Today, Patrick Ermosilla, Pat the Dog’s creator and artistic producer at Superprod, and Daniel Klein, director of the second season, tell us more about Pat the Dog Season 2.
Patrick explains us how Pat the Dog was born, gives us the reasons for its worldwide success, and reveals the new developments of the second season. Daniel tells us more about the backstage of the production, and what it was like to come onboard as the new director.
Patrick, you had the idea to adapt Pat the Dog in an animation series, can you tell us how it all began ?
Patrick : Of course ! At the very beginning, Pat the Dog was a mobile game (called Space Dog) which met an amazing success with 45 million players around the globe. Within Superprod, we all knew the game and the misadventures of the brave pet.
And the simple and efficient gameplay inspired me. So, I had to find a story that was as much efficient… A flying dog… I did not want to create a cruel story where the dog would be brutalized. Then I thought: What would be the reasons for a dog to fly above the clouds, as Superman does? From “Superman”, I came to superheroes, then heroes… then dog heroes: Rin Tin Tin, Lassie… and I come to the solution: “Let’s make our small and chubby dog become a real hero! “
So we created this series in CGI, for kids aged 5 to 8, and we are so happy that so many families around the world enjoy Pat’s adventures!
What channels and territories is the series on ?
Patrick : A bit everywhere. According to an official study released by CNC(*), the series ranked among the top French hits abroad with the past 25 years. That’s a brilliant job done by Superights, the distributor of the series, who sold it to 180 territories.
I personally don’t know all broadcasters to mention them but the series was aired on Cartoon Network in Europe and Asia, on Disney Channel in the US, in France, in Benelux, in Spain, in Germany, in Russia… but also in Discovery Kids in Latam, on Rai in Italy or on Radio Canada.
By the end of the year, Pat was also part of the launch of the new platform Okoo on France Télévisions, and was aired during the holiday on France 4. That was a nice Xmas present for the team ! ?
Can you tell us more about season 2 ?
Patrick : It will take Pat on more of the cray adventures that made its success : our beloved pet without pedigree always ready to do anything to save Lola’s day (his 8 year-old best friend ), Hoodie the clumsy kitten, Mum & Dad, and finally Victor the neighbor and his dog Tank, who always make things more complicated for Pat !
Of course, there will be some new gags, new inventions and still cynical plans by the Guanos for a lot of action… and also new characters, such as Honorine, the dynamic grandma, the thieves Marcel and Squizel, Pompom the clumsy hamster and two Dobermans, who attach much importance in order and respect of the law.
Season 2 will be mainly composed of 7′ episodes, but also 4 specials and 1’30 webisodes. Why that ?
Patrick : The success of the season 1 enabled us to offer new storylines for 7’ episodes, but also to explore longer and shorter formats.
It has been great to work on the 22’ specials: we had the opportunity to explore new and more complex situations, and give the opportunity to Paf and Lola to share Xmas and Halloween celebrations, as well summer holidays with the fans.
A longer format enables some richer narrative stakes: we’ll learn more about Pat’s and Lola’s encounter, the whole family will get lost in the forest, and it’s even possible that we see Pat meeting Father Xmas in person… Stop !! I don’t want to spoil !!
That’s not all. The 10 webisodes will be starring our international kitten Hoodie! The fans and broadcasters asked for some dedicated content on Hoodie before we even suggested! Even if some broadcasters plan to air them on TV, these shorts were created to be aired online…. Cats are the kings of the net, aren’t they? Our cutie Hoodie deserved it ?.
Do you work with the same teams as for Pat season 1 ?
Patrick : We make our best at Superprod to work with the same teams because we create some strong links during the production (2 years, that’s something !!), and consequently we then work more efficiently as the team knows the project and colleagues so well.
We have some teams at a top level ?, with young and less young artists and technicians, who take advantage of their experience on season one to escape the numerous traps on season two and deliver some even better quality.
We are proud that these talents work with us. And so grateful. When you create a series, it’s such a joy to see artists make the project their own.
