We did it. Last week the final tapes for Planet Cosmo left the building, the completed series. Mission complete. Wow, what a journey.
It began early 2010 with just a wish and a doodle. That’s one of the very first images of Cosmo below, drawn with my finger on an iPod Touch using the old Brushes app. I didn’t know back then that it would be a cartoon show.
But I had more than just that doodle – I had an aim. A mission. I wanted to introduce the planets to children. Whole other worlds, real worlds, some of which can be seen by children just looking up at the sky at night. How amazing is that?
First, however, I had to entertain. I had to give children reasons to watch the show regardless of any prior interest in space. This would be a show for any and every child, boys and girls alike. And so slowly ideas became concepts, then characters, methods, structures and stories. Eventually, I knew I had it – a show that delivered what I felt children both wanted and needed (not always the same thing!).
Humour. Lots of humour.
Curiosity. I love to spark questions.
And finally, the core of the show’s direct educational goal – focused facts about our Solar System. Real amazing things that kids can share. If kids aren’t interested in that? No problem, the show has fun, humour, songs and adventure! It exists as entertainment and can sit on any preschool schedule, even without an educational remit. But soon, children may find themselves asking more questions, realising that beyond the fictional stories there are real planets out there (and we directly state what’s real in each episode). They may find that interest in space grows. And the more we feed that interest, the more likely it is that it will continue to grow. Wouldn’t that be something?
So here is the result of that long development. Planet Cosmo:
I knew production would be hard work. We were aiming high and our resources were limited. That just means you either find places to cut corners or everyone pushes that bit harder. Guess which one I went for? Yes, we pushed. We pushed hard.
Two things happened: Firstly, we had some problems early on. Secondly, the quality was pushed even higher (mainly due to some of our excellent animators exceeding our expectations – you guys rock!). So now we were dealing with even higher standards and were playing catch-up as we dealt with our early production difficulties. There were times our deadlines seemed impossible. Everyone on the show stepped up and put in their all. Some found their limit and the cracks began to appear. Others could have kept on going, showing a level of support I will always appreciate and never forget.
Amazing on such a tough production to have people who are an absolute joy to work with.
I am not going to name everyone because otherwise this would be a ridiculously long post but I want to mention some of those people with us in those hard, last days of production – Ciaran Lucas on backgrounds who did fantastic work and worked harder than just about anyone I have ever seen on any production, Léan Duffy who jumped into compositing like Han Solo returning to save Luke at the end of Star Wars, Roxy Lyon who worked long hours as she dealt with task after task ending up on her desk, Dale Robinson who stepped in just when we needed him even though he had so much else going on and Graham Scott for brightening up the studio and keeping us all going.
And a very special mention for Simon Crane. Simon and I have worked together for years. He’s a good friend and an exceptionally talented animator and director in his own right (Simon is directing Geronimo Productions’ Punky) and he was my directing animator on Planet Cosmo. Simon’s level of enthusiasm and support kept me going, gave me energy when I needed it. This show probably just wouldn’t have happened without him. Thank you, Simon.
Everyone did great work. You should check out the credits when Planet Cosmo launches because one of the things I am most proud of is that we were able to make this show with so few people. You’ll find a tiny crew list at the end of our show. No hidden credits, no outside studio. That was it. Just us right here in Dublin. And you’ll even find quite a few names repeated in different jobs – multitasking was an essential on this show! And even with such a small crew, the show is exactly what we wanted. I could never, ever use our lack of resources as an excuse for anything on this show. Planet Cosmo is actually a better show than the one I set out to make.
How often does one get to say that?
There are two other people I will mention here though. One is my script editor, Hilary Baverstock. These episodes only worked because the scripts were right to begin with. Without good scripts, we would have been working hard to make a show that looks pretty and does little else. So, as script editor, Hilary’s influence was felt throughout the entire production. And the other person is the producer of Geronimo Productions, Gerard O’Rourke. Gerard showed faith in this project from the second I showed it to him and he pulled the financing together to make it happen. The importance of that part is obvious but the immense work that goes into it is often never seen by those either making or watching the show. And Gerard now takes on phase three of what it is to make a show – going out there to sell it. Find him at Kidscreen in New York and ask him to show you some full episodes!
So there you have it. We have completed Planet Cosmo. Fifteen episodes of animated fun and adventure, bringing the planets to children. The show launches on RTE2 in Ireland on the 18th of February and international broadcasts will follow. Find the show on Twitter at @PlanetCosmoTV for clips and images. I hope you all love the show.
Finally done. We made it.
And now I need a nap.