roasted Brown Cafe space (thanks Fergal) in Filmbase (Curved St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2) from 7-9pm. Hope to see many of you there -- let me know if you can make it along by mailing me on!

There is no doubt but that creative collaborations have been happening at various levels among network members, which is exciting! This is the third year of the Network, so we're still only in infancy. For those of you who haven't heard of the network before, check out the dedicated page on this blog.

Carla Mooney, who joined the network in Galway, is behind the Silk Road film festival in Dublin this March and asked me to mention it. Some of you may even have films that would be a good match. The website is

(Logo design by Neil Delaney)