Earthlings Finalists at Nasscom Super Pitch

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(Original Article on AnimationXpress.com)

 

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Creating an IP is a dream for most content creators but to realize it into reality is the difficult part. In an effort to provide a platform for aspiring original content creators to showcase their work, NASSCOM initiated the Super Pitch for the second consecutive year.

 

The jury members were Muslim Kapasi (MD, Excel Home Videos), Smita Maroo (VP, Shemaroo), Franck Malmin, Nelson Recinos, Ashish Kulkarni (CEO, Anirights) and Jyotirmoy Saha (UTV).

 

"The motive of the Super Pitch is to identify talent and select the best IP," began Biren Ghose (CEO and President, Kahani World Inc, Canada). Continuing with the procedures of the Super Pitch, Biren went onto listing out the criteria for judging, which are as follows:

 

Originality and freshness

Story

CharactersOverall project designLicensing/ leveraging to different platformsApt relevance to the target groupBusiness logicLocal appeal

Quality of pitch

 

"The prize of the Super Pitch is the process itself, commented Biren who was compeering the session. As part of the procedure of the Super Pitch, the judges were provided with sheets on which the parameters for judging were mentioned and the judges had to mark each pitch on the basis of those parameters with maximum being ten points.

 

The contestants were given a minute and a half to introduce themselves and then a five minute time span to present their pitch. Followed by a Q&A round.

 

Coming onto the stage first was Shekhar Iyer to present his pitch called A Comic Book Adventure. Introducing himself, Shekhar said, "I have learnt film making from the Toronto Film School and am currently working with Percept Picture Company."

 

A Comic Book Hero is based on the book, A Hero‘s Journey by Joseph Campbell. "My pitch is about a nerdy orphan boy who is obsessed with comic book heroes and in this world of his; the comic book heroes have lost their magical powers. The style I‘ve used is Machinima and the advantage of this style is that it requires less production time, bringing down the costs as well. It is also flexible as sudden changes can be made and is an apt medium for TV," explained Shekhar. Bringing his characters into the picture, Shekhar said that they have personal connectivity and a relevance to reality to some extent. He would like his series to be on the lines of Tarzan and Mowgli and is looking to target all available platforms. He has divided the stories into three acts according to which, the first act would talk about how the protagonist is living in a normal world and enters into the world of superheroes in which the superheroes have lost their powers and the princess of that kingdom has been abducted. Act two would deal with how the boy becomes a superhero while the third would relate how the princess is rescued.

 

The target audience that Shekhar is looking at is the age groups of 6-10 years. Once Shekhar concluded his presentation, the judges posed their questions at him pertaining to naming of the characters, platforms and the country where he was planning to release his series.

 

Presenting a pitch which was embedded with humor was Nishit of Turtles with their pitch called Angelina Joe Lee. The name of the pitch was enough to get the audience interested in the presentation. Nishit and his group are graduates from Picasso. Talking about Angelina Joe Lee, Nishit said, "Angelina Joe Lee is about three frogs who have their own unique characteristics. Angelina is a fashion conscious frog, while Joe is clumsy, talented, is fond of Angelina and loves trying new things. Lee on the other hand is worlds apart from Joe. Lee is polished and is hopelessly in love with Angelina and is always scheming against Joe." It will be a series about toads, their frivolousness, and surroundings.

 

Nishit talked about the USP of the series saying that friends competing with each other is a very real concept and the frogs are rarely portrayed as cuddly. The story is beautiful as well as fun. The environment is a lush junk yard which is home to the frogs and they use the props in the yard in their day to day life. As part of their marketing strategy, the film makers have made sure that the characters and the environment look believable. The series has a lot of gags and a whole lot of fun. They are further looking at refining the seven minute episodes as well as adding cameos.

 

Apart from the TV series, Angelina Joe Lee will also be made into a comic strip, online game in addition to other forms of merchandising. The judges seemed quite impressed with the presentation and Nishit was asked just two questions in relation to the target audience and the demographic appeal.

 

After the young and vibrant presentation by Nishit, Greg Acuna took centrestage at the podium. "I‘m originally from LA and have now shifted base to India. I have set up my studio, Pala flicks in Goa to create socially conscious content. I am here to present my IP called Earthlings which is a theme based interactive animated show and is about four aliens who come to earth," Said Greg, introducing himself. Earthlings to a large extent draws its inspiration from Sesame Street which revolutionized the animated content market in the 1960s. The format of the live action cum 3D animated show is such that each three and a half minute long episode will have an activity. Greg is also looking to have a social networking site for the show as well as porting it to the mobile front.

