Apart from Bluey and Blinky Bill, very few children's animated productions have come out of Australia for international release in recent years.
Today that's about to change, with homegrown and local female-owned Like a Photon Creative (LAPC) releasing its first film The Wishmas Tree in 17 countries worldwide.
Over the past six years Brisbane-based LAPC has made a name for itself through projects for Sesame Street and Disney, but now its 30-strong team has passed a new milestone with their first instalment from the colourful and furry universe of 'Sanctuary City'.
The film features voice-overs from actor Miranda Tapsell of The Sapphires and Top End Wedding fame, as well as English actor and comedian Ross Noble.
The Wishmas Tree is part of a three-part franchise that has all been produced in one go, with titles to come including 'Combat Wombat' and 'Daisy Quokka: World's Scariest Animal'.
Nadine Bates (pictured above left), who co-founded LAPC with Kristen Souvlis (pictured above right), says the stories emanate from an anthropomorphic story world that has allowed its creators to explore what life might be like without humans.
"More importantly it allows us to explore the moral and ethical discussions that we would like to be able to showcase for kids," Bates tells Business News Australia.The release marks a breakthrough for a business model driven by rolling production, business development and ideation schedules that break free from traditional media norms.
Bates and Souvlis both had experience writing and producing children's entertainment prior to founding the business, and it didn't take long before they realised a structural shift was needed to survive.
"It was really obvious to us that the way in which traditional media companies had functioned was no longer going to be sustainable," says Bates.
"We decided as a company that we needed to underpin both our creative and our developmental growth with technological underpinnings that would essentially allow us to raise capital to function as a tech company more than a traditional media company."
Changing the "feast and famine" media model
Bates explains traditional media companies tend to commit and invest a large amount of time into one or two ideas, becoming fully engrossed until those projects are complete and then there's nothing left to do.
"So they've crewed up but then it all has to close down at the end of production because there is no sustainable infrastructure, no sustainable work to buoy that entire company through to the next session of production," the entrepreneur explains.
"We're able to be constantly ideating and being able to scale up as opposed to falling down the normal pitfalls of production and development, which is a kind of feast and famine model.
"We cycle staff through production and development in order to keep fresh ideas, in order to keep that pipeline flowing effectively, and to make sure they all get that professional experience they need."
It is too early to discuss feedback, although there has been a surprisingly enthusiastic response from the Ukraine where a trailer has already clocked almost 500,000 views on YouTube. Overall, Bates notes staff involved in the project have been very invested in LAPC's vision.
"I think being the only female-owned and run animation company in this country, as well as having the kind of grandiosity of scale and ambition that Kristen and I have paired with a genuine desire to create quality content for young people, meant that people bought into that dream and that they wanted to be part of that journey with us from a very early point," she says.
But the key point is that Like a Photon is not just about one film or franchise. Every year the team is asked to pitch content for Sesame Street in the US and many segments have been produced from LAPC's studios in Rocklea.
"For Disney we have a couple of our properties currently, and whether they move into development on those, who knows? But we actually have at least 15 properties on our slate currently, and at least three of them will be greenlit in 2020-21."Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
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