Yes, brown princesses do exist! Netherlands’ Princess Arabella produced by Phanta Animation BV won the international animation pitch conference at MIPJunior pitch during the ongoing event at Cannes. The story beautifully highlights that royalty exists in diversity. The work which is still in its early stage of development is being made as a 26×7” animated preschool series.
Princess Arabella is an adaptation of the picture book (same name) by Mylo Freeman. PHANTA ANIMATION BV producer Jolande Junte and series director Patrick Chin presented the pitch jointly. It was one of the top five projects selected out of 115 submissions from 41 countries for the MIPJunior Project Pitch. The other four projects included three works of animation namely Florida (Paper Owl Films, UK), Forkfish (Anthem Studios, UK), Loodle Ville (SMF Studios, Russian Federation) and a live-action drama series for young adults, SSOPA (Northern Fable, Sweden).
“I would like to tell you how it all started and what motivated us. When I met writer and illustrator Mylo Freeman, she told me that one day she joined a children’s party. At the party the children decided to play princes and princesses. But one girl stepped aside and said well, then I cannot join because brown princesses don’t exist. When Mylo looked at this beautiful girl it broke her heart and she thought then and there to do something. And thus Princess Arabella was born,” Junte said while introducing their work before the jury during the hybrid session of MIPCOM 2021.
“I was not only moved and inspired by her experience but it also opened my mind to the idea that some children need to see themselves reflected more,” she said.
Hence Junte decided to develop Freeman’s book into an animated series.
“The series is about showing that it’s not always easy for children to know how they fit in or what is expected of them. But six year old Arabella approaches everything with a lot of energy and a lot of imagination to come up with fun and unexpected illusions to life’s challenges, causing everyone to relax and enjoy themselves,” said Chin.
He revealed that the little girl is assisted by her naughty grandmother who is scared about Arabella’s grand schemes. They live in a cozy street with lots of castles and palaces. The story talks about Arabella’s diverse group of royal friends. Also it deals with recognisable problems that children usually face. Since she is a princess, her problems are like how to fix her hair during a royal dinner and so on.
Arabella’s friends and others living on that cosy street come from all over the world including Europe, Asia and Africa. In that small arena everybody is related to royalty.
Chin explained that since the child felt that she didn’t fit in, so in the series they decided to make everything royal.
They will produce 26 episodes beginning in 2022 using 3D animation and have an estimated budget of €4 million. At the MIPCOM pitch they were looking for partners, for the show to be financed.
The jury members included OTTera co-founder Stephen L. Hodge, YLE Finnish Broadcasting Company international co-production & acquisitions EIC Vicky Schroderus and NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) acquisitions executive Irene Pothecary-Huse.