Screen Australia announces production of new animated series and teen documentary

Screen Australia has commissioned new teen documentary Teenage Boss and animated film Spongo, Fuzz & Jalapena.

The announcements:

Screen Australia, in association with Create NSW, have announced production funding for Teenage Boss, an observational documentary series from McAvoy Media that teaches Australian teenagers about the value of money and the importance of financial literacy.

The 15 x 26-minute series commissioned by ABC ME is based on Norwegian public broadcaster NRK’s successful international format. Each week a teenager assumes responsibility for their family’s budget for a month, provoking debate between the teens and their families around financial priorities.

Australian teenagers on average spend close to $400 on themselves every month. Teenagers are super-consumers, and in many Australian families, money issues are at the core of conflicts between teenagers and parents.

Findings from the PISA report (Programme for International Student Assessment) released in May 2017, show that since 2012, the level of financial literacy of Australian teenagers has been consistently falling. Coupled with the current high cost of living, rising house prices in Australia’s major cities and low wage growth, today’s teenagers face enormous challenges.

Teenage Boss will address these issues by speaking directly to Australian teenagers and their families about financial management, and teach teens how to spend money in a considered and sensible way.

John McAvoy (Kings Cross ER) and Simon Steel (Outback Coroner) are executive producers for McAvoy Media, with Matt Tomaszewski (Great White Matrix) as producer/director.

Australia-wide casting of teenagers and families is underway and will be diverse across socio-economic, single/dual income/parent families and cultural backgrounds. Star maths teacher and numbers whiz Eddie Woo will be their mentor. Filming will commence in November and the series will air on ABC ME in 2018.

Executive Producer John McAvoy said: “In the current climate a series like Teenage Boss has never been more important or relevant.  And it will be anything but predictable as 15 teenagers take over their family’s finances for a month. Anything can happen, with plenty of lessons and laughs along the way.”

Liz Stevens, Senior Manager for Documentary at Screen Australia said: “We are thrilled to support an Australian children’s documentary series that takes an entertaining approach to the issues surrounding financial literacy as it provides teens with a real understanding of money matters.”

Production Credit: A McAvoy Media production for the ABC. Principal production investment from Screen Australia, in association with Create NSW.

ABC KIDS and the Disney Channel Australia on Foxtel have jointly commissioned new animated series Spongo, Fuzz & Jalapeña from Cheeky Little Media, creators of internationally successful series Kazoops and Bottersnikes & Gumbles. The show has secured production funding support from Screen Australia in association with Create NSW’s Regional Film Fund.

The series is the brainchild of David Webster and was developed in-house at Cheeky Little Media with co-founder Patrick Egerton. Patrick Egerton and Isla Curtis will produce, Egerton and David Webster will executive produce, and Webster will also direct.

Aimed at 8-12 year olds, the 26 x 11 minute series follows the adventures of three best buds – Spongo, Fuzz and Jalapeña – and their life in Champignon, a town full of weird crazy contests. Theirs is a friendship that breaks all the rules as they attempt to achieve a world record at something… anything!

Cheeky Little Media’s David Webster said the show was, “Something we have been developing for a long time, and we’re extremely excited it’s now in production. We think the idea of a town dedicated to hosting an array of bizarre world championships is pretty funny and one that will appeal to kids. Our three heroes are all determined to win a trophy, any trophy, but really they’re just having a whole lot of fun along the way!”

Kazoops (2016) and Bottersnikes & Gumbles (2016) have screened on ABC KIDS, ABC ME and Channel Seven in Australia, as well as on CBBC in the UK and Netflix worldwide. Bottersnikes & Gumbles was nominated for Best Children’s Television Series at the 2016 AACTA Awards and was turned into a book series with UK publishing company Hodder Children’s Books; whilst Kazoops won Silver in the ‘TV Series: Children’ category at the 2017 Animation Effects Awards Festival and has released a line of toys with master toy partner TOMY.

“Animated children’s content represents a significant commercial opportunity for Australian production companies, as is evidenced by the numerous international partnerships forged by Cheeky Little Media,” says Sally Caplan, Head of Production at Screen Australia. “This creative team have proven their talent for crafting delightfully unique story-worlds and we wish the team every success with this series.”

Spongo, Fuzz & Jalapeña will premiere on ABC KIDS in 2019, followed by a secondary broadcast on Disney Channel Australia on Foxtel.

Source: Screen Australia


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