Tony Orsten, CEO of twofour54.
Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning media production precinct, twofour54, has secured its first production deal to develop a children’s animation series in conjunction with UK-based 3Line Media.
The series, Driver Dan's Story Train, will feature a mix of live-action and animated sequences and will be produced by a team based at twofour54 that will include animation graduates from the precinct’s tadreeb training academy.
The 52 x 11 minute episode series, which was conceived by British illustrator and children's author, Rebecca Elgar, is set to air in the spring of 2010 in the UK on the BBC children's channel, CBeebies. Middle East distribution deals will follow accordingly.
The series is the first to receive funding from twofour54’s ibtikar media investment arm.
"With this deal, twofour54 is taking its first steps towards establishing a sustainable media and content industry in the Middle East and North Africa," said twofour54 CEO Tony Orsten. "We are sure it will be well received by Arabic TV channels throughout the region."
Orsten said the format had been specifically developed to enable it to be localised for foreign-language markets. Live action footage will be produced in the various source markets and will constitute a key element of the series format.
"One of our objectives is to stimulate and produce high-quality, original content for the MENA region... Driver Dan's Story Train offers us the opportunity not only to co-produce a new children's property but also to [steer] its content in an appropriate direction for the region and its culture," added Orsten.
"Increasing and improving the levels of literacy amongst Arabic speaking children is a priority in many MENA countries... Driver Dan's Story Train is the perfect vehicle upon which to build an early reading programme."
Meanwhile, twofour54 will expand the scope of the ibtikar funding arm later this year to provide grant funding to UAE nationals on a not-for-profit basis.
The 'creative lab' funding scheme will provide grants ranging from US$1,000 to US$50,000. It will also support the conception and development of projects accepted by the scheme.