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Programming Profile

Galton offers buyers a slice of Cake


Ed Galton, chief commercial officer and MD at Cake, discusses the UK-based producer/distributor’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist and explains how the company is making the best of a bad situation.


Cake’s C21 Digital Screening playlist comes at a time when children around the world are having to stay at home because of coronavirus-related school closures.


As a result, linear TV viewing is on the up, with networks that have seen a dramatic slump over recent years now receiving a boost, while streaming services are also more in demand as parents busy working from home look to keep their children occupied.


Coupled with the disruption to the programming supply chain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an uptick in demand for ready-made children’s programming, says Ed Galton, chief commercial officer and MD at Cake.


A veteran distribution exec with more than 20 years’ experience, Galton oversees all commercial activities and the day-to-day running of Cake, as well as directly selling its growing content portfolio in major territories including North America, the UK and Australia.


Ed Galton, Cake

“There have been instances where people have reached out to us because they know we have a library of content they can tap into to fill some of the needs they might have as a result of the shortcomings caused by Covid-19,” says Galton.


Specialising in animation could prove to be a major strength for companies such as Cake in the near future, as many animation companies have been able to rapidly shift to remote working to keep their productions on track.


“We’re very lucky, as an industry and as a business, to be able to continue to trade. We are operating remotely and everyone is set up at home,” says Galton. Consequently, the productions it is currently working on for Netflix – Angry Birds: Summer Madness (40×11′) and Mama K’s Team 4 (26×22′) – remain on course.


Both those shows will be available globally on the streamer, meaning it’ll be a while before they become available in their second window to other buyers. But Cake has plenty of other programmes ready on the shelf for broadcasters and platforms with holes to fill.


Galton is eager to see buyers who may feel they need to fill the educational void left by school closures but are also conscious of the need to offer children light relief in dark times.


“We’ve been getting a lot of calls from people asking for educational content since the coronavirus. But people need to remember that this is a pretty harrowing experience that no one has ever seen before. As well as making sure children are learning, I also think we need to lend them some emotional support,” he says.


Kiri & Lou
Kiri & Lou

From the company’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist, the exec points to Kiri & Lou (52×5′) – the claymation preschool series about two dinosaurs exploring a world of feelings through laughter, song and outdoor adventure – as a show with a “really strong social, emotional message.”


Produced by Fiona Copland at New Zealand prodco Stretchy and Heather Walker of Yowza Animation, the series features the voices of Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Olivia Tennet (Shortland Street) and comes chock-full of distinctive Kiwi humour.


“Let’s not get too obsessed with learning maths, languages and science but try to find a balance with comforting shows that kids can feel good about and enjoy. Kiri & Lou is one of those shows,” says Galton.


Mush-Mush & the Mushables
Mush-Mush & the Mushables

Another programme on which the production wheels continue to turn despite the pandemic is Mush-Mush & the Mushables (52×11′), the CGI adventure-comedy series produced by France’s La Cabane Productions and Belgium’s Thuristar in coproduction with Cake. It follows a community of loveable mushrooms and their funny adventures.


“It’s one of those really well-made, beautiful shows with strong characters and fun stories. You laugh as you watch these characters trying to navigate their way through the forest, and there’s just something really endearing about it,” says Galton of the upper-preschool show aimed at four- to seven-year-olds.


Mighty Mike
Mighty Mike

Mighty Mike, French studio Team TO’s slapstick comedy, meanwhile, has seemingly been tailor-made for these testing times. The 78×7′ dialogue-free cartoon features a pug who longs for a quiet life but instead is forced to defend his house from a host of furry intruders.


“The data we’ve received from broadcasters has been overwhelmingly positive. Mike has performed really well all over the world and particularly in the UK, the US, France, Germany, Italy and Scandinavia. We’re starting to get requests for another season, and we’re working hard to make sure that happens as quickly as possible,” says Galton.


On the slapstick non-dialogue genre, which tends to ply a roaring trade on ad-supported VoD platforms, Galton admits there’s a lot of such content out there to compete with, “but most of it is not very well executed. Mighty Mike is the exception. It’s got a great visual look to it but also the storyboard work and the direction make it a strong show.”


Treasure Trekkers
Treasure Trekkers

Rounding off Cake’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist is action-comedy Treasure Trekkers (52×11′), which follows the intrepid adventures of three heroic mouse-sized adventurers who are tasked with preserving and protecting the priceless treasures of the world.


Again, the series has a strong social and emotional focus rooted in kindness and empathy. The characters learn to navigate their differences and discover that the most precious treasures – friendship, kindness and respect – are the ones that come from within.


Galton describes Treasure Trekkers, which is inspired by acclaimed photographer and author J.S. Friedman’s award-winning book series Maurice’s Valises, as “visually sophisticated and striking in its style.”


Executive produced by Agust Ingason of LazyTown Entertainment and Friedman, the show is made with Tenerife-based B-Water Animation Studios, using game-engine software Unity.


This method of animation can be far quicker than traditional techniques and could be used by many more companies to bring content to screens at speed, says Galton. Indeed, the former Xilam exec predicts that one consequence of the coronavirus pandemic is there will be greater demand for new content.


“People, and kids specifically, are consuming content at a ferocious rate, which means we’re going to have to deliver more. And if we’re locked in for longer, the need for new content will obviously increase rapidly.”


“We’re certainly developing more and pitching ideas to platforms to get them to come on board. We will tool up and produce, but differently from how we’ve done it in the past. The front end of production is not as labour-intensive as when you’re animating, so a lot of work can be done remotely without much of a hitch.”


However, demand for content is only significant for producers if broadcasters and platforms have enough money to pay for it. While Galton says he does expect buyers’ budgets to be challenged in future, “for the time being, it’s business as usual.”

More programming profiles

  • 21-09-2020

    Ed Galton, chief commercial officer and MD at Cake, showcases the UK-based producer/distributor’s new C21 Digital Screenings playlist and discusses how escapist content is vital for kids as they navigate the new Covid-19 world.


    Cake’s C21 Digital Screening playlist comes as the UK government reintroduces stricter social restrictions and children all over the globe continue to face school closures.


    With kids and families getting used to a home-centric new normal, children’s TV viewing has seen ongoing growth.


    “Over the last six months, you’ll see that there has been a lot of consumption of content being watched on various different platforms. Ratings on linear television in the kids’ space have also gone up, so that’s been very healthy,” says Ed Galton, MD and chief commercial officer at UK-based producer/distributor Cake.