Nawak is a new short-format animation series from Fabien Limousin, produced by Je Suis Bien Content and distributed by Kids First Distribution. The clumsy yet endearing little Native American at the heart of this dialog-free series is sure to be a hit with the 5-7 year-old bracket the world over. Franck Ekinci the producer and Marie Lassal the distributor tell us how Nawak was imagined, drawn and brought to our screens. 

The Interview

Silence and charming clumsiness spell worldwide potential for Nawak

UniFrance: How did Nawak, your clumsy little hero, come to life?

Franck Ekinci : Fabien Limousin, the series’ author and co-director, is a compulsive designer-creator. He is always scribbling down ideas and designs, often with no particular objective, just for fun. That’s how Nawak was born – almost by accident – and was presented to JSBC among other varied and incredible ideas. It started off almost as a post-it style drawing – simple and quickly done, almost like a sketch for a newspaper. Fabien just wanted to have fun with the little character who is as clumsy as he is charming and, in terms of animation – after having made several series with dialog – wanted to rediscover the joy of a purely visual narrative.

UniFrance: The first thing you notice is its very original graphic style. 

Franck Ekinci

Franck Ekinci : Based on the initial designs, the Nawak universe was fleshed out visually and in terms of narrative through the contributions of graphic and literary co-authors, Julien Daubas, Sylvain Bec and Piano. The initial simple and rough design evolved into a style that remains simple and accessible but it has been enriched, for example, with regular strokes, more detailed backgrounds, and a larger color palette.

That said, simple does not mean simplistic, and underneath what appears to be quite straightforward design, direction and animation, Nawak is actually the result of a huge amount of work. Because telling a story non-verbally is a tricky task.

The stylistic references come, in large part, from Franco-Belgian comic books, mixed with the original graphic inventions of various artists that worked on the series. As well as wanting to keep it simple, we wanted to move away from the usual animation style “codes”, which are often denser, in order to give Nawak a certain visual lightness that fits with his character and the spirit of the series.  

UniFrance: How would you describe Nawak?

Franck Ekinci : Nawak is a positive anti-hero: he’s dreamy, sometimes clumsy, but above all enthusiastic and endearing. With Kawak, his faithful pony, (more a troublesome puppy than a real horse), Nawak is always trying to resolve – in his own very special way – the problems encountered by his friends and the animals that surround him.  While he never hesitates to take action, Nawak is also at the heart of many poetic moments – he’s sensitive to the nature in his environment…

UniFrance: What makes this program stand out?

Nawak is an adventure comedy, aimed mainly at 5-7 year olds, for whom friendship and difference are key concepts. Our little Native American lives with his tribe in the middle of nature, and he is inseparable from his friend Kawak, a (very small) pony that acts more like a dog. Nawak is a silent cartoon, with a speedy rhythm, emotional moments (often between Nawak and his pony), and little poetic interludes (Nawak enjoys admiring his natural surroundings)… The main character’s endearing clumsiness (and that of his faithful pony) does not stop him from completing his missions. His difference, which can create some crazy situations, is also his strength.

UniFrance: What is Nawak’s international potential?  

Marie Lassal : Kids First will sell Nawak worldwide and present the series to all different types of broadcasters – both linear and non-linear. Comedy series are the most sought-after among international animation buyers. The absence of dialog is a real asset as it facilitates program delivery and allows it to reach the air more quickly and without the costs of local dubbing. Silent cartoons are an animation classic, and our clumsy, endearing anti-hero has universal appeal.  

UniFrance: Nawak also has his place on the Internet…

Marie Lassal

Marie Lassal : Nawak’s short format (7 mins) and the absence of dialog are the primary assets that give this animation series produced by Je Suis Bien Content real added value in our non-linear rights catalog. The Kids First digital department’s strategy is based on several pillars: the first is B2C communication. We intend to create dedicated social networks. Fun, seasonal content (around the start of the school year, Christmas, etc.) will allows us, in a second wave, to invite our young subscribers to join our broadcast platforms. The second pillar is regularity in the broadcast of our content in order to create a sense of an “appointment”. Our aim is to share an episode of Nawak every week on YouTube and Dailymotion in order to create a weekly appointment and gets fans used to consuming new content regularly. Between the broadcast of each new episode, other previously unseen content such as teasers for future episodes and compilations will also be made available to our viewers on the different Advod platforms. This strategy can easily be adapted worldwide since we don’t need local-language dubbing. We are going to make the most of the series’ format, which is particularly appropriate for non-linear use, in order to raise the profile of our charming little Native American who speaks a universal language. 

UniFrance: And soon we’ll be seeing this little Native American from the wild west on our screens!  

Marie Lassal : The series has been shown on France 4 since the start of this school year, and episodes are available for replay on Okoo. Nawak will be launched by Kids First at MIPCOM. Broadcasters from across the world will be able to discover the series and watch an episode on the Reed MIDEM platform. Kids First will be in Cannes on UniFrance stand # R7.E2. and our staff will be very happy to provide more information about Nawak.