Wapos Bay Q&A at ImagineNATIVE 2011

Check out the video from ImagineNATIVE 2011, including the intros & welcome and Q & A from the Closing Night Gala, and interviews with Andrea Menard, and Dennis, Melanie & Eric Jackson!

And check out the official trailer!

Long Goodbyes Preview

Can’t watch Sunday’s livestream? Watch the official trailer below to hold you over until the broadcast premiere on APTN! The national broadcast premiere is Saturday, Dec. 3 on APTN (8 p.m. ET on APTN HD and APTN East, 8 p.m. MT on APTN West, 8 p.m. CT on APTN North).

Make sure to watch for the eBooks, video game and episode downloads coming this fall.. And check out waposbay.com and waposbay.com/blog for all the latest news and updates from Wapos Bay!

Long Goodbyes Premiere & Livestream

The World Premiere & Stream

Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes, based on the Gemini award-winning TV series, will have its world premiere at the prestigious imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto at its Closing Night Gala presented by Global Toronto. A co-production with the National Film Board of Canada, the movie was selected for the closing night of the Festival’s 12th edition.

If you will be in the area or are interested in attending…
Sunday, Oct. 23 at 7:00pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St W)

Tickets for the world premiere / imagineNATIVE are available in-person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox or Phoenix Concert Theatre, by calling the TIFF Box Office at 416-599-8433, or online at www.imaginenative.org.

Fans from around the world will also have the opportunity to be part of the premiere via the Closing Night Technical Partner IsumaTV and a free live streaming at www.isuma.tv/nfb. Creator / producers Dennis & Melanie Jackson, actors Andrea Menard (The Velvet Devil, Moccasin Flats) and Eric Jackson will be available for the Q & A following the screening, moderated by imagineNATIVE executive director Jason Ryle who will be taking questions from the floor and via Skype for the online viewers.

“It is humbling to have our Wapos Bay finale movie screened at imagineNATIVE because it is one of the premiere indigenous film festivals in the world,” said Dennis Jackson. “It is always an honour to be recognized by your peers whether other indigenous people, animators, filmmakers or friends. This screening will be a unique experience because fans can log in online and they don’t necessarily have to be here in Toronto to watch the premiere.”

The night will feature a special tribute to Wapos Bay cast member, the late Gordon Tootoosis (North of 60, Legends of the Fall). Announcements of the future of Wapos Bay will also be made on the night, including the launch of several digital media properties. Led by Brooke Burgess (writer, director & producer of Broken Saints), properties include a Mario kart racer – style video game, eBooks and episode downloads.

Other Festivals

The movie has also been selected to screen at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (Oct. 29), American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco (Nov. 5) and LA Skins Festival in Los Angeles (Nov. 16-20).

Broadcast Premiere on APTN

The national broadcast premiere for Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes is Saturday, Dec. 3 on APTN (8 p.m. ET on APTN HD and APTN East, 8 p.m. MT on APTN West, 8 p.m. CT on APTN North).

Coming Soon!

Make sure to watch for the eBooks, video game and episode downloads coming this fall.. And check out waposbay.com and waposbay.com/blog for all the latest news and updates from Wapos Bay!


Spotlight on NSI Alumni Dennis & Melanie Jackson

By Liz Hover, NSI

2011 marks the National Screen Institute’s 25th birthday. We’ve been training writers, directors and producers how to be storytellers since 1986.

In our latest alumni spotlight we’re proud to feature husband and wife team Dennis and Melanie Jackson.

Between them they’ve been students in four of our training programs. Not only are they the clever folks behind the award-winning TV series Wapos Bay (developed through NSI Totally Television) but they also find time to give back as associate faculty members of NSI’s New Voices program. Together they run Dark Thunder Productions Inc.

Spotlight on Dennis and Melanie Jackson

Dennis says: “NSI training gave me a confidence in the pitching process by teaching me the dos and don’ts when approaching a potential broadcaster. They’ve structured this by streamlining your project to its essence so that you know exactly what the broadcaster needs to know about you and your show.

Dennis is a graduate of NSI Totally Television (2002-03), the Aboriginal Cultural Trade Initiative (2004) and Featuring Aboriginal Stories Program (2009).

He began his career in elementary school watching 16mm prints of animation on aboriginal creation tales. Dennis remembers sitting at the back of the class as the teacher explained animation with the individual frames. Dennis has since received Gemini nominations for both his writing and directing of Wapos Bay. This animated series has received four Gemini awards of excellence.

