It's an interesting concept - we all want our shows to travel - but yet be original and fresh and new. PUNKY has managed it - Series One has sold all over the world to as diverse a range of territories as Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Qatar, Denmark and the US. There's even an episode on YouTube in Turkish! Hopefully Series Two will too... and Wulfie... and Roxy & Rowena...
If you want to catch up on the previous content, here are the links to
Creating Content for Kid's Shows Part 1: Standing out from the crowd
Creating Content for Kid's Shows Part 2: The broadcasters
How to be International...
- Create a world that could be set 'anywhere' or somewhere fictional.
- Find a universal theme.
- Curriculum issues.
I ran into this many years ago with a storyline pitch for an existing series. The title I'd chosen to develop into an outline involved the North Pole. So I used Santa. Without giving the story away - because a producer expressed strong interest in it as a feature film a few days ago! - it was a neat little tale with a twist involving science and magic and wish fulfilment and making things better and allsorts of nice things and it really worked. I could see it.
Only it didn't. Santa was too 'culture specific' for the Asian market. I did one about an Ice Hotel with a basement full of kidnapped animals instead... but it's funny, that original idea never went away cos I know it works. Maybe now it will resurface and become my first Christmas feature!
- Tone and voice/ Writing talent...
But otherwise, in scripts travelling internationally, the rule of thumb seems to be that you have to find a universal phrase/ word - ie not idiosyncratic to the culture from which you come - "Or American, if there isn't one".
- Jokes and references
I was told once that the fantastic thing about writing a children's animation series is that the audience 'renews' itself every four years -- if you can make your characters and stories appeal, especially internationally, it could run forever. Or be re-created anew every so often like Ninja Turtles who no longer look much like the series I knew - far more beefed up!