Canadian shows screen at MIPCOM

Shows from Decode Entertainment, Cinegroupe Images and Nelvana placed high on this year’s most-screened product list at MIPCOM Junior, the two-day specialty market held in conjunction with MIPCOM, Oct. 7-11 in Cannes, France.

There were 695 kids titles – 319 new ones – available for screening at the 2002 mini-market compared to 785 in 2001. The top title was B-Bot vs. the Alien Posse, a coproduction between Decode and Sunwoo Entertainment of the U.S., followed by Decode’s Franny’s Feet and Fire Quest from Millimages in the U.K.

Other top titles included Creepschool (Alphanim, France), The Fairytaler (Egmont Imagination, U.K.), Corneil & Bernie (Millimages), Seriously Weird (Cinegroupe/Granada International), Girl Stuff, Boy Stuff (Decode), Clone High (Nelvana) and Bob Screen – The Defective Detective (Digital Salade, France).

Busy at Studio B

Vancouver’s Studio B Productions offered the industry a sneak peek at several new animation series in development, including Tinsellania, a Canada/France coproduction with partner Saban International Paris. The show, set in a zany but modern fairytale kingdom, has just confirmed a development deal for 26 half-hours with Family Channel Canada.

Other new original Studio B properties pitched at MIPCOM included Spot the Cat, starring a cat that thinks he’s a dog, and Flakes, featuring the crazy antics of Breakfastown ‘cerealebrities.’

Yvon of the Yukon, one of YTV’s top kids shows and a big hit on BBC Kids and Nickelodeon in Australia, Shadows and Being Ian, a 2D/live-action series, were also high-profile products for Studio B at this year’s market, says cofounder and partner Chris Bartleman.

New Suzuki series

Montreal exporter Filmoption International launched the new four-hour David Suzuki series The Sacred Balance at the market. The series is commissioned by CBC and exec produced by Robert Lang of Toronto’s Kensington Communications.

Sacred Balance, which has significant Web and publishing components, expands on the renowned scientist’s outlook on the interconnectedness of life and human beings in nature.

Filmoption represents about 100 Canadian producers in the export market, the majority from outside Quebec.

The drop in international sales began two years ago and was deepened with last fall’s terrorist attacks in the U.S., says Maryse Rouillard, president and founder of Filmoption. As a countermeasure they ‘have tried to lock sales as fast as possible.’

Filmoption’s Toronto office often plays an executive producer role for Quebec product requiring a presale into the English market. ‘And we do the same kind of work for English producers that need that kind of work in Quebec,’ says Rouillard.

Distraction rocks the boat

Launched at MIPCOM in 1997, Distraction Formats celebrated its fifth anniversary hosting a major ‘rock the boat’ yacht party at MIPCOM on Oct. 8.

Distraction CEO Michel Rodrigue launched Ciao Darwin (from RTI MediaSet) at this year’s market. The ‘reality-entertainment’ concept mixes large-group competition with fun.

Quebec productions being exported include Sexy Cam, broadcast on TQS and produced by Montreal’s Chic TV, and Camera Cafe, a scripted dramatic French format picked up by Reseau TVA. ‘It’s an ongoing office story from the viewpoint of the office coffee machine,’ says Rodrigue.

Another major format title pitched at MIPCOM was the male performance concept Strip Search: The Real Full Monty (from Screentime Australia, the original producer of Popstars). Leading into MIPCOM, Distraction announced U.S. reality TV producer Bunim/Murray Productions will produce a new format of Strip Search for the U.S. marketplace. Distraction will handle worldwide distribution, excluding New Zealand and Australia.

Strip Search is a family entertainment format keyed on young men going through their paces before taking a role in a professional male revue. Distraction’s catalogue has grown to more than 100 formats. The company is active in 37 countries with a sales staff of eight. Sales doubled each year in the first four years, with sales projected at more than $10 million this year.

Based in Montreal, with offices in Toronto and London, Distraction has just opened a new office in Los Angeles, headed by director Jean Huang.

Cirque du Soleil Images

Cirque du Soleil Images, the multimedia production arm of the world-renowned performance troupe, was part of the busy Canada Pavilion stand at MIPCOM. ‘First and foremost we were at the market to meet with industry players from around the world. This is the first time we have done this,’ says VP Vincent Gagne.

Cirque du Soleil Images pitched its entire TV catalogue, more than 20 original works including Cirque du Soleil The Fire Within, a documentary series coproduced with Galafilm; and Varekai, a live-action performance special shot in HD in Toronto and coproduced with Serpent Films of the U.K. Gagne says Cirque du Soleil Images is also developing a fiction series (13 x 60) in cooperation with API Productions of France.