A new adaptation of Anouck Ricard’s Anna and Froga stories transposes the friends’ exciting adventures to a colorful and bucolic universe that is sure to appeal to its target pre-schoolers. Camille Serceau, Executive Producer, and Nathalie Pinguet, Superights’ Deputy Managing Director, Sales and Acquisitions tell us how the stories made it from the page to the screen and offer a glimpse of Superights’ latest animation line-up.
Pre-schoolers can’t wait to make friends with Anna and her pals
Unifrance: How did you get the idea to adapt Anouk Ricard’s Anna & Friends books for the screen?
Camille Serceau: The adaptation of Anna and Froga – Editions Sarbacane, came from the fact that we instantly feel in love with the humorous and touching world created by Anouk Ricard. Even though Anouk was not writing for a young readership, for us the naïve graphic style of the characters was perfect for children’s animation. So, we worked with the author to adapt Anna and Froga for a pre-school audience. That’s how the Anna & Friends project, supported by France Télévisions, came about. Based on this overhaul, the series’ identity seemed obvious: Anna and her friends behave like a group of children playing at being grown-ups. To illustrate this concept, the development design and writing teams drew on three principles: originality, sincerity and humor.
Unifrance: Anna & Friends tells the daily adventures of Anna and her friends…
Camille Serceau: Anna and her friends live in a bucolic and colorful world. Anna and Froga share a lovely house. Bubu, Ron and Christopher live nearby, each in a home that reflects their personality… Our heroes live independently and are always on holiday! They face life with spontaneity and in an offbeat way, but always from a child’s viewpoint. When they encounter a challenge or an obstacle, the situation quickly takes on extraordinary dimensions for them. Something as simple as taking a photo can take on gigantic proportions when they get lost in their fantasy. For Christopher, the naïve worm, everything is always marvelous. For Froga, the energetic frog, everything is an excuse for another adventure. For Bubu, the dog that loves a challenge, it’s an opportunity to push himself further. For Ron, the laid-back cat, every day promises humor and observation. Anna is at the heart of each episode as the driving and unifying force. Full of innocence, she brings wisdom and tenderness, plus lots of humor.
Unifrance: Anna & Friends sounds perfect for upper pre-school children.
Camille Serceau: The notion of friendship is the show’s soul. Helping each other, kindness, learning, and solidarity are the series’ key values. Even if our heroes joke around, tease each other and often disagree, they always end up working together. Anna & Friends is a group adventure!
Unifrance: What steps did you take in production to stay true to the original books?
Camille Serceau: Working closely with our partner France Télévisions, we were able to escape from the usual format in which children learn within a framework of parental authority. Taking its lead from children playing with dolls and acting out different professions, the series takes its inspiration from the way they behave together. Thesincerity of our characters comes from their tenderness and their awkwardness, which aligns with the play-doh aspect of the graphics, with purposefully visible traces of fabrication. Using play-doh was an obvious choice for us right from the start when we were looking to animate the characters.
We also worked in close collaboration with the author throughout production; she was consulted at every key stage (for example, she validated every stage of every script and the 78 animatics), and she wrote 18 texts, working with Stéphane Melchior.
Unifrance: What feedback have you had from international buyers?
Nathalie Pinguet: Praise for the series has been lyrical across the world. We have received a lot of offers. France Télévision is the main co-production partner in France, with Viacom for paying channels in EMEA, LATAM and Asia. We have also had multiple offers from public channels looking to purchase the series. The animation series Anna & Friends (78×7’) has worldwide appeal.
UniFrance: Anna & Friends is Superprod’s latest production, but you have others soon to be available on the international market…
Nathalie Pinguet: Yes, in addition to Anna & Friends (78×7’), Superights’ line-up features several new programs. Firstly, The Adventures of Little Penguin (52×5′) which is a 3D animation series currently in production by Tencent. With high production values, this dialog-free series follows the lively and exciting exploits of Oscar, the little penguin, in which he meets other characters, all in a unique environment. Croco Doc (26×7′) is a 2D animation series that combines education and learning for pre-schoolers. This enriching program is the first designed to raise awareness about health issues among youngsters and to help them understand different illnesses, all in a fun but informative way. We also have new specials, like Giuseppe (1×26’), a 2D program, which shines the spotlight on a little hedgehog who doesn’t want to hibernate because he dreams of seeing the snow. Alma and the ice shadows (1×26’) is a special that follows Alma and her friend Azimut on a mysterious quest, while the Percy’s Tiger Tales (4×26’) specials take place during four specific times of the year: Christmas, Halloween, the summer and carnival time.