Miramar children's television company Pukeko Pictures has struck a deal with Chinese production house Grand Entertainment to work on a new show for kids that will be screened to an audience of 600 million.
Pukeko Pictures was founded by Sir Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Martin Baynton in 2008 and it has strong ties to Weta Workshop.
The show, Apple Dog's Adventure, is aimed at the preschool market and will use live-action puppets to tell the story of a dog with a magical apple growing from the end of its tail teaching simple life lessons.
The main character is based on a loved series of Chinese books and the screenplay was written by award-winning writer Ge Bing.
Pukeko Pictures has signed a memorandum of understanding with Grand Entertainment to provide technical and creative assistance in making 200 episodes of Apple Dog's Adventure, which will run for 10 minutes each.
Last year Grand Entertainment began screening Pukeko Pictures' The WotWots in China.
Pukeko Pictures chief executive Andrew Smith said it was acting in a consultation role and would make several trips to China over the next year or so.
"It is not going to employ a lot of people here. It will be fairly small from that aspect but for our purpose it is about understanding the Chinese market, how things are done at a production level, then being able to collaborate with the Chinese on something we actually believe could be a very exciting show," Smith said.
It would review the scripts from China and consider how well they would appeal to an international audience, and give technical advice about how to put together the show for broadcast.
"We'll be giving them knowledge around special effects, puppet techniques, how to manufacture puppets, what colours to use, giving them feedback on how we think their designs will work."
The most valuable skills that Pukeko Pictures had for its Chinese partners were its technical know-how and the ability to offer a Western perspective.
"The Chinese are obviously very keen to have their shows travel outside China and have people around the world seeing them. . . . that's somewhat difficult for them . . . when they are sort of emerging in the media space."
The Animation School of the Beijing Film Academy is also involved in the show. Its dean, Professor Sun Lijun, said it believed Apple Dog's Adventure could become an original classic through the collaboration.
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