After dipping its toes into the kids pool with PBS KIDS series Ready Jet Go!, Wind Dancer Films is now treading much deeper into family content.
The California-based prodco behind Roseanne and Home Improvement has announced an ambitious new slate that comes in all varieties—from preschool animation to YA book adaptations—though Wind Dancer principal Dete Meserve says there is one commonality in place.
“Kids content comes without the pressures that adult programming puts on you to be edgy,” says Meserve, who was tapped to lead the company’s push into children’s content last March. “Here, we can really employ character humor and we know at the same time we get the opportunity to teach. We’re not just a company doing preschool and animation, but are also looking at live action, which is certainly our history and legacy. We’re even looking forward to doing things in stop-motion animation.”
The company’s new slate includes The World Wide Webbers, an animated TV pilot aimed at kids ages four to eight that focuses on literacy and geography created by kids entertainment vet Kim Berglund.
Wind Dancer is also working with writer/showrunner Carin Greenberg (Tumble Leaf, Octonauts) to adapt author Antoinette Portis’ Not A Box (pictured) into a TV show.
The company has also partnered with Canada’s Muse Entertainment to create a live-action TV movie and series for tweens called Hello, I Love You. Also with Muse, Wind Dancer is turning Meserve’s book, Good Sam, into a film for The Hallmark Channel.
Further upcoming projects include an untitled animated musical series for over-fives from Ready Jet Go! creator Craig Bartlett, an animated family feature film from writer Robert Zappia (Tom & Jerry), a live-action comedy series from YA author Elise Allen (Gabby Duran) and Corey Powell (Doc McStuffins, My Little Pony), and a live-action show about cars with Tod Mesirow and Robot Body (Mythbusters, Top Gear) at the helm.
There are also two STEM-focused shows in the works, including a CG-animated series for preschoolers with executive producer Brenda Wooding (SheZow, Space Racers), as well as an animated preschool science show created by Rachel Lipman (Splash & Bubbles, Ready Jet Go) and Joe Purdy (Dinosaur Train, Ready Jet Go) entitled The Wilde Family.
In fact, the focus on STEM is born out of the success of Ready Jet Go!, which is heading into its second season.
“We realized that science is not just a subject but many, many topics rolled into one that affect our lives every day,” says Meserve. “We have been able to make one show a success and we would like to be able to do it again and again.”
In terms of Ready Jet Go!‘s initial take-off, the series has already inspired an app that has been downloaded more than half a million times, and Meserve says Wind Dancer’s upcoming shows will likely feature mobile extensions, too.
“We’re primarily focusing on kids content right now,” says Meserve. “We’re certainly looking at doing some work in adult-focused feature films and television, but it’s really more about kids.”
Wind Dancer Films, a Hollywood-based company behind many top TV sitcoms and box-office winners, is growing its kids’ entertainment footprint following the success of its first foray into the area, Ready Jet Go!, which launched last year on PBS KIDS. The company has unveiled a full slate of new animated and live-action TV and film projects for kids and families, teaming with top children’s media creatives to deliver fresh content.
“We’re thrilled that our first-ever children’s series, Ready Jet Go!, has been an out-of-this-world success,” said Dete Meserve, Executive Producer of the series and Principal of Wind Dancer Films. “Our priority continues to be creating quality entertainment offerings for kids and families and we’re very excited to be working on these smart and engaging new productions with the best-of-the best in the space.”
New projects in the works at Wind Dancer include:
Ready Jet Go! Season 2 (CGI Animation; Ages 3-8)
Season 2 of the popular series created by Craig Bartlett (Dinosaur Train, Hey Arnold) will debut in 2018, with 24 new episodes, an hour-long special and a range of new web games and mobile apps. Ready Jet Go! takes viewers on far-flung, fun and learning-rich adventures through astronomy, technology, scientific exploration, innovation, and invention. Since its premiere, the show has reached 34.3 million viewers, including 10.2 million kids on linear TV. Ready Jet Go! content has been streamed more than 146 million times since January 2016. In addition to airing on PBS stations, full-length segments from the series are available for streaming on pbskids.org and on the free PBS KIDS Video app. The series is also on Amazon Prime Video.