Melanie Jackson says: “NSI training gave me confidence in the co-production process by teaching me the dos and don’ts when approaching a potential partner.  [The program] allowed me to participate in learning the process and what’s available in the international industry.”

Melanie is a graduate of NSI Storytellers (2005) and Featuring Aboriginal Stories Program (2009).

Melanie is a producer with over 14 years proven experience in development and programming of many hours of original drama and documentaries across several channels.

She has led creative professionals and built effective teams responsible for the delivery of quality programs. She brings a fresh perspective to the type of film, TV and digital media productions that can be successful in the marketplace and what skills are needed to create them.

Her ability to work with the leaders in our industry will help develop the most innovative, relevant and uniquely positioned in providing quality indigenous storytelling, high production values with excellence in stop-motion animation personnel and facilities.

Their successful TV series Wapos Bay is wrapping up with a movie called Long Goodbyes which will premiere in the fall on APTN with a limited advance theatrical release.

Read the official article here!

Wapos Bay Creators Share their Story

Courtesy Yorkton This Week

Wapos Bay is a popular animated show for children and students at Dr. Brass School had an up close and personal opportunity to learn more about the series they watch on television thanks to the Yorkton Film Festival.

Dennis and Melanie Jackson visited the school Friday to talk to students about the series which has just recently stopped production in Saskatoon.

“We finished 34 episodes,” explained Dennis Jackson co-creator of the series with wife Melanie, adding they have also just completed a 70-minute APTN Movie of the Week based on Wapos Bay and its characters.

Melanie said the longer movie was an ideal way to wrap up the series and bring some closure to the characters of Wapos Bay.

“It gave us a chance to wrap up some lose ends, and go down some different paths for some of the characters,” said Melanie.

The series actually came about based on the success of a pilot Christmas at Wapos Bay, which won the Best of Saskatchewan Award at the YFF back in 2002.

The special episode aired on APTN and opened doors to the series, said Dennis. “We already had a relationship with APTN,” he said.

While they had a foot in the door with the national aboriginal broadcaster, the longevity of Wapos Bay was never exactly clear.

“Every year we didn’t know if it was going to end,” said Dennis.

While no immediate plans are in place for Wapos Bay, Dennis noted “we have ideas and still have all the puppets and all the sets.”

The series may have wrapped up production wise, but Dr. Brass students were still eager to ask many questions of the Jacksons, who were equally eager to field them.

“It’s really fun doing these,” Dennis told Yorkton This Week, adding he particularly likes watching children watch the show, or when they bring out some of the puppets used in the show. “It’s lot of fun seeing the excitement in their eyes.”

“Their eyes get big as plates and they’re saying “I know those characters,” added Melanie. Dennis said they don’t necessarily get story ideas or feedback from younger children, “but they laugh in the right places so that’s good to know.”

Talking to students is also a way to continue in essence what it was that drove the Jacksons to do Wapos Bay.

Melanie told the assembled students they wanted “to provide role models for Aboriginal people on television.”

Wapos Bay was the vehicle to create positive role models, with the first story coming from something Dennis had written in school, a short story on his grandfather.

While school visits are good for the Jacksons they are also good for the students said teacher Julie Parisloff.

“In general media literacy is huge now,” she said. “It’s a huge part of learning.” So to have someone visit such as the Jacksons is a rare opportunity to broaden that learning, said Parisloff. “We’re very lucky to have them come to the school,” she said.

Parisloff added what the students learned from their visitors can be built on by teachers in class later, through concepts such as creative writing, and Aboriginal history.

As for the Jacksons, they are not walking away from animation, as they start production of six episodes of a new series; The Guardians this fall, with an expected air date of fall 2012.

“It’s also stop motion,” said Dennis, referring to the familiar puppet style of Wapos Bay. “It’s set 41 million years in the future,” he added with a grin.

The series, geared toward teenage boys is purely science fiction.

“In the distant future, the Earth is reborn and nature has been replenished after a global catastrophe triggers a twenty six thousand year long ice age, the result of which has destroyed modern civilization and has brought about the extinction of ninety five percent of planetary species as we know it. Massive bunkers built deep beneath the Earth, are home to the Guardians, advanced machine-like androids were pre-programmed to initiate human births. The Guardians raised the children specifically to re-populate the New Earth. The oldest humans are fifteen years old and must lead the human race. They soon learn that they are not alone on the planet. They discover that an intelligent species, the Dumathar, has staked out a home world beneath the Earth’s oceans.”

