Cartoon Springboard Highlights ‘Trip to the Antarctic,’ Debates Animation for Young Children

An animated adventure involving two young Arctic terns on a epic flight between polar opposite ends of the earth featured among the pitches heard by Cartoon Springboard’s final panel on the closing day of this year’s event.

Scriptwriter Eva Perez Misa’s “Trip to the Antarctic” is a 13-part, 2D animated series that aims to make preschoolers more aware of environmental issues.

With each episode comprising of seven minutes, the show tells the tale of two small bird siblings – the confident, brave and boastful Timmia and the more thoughtful but timid Ungak, as they make their annual 60,000km migration from the Arctic to the Antarctic Circles.

The young terns’ journey takes them through Belarusian swamps and quiet Greek forests as they learn about nature and the consequences of climate change.

When the fledgling adventurers are separated from their family, the journey takes on an extra poignancy, as the siblings also learn more about each other.

The Spanish-Argentine animation scriptwriter – a graduate of the Madrid Film School (ECAM) – pitched the show as “an adventure, rather than an educational series,” likening it to pre-school shows “Puffin Rock” (Ireland), France’s “Sammy & Co,” and the 1980s Spanish classic “Around the World with Willy Fog”.

Nuira Gonzalez Blanco, producer at Ireland-based animation studio Cartoon Saloon, who has worked on “Puffin Rock”, congratulated Perez on her clear pitch, which she thought was “a beautiful idea.”  She advised, however, that the writer think carefully about the project’s target demographic.

“For preschoolers, losing parents is a scary thing and ecology is also a complex issue for them to understand,” she said, adding that a six-to-nine age group might be a more appropriate target.

In response, Perez believed that 6-9s preferred human characters rather than animals, but fellow panelist, Ivan Agenjo CEO of Barcelona-based Peekaboo Animation, assured her that so long as the writer nailed the characters, this aspect didn’t matter.  “It’s all about the story, the humor and the tone,” he said.

Agenjo also advised Perez to partner with an expert who could help the scriptwriter marry the ecological themes with the understanding of her target audience.  “Having an expert on board will also give broadcasters more confidence to pick your show over someone else’s,” he added.

Karen Mitrega, former head of children’s content at Super RTL, and now a creative producer with her own consultancy (Storyegg) also advised Perez on some of the 360 ideas she had for the project, which the writer had focused on for her series bible.

“There’s a 360 checklist that suggests small actions children can take to help save the planet that’s nice but parents will be involved so make sure it doesn’t become too much like hard work!

Mitrega suggested that Perez look at “Lazy Town” the Icelandic healthy living show for younger children, which she said successfully managed to incorporate parental involvement.

Cartoon Springboard’s sixth year was an entirely online affair, although the panels still gave 22 specially selected pitch assessments spread across two and a half days.

The annual event – which helps graduates adapt their projects to the needs of broadcasters, streamers and distributors – is open to graduates of European animation schools who have completed their degrees within the last five years.

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