Yakkity Yak: A tale from Down Under
Yakkity Yak is one of the funniest and most irreverent series I have seen. It came to me from a studio in Sydney, Australia called Kapow pictures, run by the husband-and-wife team of Mark Gravas and Sandra Walters. They had Nickelodeon Australia on board at the time, but since it was a relatively new station the license fees were not substantial. We were able to sell it to Teletoon in Canada rather easily, as it was right up their alley. A Canadian/Australian coproduction was born, but we still needed 40% of the financing raised. We were able to work together with Tim Brookehunt, Kapow's Executive Producer at the time to bring in MTV International as worldwide distributor on the series, which went on to become a big success on Nickelodeon stations in the US and across the globe.
Being Ian: A Canadian success story
This series, created here in Vancouver and set in Burnaby, B.C., featured Canadian talent like David Suzuki, local hockey icon Trevor Linden, and rock band Gob. We had huge support from Telefim Canada and I brought Canadian animation giant Nelvana on board to distribute and market the series worldwide. It was a massive success on Canadian broadcaster YTV and went on to sell in over 100 countries. We produced 62 episodes and two movies, all financed out of Canada – a rare feat.
Canada/US co-ventures: North meets south for top results
The Canada/US co-venture creates great opportunities for financing. As Executive Producer, I redeveloped George of the Jungle with Classic Media in conjunction with the Cartoon Network, US rights holder Tiffany Ward and Teletoon Canada. Once it was green-lit for production, we were able to raise 50% of the budget in Canada based on tax credits on the work done here.
Internationally acclaimed Martha Speaks exemplifies the value of the Canada/US co-venture. As Executive Producer, I worked with WGBH in Boston to develop this book-based property and sell over 90 episodes to PBS in the US and on TVO and Knowledge Network here in Canada.
Navigating International Coproductions
The Amazing Adrenalini Brothers, a Canada/UK Coproduction with Pesky Entertainment, won a prestigious Bafta Award in the UK. It was tricky to finance, as we only could sell one season to YTV for budget reasons while the UK wanted 2 seasons. We had to gamble and take one license fee spread over two seasons and hope for sales to fill that gap so we were not exposed too much. It worked out, as sales were brisk based on strong creative and the unique format of 7-minute episodes. We also did digital deals like Miniclip to fill the gap. The strategy worked – YTV bought Season Two and the show was a creative and financial success.