Friday, October 31, 2014

Cartoon Network looking for new concepts by Filipinos

(Published Oct. 16, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“We’re looking for something that’s never been done before,” said Silas Hickey, creative director of Turner International’s Asia Pacific Animation Development, of Cartoon Network’s current talent search.

In a recent press conference, Hickey said the network had been looking around the region for the next cartoon concepts to develop.

“We do a lot of looking around especially here because there are so many people who can draw and animate really well.”

He added that, aside from artistic talent, Filipinos were familiar with classic and current animated shows. “I love this place—the thing about the Philippines that’s different from other countries is that I can have a conversation with anyone,” Hickey said. “Everybody my age knows about ‘Flintstones’ and ‘Herculoids’ and new shows like ‘Adventure Time’ and ‘Gumball.’ Everybody is enthusiastic about cartoons.”

Hickey was in town for the announcement and meetings with Wayne Dearing, founder of Cartoon Network’s local partner Top Draw Animation. Two new shows, “Exchange Student Zero” and “Monster Beach,” are being handled by the production house in its offices in Ortigas Center.

“Cartoon Network has an amazing studio in Burbank, which looks like Wayne’s studio here. It’s a conducive place [for creativity].”

Dearing, also Top Draw’s overall manager, told the Inquirer that Top Draw had been around since 1999, a company he founded after lengthy stints in other animation studios in Australia and the Philippines.

“[I and] many of the people who work for me, worked for (animation studio) Hanna-Barbera, which was, in the old days, buoyed by the same people who are in Cartoon Network. And, if you watch it, there’s a huge diet of cartoons made by Hanna-Barbera. So you might say that many of the Top Draw staff cut their teeth with the network.”

Dearing said Filipino animators could connect easily with foreign-made scripts. “The Philippines grew up … on a diet of Western culture [and] TV. [Top Draw] understands what the audience wants.”

Hickey added that he was “constantly surprised” at the “amazing drafting skills” of Dearing’s staff.
Hickey said he wished for original productions to originate here because of the impressive artistry he had seen.

Ideas for cartoons to be developed, he said, had to be humorous and unique and could be in any animation style: “We’re quite agnostic when it comes to medium; 2D, 3D … Eastern European style-animation … puppets, whatever works! Whatever tells the story better is going to be the medium that we will use.”

“Monster Beach” will air on Oct. 31, while “Exchange Student Zero” will premiere next year.

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