Irish Examiner 10 October 2012
By Dave Kenny
Two Irish-made children’s animation series have been nominated for Emmy awards.
Brown Bag Films’ ‘The Octonauts’, and Boulder Media’s ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’ will lead the charge for Ireland at the inaugural International Emmy Kids Awards next February.
The hugely popular ‘Octonauts’, which is made in Smithfield, Dublin, has been named in the Preschool category. It is pitted against nominations from Argentina, South Korea and Norway.
Brown Bag already has two Oscar nominations to its name for ‘Give Up Yer Aul’ Sins’ (2002) and ‘Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty’ (2010). The ‘Octonauts’ – which features the underwater adventures of a team of cuddly animal explorers – was also nominated for Bafta and Ifta awards in 2011.
‘The Amazing World of Gumball’, made by Dublin-based Boulder Media for Turner Broadcasting UK, features the exploits of a 12-year-old cat named Gumball and his family in the town of Elmore. It’s nominated in the Kids Animation category.
Brown Bag Films’ founders, Cathal Gaffney and Darragh ‘Doc’ O’Connell, told the Irish Examiner that they were delighted at the announcement, which was made in Cannes on Monday night.
“We’re ordering in some cake to the office today to celebrate,” joked O’Connell, who directs ‘The Octonauts’.
“It’s been brilliant working on the series, although some of my friends want to throttle me now that their kids have become obsessed with it. They’ve no room on the Skybox for ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Homeland’ because it’s all taken up with Octonauts to appease the little ones.
“The creators, Meomi, have been tough people to please because they have such high standards and are amazingly talented artists. We’ve always had to make sure our socks are well pulled-up in order to make them happy.
“Kurt and Adam from producers, Silvergate Media, have been amazing as well, always ready to work through problems with us. They completely understand when they need to trust us and let us get on with things.
“The head writer, Stephanie Simpson, is great at accepting feedback on the storytelling, so we can find ways to tell the best story visually, without ever compromising on quality. Having the head writer on your side can save a lot of heartache further down the road when you’re in the thick of production.
“One of the proudest moments of my career to-date was watching my little boy dancing to the theme tune when he first heard it on TV. It was pure magic.”
O’Connell’s Brown Bag partner, Cathal Gaffney, was in Cannes when he received the news.
“It’s great for Brown Bag Films,” he told the Irish Examiner, “and a real thumbs-up for the Irish animation industry in general.
“The nomination should be another reason for the government to retain the section 481 film and TV tax incentive scheme beyond 2015. Failure to do so would pose a serious risk to our ability to compete effectively for new business.”
Section 481 offers tax incentives for foreign producers to make films and TV programmes in Ireland. The Octonauts is made here by Brown Bag Films and produced by Silvergate Media for the BBC. The programme is watched by millions of children around the world.
Brown Bag’s most recent Disney series, Doc McStuffins, has attracted almost five million viewers and debuted here last week. It’s already the top-rated pre-school show in the US.
A second season is already in production, while its version of Irish writer, Niamh Sharkey’s, Happy Hugglemonsters will air for Disney Junior in over 150 countries this autumn.
The 2013 International Emmy Kids Awards Gala takes place in New York on February 8.