Featured in this edition: 9 Story Media Group / Brown Bag Films, Apartment 11 Productions, BGM, Sphere Media, Happy Camper Media, Little Engine Moving Pictures Inc., Muse Entertainment, Portfolio Entertainment Inc & Boss & Co Ltd., PVP Media, Surprise Bag, Inc., TLN Media Group, and Vérité Films.
9 Story Media Group / Brown Bag Films
Karma’s World, from creator Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, launched globally on Netflix in October 2021, with new episodes coming soon. The series focuses on themes of self-expression, identity, leadership, creativity and the importance of community. The launch garnered over 1 billion impressions, with coverage from top media outlets including Billboard, People, Essence, BET, Variety, and Deadline. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges was interviewed on James Cordon, Steve Harvey, Good Morning America and the Today Show.
Karma’s World and Ada Twist, Scientist have both received nominations for the 53rd NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Children’s Program. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges was nominated in the Outstanding Character Voice-over Performance (Television) category for his role in Karma’s World as Karma’s dad. A nomination was also received for Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Television) for Halcyon Person, Head Writer and Co-EP on Karma’s World. Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum and Ada Twist, Scientist have both been nominated for Best TV/Media – Preschool at the 2022 Annie Awards.
New animated series Rosie’s Rules is currently in production. The show features a Mexican-American girl just beginning to learn about the fascinating, baffling, thrilling world beyond her family walls. It is slated to debut nationwide on PBS KIDS in fall 2022.
9 Story secured two greenlights with WarnerMedia for Cartoonito’s preschool block airing on Cartoon Network and HBO Max, including an Originals deal for new animated preschool IP Ladybird Lu and the 9 Story developed CBC original series, Dylan. Brown Bag Films is currently in production on Ladybird Lu, a comedic show that explores everyday dramas in the world of a three-year-old with a brand-new social life.
9 Story Distribution increased their AVOD business by 174% year-over-year in 2021, placing 4.3K+ half hours of content across top platforms, including new clients Peacock, Xumo, and FilmRise. 9 Story Media Group and Brown Bag Films placed 1st in Production in the 2021 Kidscreen Hot50 list, and 9 Story also placed 2nd in Distribution and 6th in Digital Media.
9 Story Media Group has joined forces with Plan International, a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. The partnership will aim to empower girls around the world to become fearless changemakers within their communities.
9 Story and Brown Bag Films combined have greenlit 18 shows since March 2020 and anticipate another six over the next six months. Brown Bag Films Toronto commenced building the studio’s first 3D-pipeline in Canada.
In an exclusive interview with C21 Media, 9 Story President and CEO Vince Commisso gave his predictions for kids industry trends in 2022, shared what’s next for 9 Story and the company’s mission to create joyful, positive content that helps give children a better future. Vince was honoured as one of the Canadian Academy’s 2022 Special Award Recipients, and was presented with the Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute Award for his extraordinary impact on the growth of the Canadian media industry.
Apartment 11 Productions
Season 3 of the Wacky Songs series has completed production. Wacky Media Songs, a 36 x 2’ musical series with a focus on media literacy, premieres this summer on TVOKids.
Production has also completed on Raven’s Quest season 3, also premiering on TVOKids in the summer. New series for TVOKids, Sunny’s Quest, is also in production and will premiere this summer.
Big Top Academy was nominated for an Award of Excellence by the Youth Media Alliance.
BGM, Sphere Media
Kid Food Nation: The Show Season 2 premiered on YTV in July 2021, and Seasons 1 and 2 can be streamed on STACKTV. Jam-packed with taste tests, fascinating food facts, and easy-to-create recipes, this delicious series puts the power of food into the hands of kids.
BGM Sphere Media is finalizing post-production on Gabby’s Farm Season 2, digital series Count with Gabby, and Backyard Beats Season 2, which will soon be available on TVOkids and TVOkids.com.
In 2021, Backyard Beats Season 1 won the Best Mixed Media Series Kidscreen Award and the YMA Award of Excellence for Best Program, Live Action, Non-Scripted (Ages 6-9). It was also nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Children’s or Youth Non-Fiction Program or Series.
