SAE students set sights on launching first adult animation series


4 Nov 2015

Kickstarter Image



SAE students set sights on launching first adult animation series

4 Nov 2015

A team of animation graduates from SAE Creative Media Institute has its sights set on launching Australia’s first animated adult TV series.

Smalltown Animation has just raised $6,000 through Kickstarter to put the finishing touches to a pilot program that will be pitched to Australian networks, platforms and providers.

Their series, Tough Love, is the brainchild of Brad Duence who teamed up with fellow students back in 2012 to create a comedy series about three 20-somethings struggling to construct adult lives in Sydney. 

Two years later, Duence and his colleagues, Sapphire Sheedy, Brett Irwin and Kylie Moreyra, have now secured funding to buy animation and editing software licenses, pay voice actors and acquire music licenses.

“We started working on Tough Love as our major project at SAE and it’s been a labour of love since then, with all of us spending at least two days a week to on the series to bring it to fruition,” Duence said.

“When I came up with the concept, I really wanted to create something that would make the most of my time at the Institute; to create something that was commercially viable and would help my employment prospects in the future.”

“There are plenty of independent Youtube animations out there, but they’re not produced by networks or designed for longevity. “My aim was to make something that I’d want to watch and that would evolve over time so audiences could get to know the characters and come with us on a journey.”

Duence said SAE has played a key role in getting the animation team on the right track.

“The teaching staff have loads of industry experience and connections and prepared us for life out in the real world; they know the hurdles and how to handle them, and were happy to share that information with us.”

It was an SAE alumni event that also connected Smalltown Animation with successful entrepreneur Anthony Mrsnik, Director and co-founder of international distribution and TV and film financing start-up, Escapade Media.

Mrsnik, who has also worked with Showtime on movie and TV blockbusters such as Tangled, Love My Way and Cloudstreet, said he was immediately impressed by the team and would be confident introducing them to key industry players including ABC, Disney, Nick, Cartoon Network, local producers and funding bodies.

“When I met Sapphire and Brad at the SAE event, they seemed energised and motivated and were trying to make their project happen,” he said.

“I liked their take on the process, storytelling and animation ideas."

“These guys are making adult animation which is an increasingly popular and growing field. With vision, focus and a well-executed product, they should find a wiling and able broadcaster.”

Duence said that Mrsnik’s mentoring and support had been extremely significant and boosted the team’s confidence.

Tough Love was partly inspired by Love My Way, which Anthony worked on, so it’s amazing to have this opportunity to connect with him, get his industry insights and learn from someone who’s a master in his field,” Duence said.

Duence is also employed as On-Air Manager and Progams Editor at digital radio station, Energy Groove Radio, which spans three continents. The station partnered with SAE in 2011, enabling students to be directly involved in the day-to-day running of a live broadcasting radio station.

He also helped to develop the Short Course in Digital Broadcasting at SAE that equips students with skills needed to work on-air in a commercial radio environment.

Duence, Sheedy, Irwin and Moreyra graduated with a Bachelor of Animation from SAE Institute in 2014. They aim to have the Tough Love project ready to pitch in March next year.