I cannot name everybody, but we are a team of 100 people to make out of Pat a stunning series ?. But each team contributes : François and his team of 2D and CGI artists and animators, Christophe and the technicians and of course Virginie, Juliette, Antoine, Maxime and all the production staff, who synchronize on a daily (or even hourly !) basis this large team ! Last but not least Csaba the Headwriter, Jean Louis Champault and the storyboard team, Ange the director assistant and Daniel, the director are writing the “score” for this marvelous “concert”.
Daniel, you are the director. Can you tell us what convinced you to become the director Season 2 ?
Daniel : I liked very much the rhythm targeted for the second season, and the complexity due to the quite unusual mix of sitcom and cartoon.
If we want to schematize, there is on one side the sitcom part where we concentrate on the humans (Lola, her parents, Victor, etc.), and on the other side, the cartoon part with the animals (Pat / the Guanos) in full action. How to maintain the link between the two universes? How to keep up the rhythm between breathtaking action scenes and emotion sequences with Lola? And how to integrate some new characters who are complementary and who can create new adventures ?
It has been a big challenge on this season; and we had to work thoughtfully on the transitions and on the rhythm cuts to enable the back and forth between the fast paced action scenes and quieter moments. That is the challenge that I felt excited about.
And it’s not all. We are cartoon creators. This means that we can make visible the whole imagination of the children: make their toys alive, take them into the space, and in the case of Pat The Dog, change their dog into a super-hero !
I found exciting to be able to enter this secret world of animals,and push the limits of the characters. And I can now confirm, we are having so much fun. Look at the Guanos : they may be a bit mistreated in a way, but they enjoy themselves all the time, they come up with great ideas, and they are free like birds. Isn’t it fabulous ? The cartoon genre enables to push the limits with the funny way !
Finally, I would like to add that the cartoon genre is a sensitive subject. I attach much importance in the sensibility and nuances that we can transmit. I find magical to start with a drawing, and that the amazing work chain come out with children having fun, feeling some empathy, or even fear for some of the characters such as Pat of Lola as if they existed for real.
How did you arrive on a series for which you have not directed the first season ?
Daniel : Indeed, Charles Vaucelle directed the first season, and set-up many graphic and narrative elements on which we could rely on. So of course, I first needed some time to immerge myself fully in the universe of the existing series. But once I have absorbed enough elements, it was time to step back and think about the way to bring my own sensibility, my own direction, and imagine with the teams already there on the first season how to make the work on animation and storyboarding evolve further.
Patrick was talking about the teams on Pat. On your side, are there some production aspects that you have particularly enjoyed so far ?
Daniel : Yes. Firstly the possibility to work in an international context. I always find it beneficial for a production as it brings some different point of views. I am personally German, and in the case of Pat, we work in coproduction with Animoka, an Italian studio. This enables us to share the know-how and sensibility of the teams. And although we are neighbors, there are always some funny anecdotes about different visions of the world, or even of the family ?. But we exchange. We even debate. That’s fascinating! and that serves the series which will then travel around the globe!
Another quite unusual point is the untypical format that Patrick was talking about. Working the rhythm on a 1’30’’, 7’ or 22’ is so different. And I love directing the 1’30. That’s so much condense. We started with an idea that held in two sentences, such as “The cat wants to sleep in the sun, but he gets disturbed”. We talked about it, we drew and we adjusted accordingly. That was spontaneous, with no script at all, and totally “storyboard-driven”.
Then, I also like to work with the teams. I am a Director and I need a good collaboration with all heads of departments to develop an idea and keep it alive throughout the writing, the storyboarding, the layout, etc. This was very fluid on this production and working fully in Europe has been a major advantage for the series. Regarding animation, our exchanges are smooth, the teams are reliable, and we gain in quality. That’s a real plus for the series, but also for the teams !
How far are you in the production ? And when can we see the first episodes ?
Patrick : The big challenge for the production and the teams is always to guarantee our production deadlines. We therefore need to work on several episodes at the same time, and it’s a real artistic, technical and organizational challenge. We are now finalizing the last animatics and storyboards but the first episodes are already completed!
We are in the middle of the production, at the time when all steps are overlapping and move forward in a precise order, and in a nearly perfect synchronization (laughs).
Anyway, we will deliver our broadcasting partners very soon, because next Spring, the public will discover the brand-new episodes on air. We will make it happen ?.
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