Xilam has a well-deserved reputation for animation, counting Oggy and the Cockroaches and Zig & Sharko among its cartoon series. Its latest offering for the market is, however, a foray into live-action and the kids wildlife genre made in partnership with Emmy Award-winning French doc director Frédéric Fougea.
“We discussed it and noticed that most wildlife is for primetime and family, but there is nothing specifically for kids; there is nothing in the short-form wildlife space,” says Marc du Pontavice, boss of France-based Xilam.
Each episode of If I Were An Animal follows a different species from its infancy to adulthood. Rather than a purely factual take on the lives of the growing animals, the show adds a narrative layer with a voiceover delivered by a boy and a girl.
“We describe it as docu-fiction because we take deal with it as a story, not a straight documentary,” says du Pontavice. “The idea is we see each animal as a kid among its family and as it grows. With the signet episode we see the young bird first spread its wing and as it learns to fly.”
The footage is a mixture of that shot in recent years combined with specially-filmed parts. The final product will have some small animated elements inserted between sequences.
Billed as a €6 million (US$6.6 milion) 39x7mins series for 5-9s, Xilam has self-funded three finished episodes. As well as the signet, there are installments on a fawn and a lynx. Multiple episodes could be run back-to-back to fill a commercial half-hour.
Xilam will be pitching If I Were an Animal at MIPJunior. It is making a bet that will fill an unmet need. “Wildlife shows are almost never programmed in kids TV; they are in primetime or on specialist channels, “ says du Pontavice.
The show: If I Were an Animal
The producer: Xilam
The distributor: Xilam
The concept: Live-action wildlife show for kids