Farmageddon is aimed at Cannes

An animation company has received a £10,000 cash boost to promote its children's TV cartoon at a high profile festival in Cannes.

An animation company has received a £10,000 cash boost to promote its children's TV cartoon at a high profile festival in Cannes.

Hartlepool born Niel Bushnell, 36, an illustrator and animator, developed the comic strip Farmageddon with old school friend Gordon Fraser, also an illustrator, in 1992.

Now Niel's company Qurios has taken on the idea and hopes to develop it into a £2m cartoon series. Niel said: "Gordon and I wanted it to feel like Tom and Jerry with some Vic Reeves type British humour thrown in."

Niel launched his career as an animator in London working on films such as Space Jam and Lost in Space, before returning to Hartlepool with his wife Diane and launching their own animation and design company known as Qurios Entertainment.

The business has been trading since May 2002 and now employs a team of eight specialist animators and this year has doubled in size to a £300,000 turnover.

Qurios has been involved in many television projects including ITV's The Outsiders and BBC sci-fi comedy Hyperdrive.

"We have always been a service company and have become very good at producing work to other people's specification, it is the main part of our business," said Niel.

"But with this animated comic strip we are making a departure. In the longer term if we are successful this project will bring people to us looking for ideas, not just the delivery of their projects.

"However, if you are producing something yourself you always run the risk that you can invest a lot of money and discover nobody likes it."

Farmageddon is based on a farm where dinosaurs live side-by-side with more normal animals, with characters including Billy and Brian the Badger Brothers, Cool Bob and Moonstar.

Niel wanted to make a short animated film featuring these characters and approached Northern Film and Media (NFM), the regional screen agency for the North-East.

"NFM support companies in the media sector in this region, we put in an application for funding for a short trailer and were successful in receiving a grant with matched funding, so as a business we will be investing £10,000 in this project as well," he said.

Once the trailer is complete Niel is hoping to attract the resources needed to produce either 13 or 26 episodes at 11 minutes each, that could cost anything up to £2m.

He said: "With the size of the figures involved it is very rare that funding comes from one source. Even if we got the support of a company like the BBC it is likely they would only put up some of the money and expect us to find other backers."

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