The Academy Award-winning team behind The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan and producer Sophie Byrne (Highly Spirited), has joined forces with Barbara Stephen and Alexia Gates-Foale from award-winning animation studio Flying Bark Productions to develop an animated series based on Tan’s bestselling illustrated book Tales from Outer Suburbia.
The multi-award-winning book has been translated in 28 territories around the world.
The television adaptation tells the story of clever “almost 13-year-old” Klara and her younger brother Pim, who begin experiencing weird and miraculous phenomena as they go about their everyday life in Australian suburbia, whether that be spotting a water buffalo hiding in the long grass in a vacant lot, or discovering a secret garden deep within the walls of their home.
“Our intention is to create a playful series, at once fun and thought-provoking, that ignites children’s imaginations,” said Tan. “Ordinary life is anything but ordinary, but we often need good, smart storytelling to remind us of this. With Tales from Outer Suburbia, we hope to awaken that fantastic realisation that fiction and reality are never very far from one another, and that there is really no such thing as a normal life.”
Tan is the creative director of the development of the series, working alongside producers Sophie Byrne and Alexia Gates-Foale with writers Sam Carroll and Lally Katz. Barbara Stephen and Bernadette O’Mahony (Australian Children’s Television Foundation) are executive producers.
“Drawing upon the much-loved stories from the original book, we have developed a new work with its own voice and aesthetic which shows that the world around us is not always what it seems,” said Byrne. “In every episode, the audience should be able to see something of their own worldly problems in an otherworldly context.”
The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) has provided development investment which has enabled the creative team to develop the concept and scripts for the 12 x half-hour series and produce a teaser to offer a first glimpse of the unique look and feel of the project.
Tan and Byrne have worked together previously on the 15-minute short film adaptation of Tan’s picture book The Lost Thing, which won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Flying Bark Productions is one of Australia’s most experienced and preeminent animation companies. Its credits include Maya the Bee, Blinky Bill, Glitch Techs and 100% Wolf.
“Shaun Tan is a visionary and an Australian icon whose work has inspired our team. It’s an honour for us to be collaborating on the story and visual adaptation of this much-loved literary work,” said executive producer Stephen for Flying Bark. “We are drawing on both CG and 2D artistry to build a rich world full of vibrant characters, sophisticated cinematography and realism. The result is the rich textured look and feel of stop motion animation with Shaun’s unmistakeable visual motifs. The work is digitally handcrafted to reflect Shaun’s intricate and distinctive style of illustration.”
ACTF’s O’Mahony added, “This is a clever, beautiful and unique project with an incredible team behind it. Shaun’s work is recognisable and well-loved right across the world, and we are so excited to be able to bring his illustrations to life on screen. With a world-class creative team and animation studio behind it, this production will be like nothing seen before.”
Development of Tales from Outer Suburbia was funded with the assistance of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and Screen Australia.