 

The first question asked to Greg by Muslim Kapasi was how the show is different from Sesame Street and Monsters Inc? To this Greg replied that the format is different.

 

The next question was asked by Jyotirmoy as to why the show is called Earthlings when the main characters are aliens? Responding to this Greg said, "The show us called Earthlings because when the aliens come down from their planet, they see all humans as one and do not discriminate according to the skin colour or any such thing. It‘s a way of bringing the world together. One thing that will attract the kids, is that the show is 60 per cent interactive."

 

"There is also an animated girl in the show, who is she? Is she alien or a human being?" asked Ashish Kulkarni. Greg concluded his pitch by answering, "Dunia is a magical girl who can change colours. She is the instigator of the plots. The idea is to show that aliens don‘t always have to be different than human beings but could also look the same."

 

Last year only animated content were included in the Super Pitch, but this year gaming was also part of it. The first game to be pitched this year was Galli Cricket by Sridhar of Antimafx. "The game that I am pitching will hold relevance to Indians and South Asians. It is on the lines of street cricket with small grounds. We are looking at two platforms for the game, one will be a massively online one, while the other would be single player," said Sridhar. According to him, the USP of the game is the sticky factor, simple controls, the virtual story and an animated video which will be made soon. "For example if somebody is very good with controls he/she can advance in the game and probably bowl and get the gap between the wickets."

 

What drives the audience is the gameplay and the AI. Environments such as the T junction, small ground, making one‘s own rules, makes the game fun and addictive. Antimafx is looking to push the game to multiple platforms and also building a web community. The target group for the same is 8-14 years and will be launched first for PC and then consoles.

 

From gaming the pitch moved back into animation with Yogi Chopra‘s pitch ‘Nano’, the concept of which was refreshingly fresh. "I‘m not an animator but a writer and very new in the field of animation," shared Yogi. Nano is about an alien who lives in an environment where there is no one and has to rely on technology. In the series, conflict is the antagonist. Yogi is looking at making Nano into an episodic series with each episode being 3-5 minutes long and which could be aired 4-6 times a day. "Nano has no linguistic barriers as there is no dialogue, finished Yogi. It must be mentioned here that Yogi came second in the Super Pitch.

 

Everyone enjoys a good laugh and this is just what Prosenjit Ganguly of Toonz Animation did with his pitch, Shree Gajanan Society. Shree Gajanan Society is about a typical housing society with people from different communities living there. Families in the society include The Gaekwads, The Ghosh‘s, The Bucketwalla‘s, The Bhatti‘s and The Iyer‘s. Each family has typical characteristics representing the particular community that the family members belong to. The twist in the story comes when a posh society is built in front of the Gajanan Society which is on the verge becoming a dilapidated structure. The posh new apartments called the Tower Condoes is owned by the Shastris (whose appearance itself is enough to give away to show how wealthy they are).

 

Prosenjit thinks that this concept would work very well with the Indian audience as there is humor and a level of relevance.

 

The audience and judges were upbeat and enthusiastic right till the last pitch which was Tuk Tuk Mania by Ashish Nangia of DQ Entertainment. Tuk Tuk Mania is a game which derives its name from the sound that an auto rickshaw makes. "The idea came to me when I was working on the assets for another game. It‘s an action adventure game," explained Ashish. As per the gameplay, the player dons the role of the driver who has to drop passengers to their respective destinations, maneuvering his way through the busy traffic and the narrow streets. According to Ashish, the USP of the game is the madness and mayhem of the Indian streets. The challenge of the game lies in driving fast, causing least damage to the rickshaw.

 

The game is aimed to be made into a single player and a multi player game with twelve levels. With each level, the challenge would escalate which would include complexity of maps. In one line I would describe my game with, "Take the wheel and feel the thrill." Countering questions addressing topics such as appeal, Ashish said that the game would have a local flavor and hence would have a far reaching appeal.

 

With so many ideas being pitched and various points of improvement being brought to the notice of all those who pitched, there were sure to be some suggestions that the judges liked to share with them. To summarise, the jury collectively thought that the concept and target audience needs to be clearly identified. The core areas to concentrate on are the storyline, characterization and the target group. If these three things are transparent, then the decision is easier to make. Overall it‘s been a great attempt by all.

 

The grand finale of the pitch was the announcement of the winners with Shree Gajanan Society by Prosenjit Ganguly coming first, followed by Nano by Yogi Chopra and Angelina Joe Lee by the Turtles.

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