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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Jetpack Distribution

Programming Profile

Jetpack gets animated about toons

22-01-2021

Dominic Gardiner, CEO of Jetpack Distribution, is surfing increased demand for animation and talks us through the new properties on the company’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist.

 

UK-based Jetpack Distribution was launched in 2014 by CEO Dominic Gardiner as a boutique children’s content distributor. With a library of over 1,400 half-hours, the company works with 33 producers to curate a catalogue of high-quality kids’ programmes with international potential.

 

The majority of Jetpack’s international distribution catalogue comprises animation, because, according to Gardiner, these shows travel really well.

 

“In terms of global distribution of children’s content, animation is brilliant for crossing borders, whereas live-action is usually distinctly local. We have great quality shows from both genres in our catalogue but it’s fair to say that animation is definitely having a moment right now.”

 

In light of that, Jetpack’s playlist on C21’s Digital Screenings consists of 10 animated/puppet series and one live-action show.

 

Gardiner
Dominic Gardiner,
Jetpack Distribution

First up in animation is Mighty Little Bheem, about a loveable, curious and universally relatable toddler from Indian prodco Green Gold Animation. The preschool show was India’s first Netflix original animated series and was released in 190 countries in 2019.

 

Mighty Little Bheem
Mighty Little Bheem

“There’s no dialogue, so it’s like Mr Bean or Tom & Jerry; the comedy all comes from the visuals,” Gardiner says. “So even though it’s incredibly local in terms of the look and feel, it doesn’t matter. The quality of the animation is fantastic, it translates very well and is very funny.

 

“Mighty Little Bheem was actually trending as one of the number one shows in the world for Netflix, for kids in all territories. That’s not just in southern Asia but across the entire world. It’s a standout show.”

 

Another series Gardiner is particularly proud to represent is Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed, based on UK classic comic character Dennis the Menace. The first season of the show, which follows the adventures of Dennis and his friends in Beanotown, is watched in more than 90 countries and was nominated for an International Emmy. The second season, on which production is currently wrapping, will have even more global appeal, according to Gardiner.

 

Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed
Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed

“We have sold Dennis & Gnasher really well across the world. One of the big changes in season two is the creation of a new schoolteacher; Dennis has gone into a new school year so has a new teacher. The previous schoolteacher was a batty little old lady, but we found it was a little bit too British. So we thought we’d go for something more global and now have a South Asian teacher who takes the class,” he says.

 

Gardiner is also excited about new series The Misadventures of Master Moley, which follows an adventurous mole who lives deep in a burrow under Windsor Castle in the bustling city of MoleTown. He is the keeper of a magical book, which has the power to bring peace between humans and moles.

 

The Misadventures of Master Moley
The Misadventures of Master Moley

The show was originally produced as a 30-minute special and is now in development for a full series, following which it will premiere on WarnerMedia’s platforms across EMEA.

 

“WarnerMedia’s commitment to all of EMEA from the get-go was really quite a big thing for us,” Gardiner says. “There’s a lot of interest from free-to-air channels across Europe for a second window. We’ve got strong interest from networks in Lat Am and USA.”

 

Also in Jetpack’s playlist are preschool series Clangers, about a family of pink mouse-like creatures who live in space; Kitty is Not a Cat, about a little girl with a big imagination who is determined to live the life of a cat; and Chuggington, a CGI series that follows three young trains as they learn to ride the rails.

 

Clangers
Clangers

Preschool show Becca’s Bunch, meanwhile, follows the adventures of a little puppet bird and her woodland friends, while Wolf, which is based on a book series, tells the story of a young wolf who wants to try anything and everything, from becoming an artist to dying his fur green.

 

Completing the animation line-up are Daisy & Ollie, which encourages preschoolers to question the world around them; comedy series The Sisters, which is based on the comic book of the same name about a pair of siblings with very different personalities; and Emmy & GooRoo, a preschool show set in a magical forest.

 

Finally, Jetpack’s live-action series is A Week to Beat the World, in which six super-sporty kids travel the globe to compete in some of the toughest and most unusual sports on the planet. Countries they visit include Guatemala, Kenya, Brazil, Mongolia, Japan and Malaysia, where they stay with local families and are given a week to master the new sport before competing with the experts.

 

Daisy & Ollie
Daisy & Ollie

“That’s the sort of show we love, because it really stands out,” Gardiner says. “Kids can’t travel, particularly during the pandemic, so they can watch this and almost imagine they’re there while learning something too.”

 

Speaking of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gardiner believes the fact that children have been spending more time at home over the past year will lead to a trend in producing kids’ series that focus on one storyline told over multiple episodes, much like in serialised adult series.

 

“With kids having more time at home and being able to manage their own time, they are maybe starting to discover content that has deeper storytelling, because they’ve got time to engage with it,” he says.

 

The Sisters
The Sisters

“There is an opportunity there for kids to get more into storytelling over a longer episodic format, much in the same way that drama has taken off in the primetime world.

 

“Our overarching aim is to curate the best quality content that we can find in the world. We want to build a diverse and varied slate of content so that any potential buyer in the world who looks at our catalogue can find what they need.”



More programming profiles

  • 22-09-2021

    Dominic Gardiner, CEO of Jetpack Distribution, reveals the UK-based kids’ distributor’s new slate of content and discusses the challenges and opportunities of utilising IP to capitalise on engaged audiences.

     

    For Dominic Gardiner, who has 20 years’ industry experience including stints as director of acquisitions at The Walt Disney Company and channel manager of Cartoon Network, established IP in the kids’ TV market has never been more popular.

     

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    Gardiner, now CEO of UK-based Jetpack Distribution, has seen how adapting IP has changed since the emergence of global streaming platforms. “Years ago, I met with a publisher who literally emptied a box of 40 bestselling books on to my desk. I thought, ‘What am I supposed to do with all that?’” he says.
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  • 29-03-2021

    Jetpack Distribution’s slate reflects industry trends ranging from smart comedy to fresh content mined from publishing brands. Here, the UK-based company’s CEO Dominic Gardiner talks through his C21 Digital Screenings playlist.

     

    In the seven years since it was founded, UK-based Jetpack Distribution has acquired a library of content designed to uplift and inspire kids and their families. The need to raise spirits, according to the boutique distributor’s CEO Dominic Gardiner, has never been more important after the world was upended by the coronavirus pandemic last year.

     

    It’s for this reason that Jetpack’s current slate leans heavily on comedy, although Gardiner says no genre is off limits for the company, with a diverse and broad set of shows that appeal to children and their parents being the main aim of the playlist.

     

    One trend Gardiner has noticed emerging is an appetite for “smart comedy” among children aged over six. “With younger ages, you can get away with the classic pie-in-the-face slapstick comedy. But older children expect intelligent comedy with smart and well-paced dialogue,” he explains.
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