The World Wide Webbers (Animated Pilot; Ages 4-8)
An exciting new concept designed to spark children’s interest in both literacy and geography. Created by Kim Berglund, a 15-year veteran in the kids’ entertainment arena, the program follows the Webber kids and their family on a series of adventures around the world.
Not A Box
Winner of two Daytime Emmys, two Annie Awards and a Writers Guild Award, writer/showrunner Carin Greenberg (Tumble Leaf, Lalaloopsy, Octonauts) has joined the Wind Dancer team to pen the script for a pilot that adapts Antoinette Portis’ award-winning book property, Not A Box, for the small screen.
Hello, I Love You (Live Action; Tweens)
Wind Dancer has partnered with one of Canada’s largest film and television production companies, Muse Entertainment (Life of Pi, Being Human), on this new TV movie and series.
Based on the best-selling and award-winning novel by Wind Dancer Principal Dete Meserve, the company is producing the upcoming film for The Hallmark Channel in partnership with Muse Entertainment.
Additional (as-yet untitled) animated projects in the works include a music-centered series for kids 5+ with Craig Bartlett; feature film for family audiences with writer Robert Zappia (Christmas Is Here Again, Tom & Jerry); “maker”-influenced CG series for preschoolers with Kid Glove executive producer Brenda Wooding (SheZow, Space Racers); and The Wilde Family, a preschool science series created by Ready Jet Go! alums Rachel Lipman (Splash & Bubbles) and Joe Purdy (Dinosaur Train).
Wind Dancer is also planning two additional live-action series, a comedy about a secret club for solving tween problems with author/writer Elise Allen (Gabby Duran) and Corey Powell (Doc McStuffins, My Little Pony); and an informational series about the stories behind cars, with Tod Mesirow of Robot Body (Mythbusters, Top Gear).
Animation Magazine, Mercedes Milligan
Wind Dancer Films’ hit animated space-themed series Ready Jet Go! is setting coordinates for more international markets thanks to a number of new broadcaster deals inked but distributor CAKE. These sales follow a recent commission by PBS KIDS for a second 24-episode season of the show, plus an hour-long special and a collection of web games and mobile apps, rolling out in the U.S. in late 2017.
New broadcasters ready to take off with Ready Jet Go! include ABC (Australia), BBC Kids (Canada), Knowledge Network (Canada), YLE (Finland), NRK (Norway), SIC Television (Portugal), POD Worldwide (Thailand) and E-Vision (UAE).
“Ready Jet Go! has quickly taken off with U.S. audiences, and we’re thrilled about the warm reception that CAKE has received for the series from the international broadcast community,” said Dete Meserve, Executive Producer of the series and Principal of Wind Dancer Films. “Our mission with Ready Jet Go! is to encourage young viewers to engage in science in ways that spark their natural curiosity, broaden their horizons and deepen their connection to the universe. These new deals will extend all the rich learning opportunities of the series, along with its music-filled, action-packed fun, to young viewers all around the world.”
Since its February premiere on PBS KIDS, Ready Jet Go! has reached 22 million viewers, including 7.6 million kids on linear TV, and its content has been streamed more than 93 million times since January. A consumer products program including licensed toys, publishing and apparel is also on the horizon.
Aimed at 3-8 year olds, Ready Jet Go! follows Jet Propulsion, the new kid in town who is an alien from outer space, along with his Earth friends, Sean and Sydney. Together, the trio sets out on astronomical adventures exploring the solar system and how it affects Earth, while learning about friendship and teamwork along the way.
Created by Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold!, Dinosaur Train), the series is produced by Wind Dancer Films with the company’s Dete Meserve and founders Matt Williams and David McFadzean as Executive Producers. Major funding for the series is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). International distribution excluding U.S. and Canada (but including broadcast rights for the latter) is handled by CAKE.