It’s My Party Season 3 won the YMA Award of Excellence for Best Program, Live Action, Non-Scripted (Ages 9+). YTV Dayparts – The Zone, Zone Weekend, Big Fun Movies was nominated for a Kidscreen Award for Best Hosting Team as well as the YMA Award of Excellence for Best Program, Short Form (Ages 6-9).
Along with sister Sphere Media company Oasis Animation, pre-production has begun on the company’s first animated kids series Riley Rocket – an action-packed, music-filled comedy about diversity, inclusion and music. Riley and her band gain supersonic powers after cranking up the volume and causing an electrifying sonic surge during a band jam. Now they are secret superheroes who use the power of music to save the day! Release is currently scheduled for 2023.
Happy Camper Media
The original French version of 2D animated series La petite dragouille is now available for the preschool audience in Canada. Always eager for adventures, this little enthusiastic explorer of everyday life can be found in 15 episodes of 3 minutes and 30 seconds available on Radio-Canada’s ICI TOU.TV. It is based on the successful book series Les dragouilles, which has won over more than 325,000 young Quebecers since its first release in 2019.
Along with the TV series comes a web game: The Little Spudragon’s Art Show, in which children can create scenes with sets and accessories from the series in the form of stickers. It is available on Radio-Canada’s Zone des Petits. The series, which has been picked up by CBC / Radio-Canada Distribution as its official distributor, is now available for acquisition.
Happy Camper Média also produces the 2D animated series for kids 7- to 12-years-old, Super Agent Jon Le Bon!, winner of three Gémeaux Awards in 2019, 2020 and 2021 for Best Animated Series. As of February 2022, 50 episodes are now available to the Canadian audience and 50 are still in production. The new episodes will roll out throughout 2022 and 2023. Based on a best-selling book-based property in Canada, the series is distributed by Zodiak Kids for buyers around the world. Three web games and 24 podcast episodes featuring Super Agent Jon Le Bon! have also been produced.
Little Engine Moving Pictures Inc.
Little Engine Moving Pictures launched their rapidly expanding CMF-certified distribution division in 2021, picking up Canadian distribution rights to Imagine Create Media’s award-winning original series The Gumboot Kids, Space Kids, I Love, and Baby Baby. They also distribute Karen Levy Bencheton’s Sophie the Giraffe, the animated preschool series based on the iconic toddler toy, and WorldStar Network’s new tween show, BoyBand the Series, for North America. The distribution division has already achieved great success with international deals with Daekyo Korea, HITN (US), ABC Australia, and Hop TV (Israel), and they’ve versioned titles to French, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and Spanish.
Little Engine completed post-production on their first YA sci-fi thriller series, The Picco Incident, which they sold to Sci-Fi Central (Australia) and launches in early 2022. The short form series takes place over 24 hours when a family’s lives are upended when a UFO crashes on their farm.
The company has two new puppetry animated hybrid preschool series in late development: Tiny and Tall (39×7’, TVOKids), created by Madeleine Donohue, and Happy Trails (39×7’, CBC Kids), co-created by Canadian country singer George Canyon and Little Engine’s head of creative, Ben Mazzotta. The aim is to have both series in-pre-production March 2022, in production during the summer, and final delivery by early 2023.
Little Engine is securing domestic and international broadcast and streaming partners for their inaugural international co-productions for series in development: KCTV (Kitty Cat TV) with Saffron-Cherry Productions (UK), and BoyBand the Series with WorldStar Entertainment (Thailand).
Worldscreen featured Little Engine’s strengths as a boutique kids and family TV prod-co, as well as its ability to quickly pivot and shift focus to development and distribution during the pandemic-heavy months of 2021. Little Engine also received a great write-up from Kidscreen regarding its new distribution division and its 2 preschool series in development that aim be in production summer of 2022.
Animated series MOOSE!, based on the book by Robert Munch, launched on SRC & Tou.TV. Muse Entertainment won Best TV Movie at the Canadian Screen Awards for family film Christmas Jars.
Portfolio Entertainment Inc & Boss & Co Ltd.
HOMESCHOOLED, created by Karen Knox & Gwenlyn Cumyn, will be premiering on CBC GEM in Spring 2022, brought to you by BOSS & CO Film and Portfolio Entertainment. The series follows two homeschooled 16-year-old intellectuals who set out to make a documentary attempting to prove that homeschooling is superior to traditional forms of education. But the documentary, and their friendship, take an unexpected turn when one friend enrolls in, quote unquote, “real” high school.