Wapos Bay Lives on in Digital World

By Emily Claire Afan, Playback Daily

Wapos Bay the series may be coming to an end on the small screen this fall, but the Saskatchewan team behind the children’s stop-motion animated series has plans for the franchise to live on in the digital media world.

Producers Dennis and Melanie Jackson, and Anand Ramayya recently wrapped production on the final episode, which will air as a feature-length MOW on APTN called Long Goodbyes.

Marrying the traditional art of stop-motion animation with the new interactive side was no easy task, but the team was intent on keeping the same look of the series across the board.

According to Hulomedia transmedia producer Ryan Lockwood, WaposBay.com is a “very close translation” of the series that plays on the exploration and adventure themes that have drawn kids to the series for the last five seasons on APTN. (The site received CMF funding.)

WaposBay.com launched last fall, and this coming fall, the interactive offering is Wapos Racerz! (pictured), a Mario Kart-esque style casual racing game from Toronto independent game company Phantom Compass.

“It was a challenge to do the game in stop-motion,” show creator Dennis Jackson tells Playback Daily, echoing Lockwood’s thoughts on keeping the stop-motion look consistent across Wapos products. “It would probably be easier to do it in Flash, but we were adamant to have it look like the show.”

Lockwood worked with fellow Hulo producer Brooke Burgess on the game as well, noting that animators on the MOW also contributed to the creation of Racerz!

Digital extensions of the brand slated for this fall include an interactive storybook series for mobile and tablet platforms that allows readers to flip between Cree, French and Inuktitut languages, as well as linking to videos on its YouTubechannel. On top of that, Wapos Bay episodes will soon be available for downloading on iTunes, streaming rentals and for sale on DVD on Amazon.com, IndieFlix and Netflix.

On tap next for Hulo and WBP is another stop-motion sci-fi project called Guardians, a project which Melanie Jackson says is already locked into coproduction deals with Australia and New Zealand.

New inspiration for Wapos creators

Wapos Bay’s Trevor Cameron, who is the voice of the character Kohkom, and the character Jacob talk over the script in a set up shot.
Photograph by: Sp Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix

By Sean Trembath, The StarPhoenix April 19, 2011

After a decade, 34 episodes and one feature-length movie, the team behind beloved Saskatchewan stop-motion children’s show Wapos Bay is moving on.

“It’s quite bittersweet. You develop a project for so long. It’s 10 years we’ve been doing Wapos Bay here in Saskatchewan,” said Melanie Jackson, who wrote, produced and directed the show with her husband Dennis.

Monday was the last day of shooting on Long Goodbyes, a movie of the week for APTN, the final chapter of the show. The movie will air this fall, date to be announced.

The Saskatoon studio is still full of characters and sets familiar to all who have seen the show. While some models will be re-purposed, fans could get a chance to own a piece of the show’s history.

“We might have some draws or a contest to be able to take part of Wapos Bay home,” said Melanie.

Promoting the movie has given the studio a chance to try out a new medium, its first video game, in co-operation with Toronto game development studio in Phantom Compass.

“All the visual assets for the video game were produced here in the studio,” said TransMedia producer Ryan Lockwood.

Wapos Racerz is a Mario Kart-style racing game featuring characters and locations from Wapos Bay. The Canadian Media Fund, a federal program designed to encourage development across all forms of digital media, helped with financing.

“We just wanted to extend the whole Wapos Bay experience into other spaces that kids and fans of the series could play, share and interact with,” said Lockwood.

The game, still in development, will be released on several Internet game sites a few weeks before the movie airs.

While sad to see Wapos Bay end, both Dennis and Melanie are ready to move on to Guardians, their next stop-motion project. Guardians is a science fiction series for teenagers set 41 million years in the future after an ice age. The story follows teenagers of various indigenous descents who have been raised from embryos by robots in an underground bunker as they venture out into a world vastly different from what we know today.

The Jacksons have been developing the show for seven years, but the idea goes even farther back.

“It’s a series I’ve always had, since I was 14. It became more affordable to do something sci-fi, with computer software getting better and a lot of animators coming out, especially here in Saskatoon,” said Dennis. His excitement was palpable as he talked about getting the project underway and designing the fantastic settings and creatures his characters will encounter.

“In pre-production, we’re going to be exploring these worlds – what we can build, what has to be computer graphics. It’s just going to be a huge development process,” he said.

Guardians will begin shooting next winter. The first six episodes will air in the fall of 2012 on APTN.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/entertainment/inspiration+Wapos+creators/4638644/story.html#ixzz1K4vHCg00

Wapos Racerz by Phantom Compass

My name is Tony Walsh, and I’m the founder of Phantom Compass, a Toronto-based company that makes games in support of TV series. We’ve contributed to game projects on CBC, YTV, Teletoon, and now APTN with “Wapos Racerz,” based on the hit TV series Wapos Bay.

In Wapos Racerz, a free online game launching on the official Wapos Bay site later this year, players will choose one of four characters from the series–each of whom drives a unique go-kart–and race through the town of Wapos Bay and its surrounding wilds. Players will be able to spot visual surprises during the race, and collect Slushy Kitty cups to unlock video clips. Racing against three other characters, or against a “ghost” racer of their best time, the player can try for a personal best score or submit their high score for others around the world to beat.

All of us at Phantom Compass are fans of animation–and from a personal standpoint, I’ve always loved classical stop-motion animation (my background is in illustration). The team at Wapos Bay Interactive is currently hard at work animating the characters and vehicles for the game. We’ll be using these stop-motion animations in combination with 3D graphics to provide a fast-paced racing game true to the vibrant look, feel and spirit of Wapos Bay.

Phantom Compass began making the game early this year and at the time of this writing we’re busy with the game’s first playable prototype. The prototype will be a rough test to show how the basic physics and driving system plays out. While we’re making the prototype, we’re also generating concept sketches and “pre-visualization” footage. At this stage, we’re roughing out the entire game–nothing’s pretty yet, but by mid-year we’ll have some eye candy in place.

Over the coming months we’ll be providing the Wapos Bay team with updates on the game’s progress. This will provide a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making a game, and maybe even a chance to offer your suggestions for what you hope to see in Wapos Racerz!

Wapos Bay Studio Open House

We’re having another Open House so you can come check out behind-the-scenes of the four-time Gemini award-winning animation studio in Saskatoon!

What: Wapos Bay Studios – Open House
When: Friday, April 15th from 1pm to 6pm
Where: Wapos Bay Studios
Why: So you can get a tour of the studio and meet all different types of crew members, from animators to the creator!

School groups and individuals welcome!

The creators of Wapos Bay will officially announce their new TV series Guardians which will be produced in Saskatchewan. Come get the inside scoop on Wapos Bay The Movie that will premiere this coming fall, and the video game in development with Toronto-based Phantom Compass who has been involved with game projects for CBC, YTV and Teletoon.

Please RSVP to Shelly Bowes at 306-955-0036 or email shebow2000@hotmail.com to save your spot and get more information.

Find the studio via the map below!

Sneak Peek at “Guardians” Character Design

While Wapos Bay is in production on the movie, Wapos Wheelz! video game and eBook, the Art Department’s Amber Rees finds time to sculpt the maquette for CHUM, one of the characters of “Guardians,” Dennis Jackson’s next project.

The sculpt of CHUM is based on a concept drawing by Andrew Doll seen here:

and the detailed architecture of the maquette here:

Guardians is a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic adventure series for teen boys.’ – Dennis Jackson, Creator.

I think we’re all excited about trying something new and that’s original and that’s another creation from Dennis that we can all sink our teeth into creatively and technically because it will be a totally different thing than shooting Wapos Bay. There will be lots of action sequences, lots of robots, and lots of different terrains that I think we’ll be able to create for the show.’ –Anand Ramayya, Producer

Synopsis:  In the distant future, the Earth is reborn and nature has been replenished after a global catastrophe triggers a twenty six thousand year long ice age, the result of which has destroyed modern civilization and has brought about the extinction of ninety five percent of planetary species as we know it.  n massive bunkers built deep beneath the Earth, the Guardians, advanced machine-like androids were pre-programmed to initiate human births. The Guardians raised the children specifically to re-populate the New Earth. The oldest humans are fifteen years old and must lead the human race. They soon learn that they are not alone on the planet. They discover that an intelligent species, the Dumathar, has staked out a home world beneath the Earth’s oceans. Connected to their past, armed with advanced technology, the youth must balance the danger of repeating history and co-existing in the New World.

Guardians is in development with support from the Canada Media Fund, SaskFilm, APTN and Wapos Bay Productions.

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