After its rebranding last summer, PVP Media (formally Groupe PVP) has been producing the unique action-packed 3D animated mini-series 4 Days Before Christmas, in co-production with 3 Doubles Producciones & Capitán Araña from Spain and distributed by SC Film Distribution. This Christmas special (4 x 22 min. or 1 x 88 min.) is an original concept from François Trudel in collaboration with Sylvie Bélanger. Longing for wilder adventures, Santa Claus’ wish comes true when he bumps his head and starts believing he’s Superklaus: the famous super heroic Christmas Crusader. 4 Days Before Christmas is due to premiere on Radio-Canada, TVE, Canal+ and big screens around the world in time for Christmas 2023.
Surprise Bag, Inc.
Surprise Bag has partnered with Radar Cartoons on the first in a series of action-adventure middle school novels, Victor and the Infinite and Mysterious Hallway of Loos, written by company principals Frank Saperstein and Rita Street for Kids’ Code Green Publishing. A mini-series based on the book is in development with Mexico’s Anima Estudios.
Surprise Bag recently completed its commitment with Yeti Farm Creative. The companies formed a strategic partnership in 2018, resulting in a tripling of the studio’s growth through access to Surprise Bag’s client network. Surprise Bag serves as Executive Producer on animated preschool series Sweet Tweets for Knowledge Network and tween live action Kick Flip, co-created by Saperstein, in development with CBC. Saperstein also executive produced NBC/U’s primetime animated series The Pole, featuring the voices of Colin Jost and Jillian Bell, airing on Peacock.
Surprise Bag has expanded its business to include consulting on kids, family and animation industry evaluations, M&A, IPOs and strategic investment for major banks, investment funds and SPACs. Surprise Bag is actively seeking new partnerships and strategic alliances.
TLN Media Group
TLN Studios is in post-production on the fourth installment of its one-hour kids Italian language series, Mr. S, and its associated website. Hosted by a Canadian science and technology elementary school teacher of Italian descent, young students are encouraged to explore the world of science. Each episode focuses on Italian inventors and scientists and their connections to Canada and Canadians. The series airs on telebimbi TV and Mediaset Italia, while an English version is carried on TLN TV. It is also featured on CanadaWorld.TV and on the TLN TV and CanadaWorld channels as part of the free Go Plus onboard entertainment portal available to all Go Transit customers across their trains and buses. TLN Studios is pre-production on an English version of the series. The episode on John Cabot was part of TLN’s celebration of Canadian Multiculturalism Day and its marathon broadcast of original productions in Italian, Spanish and English.
Another just-delivered TLN Studios original, diverse-language children’s program and its associated website is season 4 of Mi nombre es Ripley. This Spanish-language series featuring an adorable and inquisitive French bulldog originally aired on Univision Canada. Mi nombre es Ripley will also be featured on CandaWorld.TV and Go Plus for Spanish-speaking Canadian preschoolers.
The Green Screen Saga, developed by Producer/Director Sean Cisterna, is in pre-production. This English-language TV series follows two adventuresome 10-year-olds with overactive imaginations who retreat from the monotony of their day-to-day lives by escaping into make-believe and fantasy.
Jeremy and Jazzy is an animated musical adventure series about song and story creation for 3- to 7-year-olds. Slated to launch in September 2022, this 360° brand is based on the music of Jeremy Fisher and showcases the award-winning voices of folk-pop artist Fisher and afro-pop artist Aiza Ntibarikure. It includes a series of 55 x 2 minute animated shorts, 2 x 11 minute animated specials, four albums, a series of books, an app, e-learning, licensing, and live tour opportunities.
Series executive producer Virginia Thompson is completing the brand’s first broadcast deal with CBC Kids and is in active discussions with buyers worldwide.
Jeremy and Jazzy has partnered with the Early Childhood Education program at Sheridan College to develop Jeremy and Jazzy Learn – an e-learning hub that will be housed on the Jeremy and Jazzy website.
Funding for Jeremy and Jazzy is provided by Shaw Rocket Fund, Canada Media Fund, Ontario Creates, and Vérité International Distribution.