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.

From the Crew to the Producers of Wapos Bay: Thank you!

Dennis Jackson, Melanie Jackson, Anand Ramayya

Watch this exclusive video from the official wrap party! Some of the crew share memorable moments and thank the producers of the Gemini-award winning Wapos Bay!

Want more Wapos Bay fans? You can purchase DVDs on the National Film Board of Canada website and watch for our interactive eBooks and ‘kart-style’ racer video game both coming out this fall!

Don’t forget to check in about the exciting NEW series, Guardians, from the producers of Wapos Bay!

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

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.

The Future of Wapos Bay Studio

As the Wapos Bay crew is busy in production on the movie, Long Goodbyes, the Wapos Wheelz video games & eBook, the Production team looks forward to what the future may bring.


Day 1: Shooting begins on “Long Goodbyes” at Wapos Bay Studio

The stop motion children’s animation series that has been going for five seasons and won numerous awards and screened at festivals around the world officially begins production on its movie today. The production team is also delighted to announce the launch of WaposBay.com and their production blog, as well as the development of a “Wapos Bay” video game.

Here’s a quick peak at the studio from yesterday:

“It’s been a long journey for us,” said producer Anand Ramayya of their start in 2003 with a pilot episode, the eventual development to a series that began airing in 2005, and winning their fourth Gemini award in 2010. “In the last five years we’ve done over $11 million dollars of production in Saskatoon, and we’ve employed over 50 people every single year. We’re proud to have built up the reputation we have [as being one of the top-rated stop motion studios in the country].”

“Long Goodbyes” will be the final installment of the TV series. In addition to regulars Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas) and Gordon Tootoosis (Legends of the Fall), expect to hear some new voices in the movie, including Canada AM’s Seamus O’ReganBeverly Thomson, Marci Ien and Jeff Hutcheson. The movie will premiere in the fall on APTN with a limited advance theatrical release.

View an animatic teaser clip from the movie at:

Award Winning – Gemini Award for Best Writing in a Children/Youth Series

Wapos Bay Productions recently won the 2010 Gemini Award for Best Writing in a Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series, to Trevor Cameron for his episode, The Hardest Lesson.

Over the years, Wapos Bay has earned many awards of excellence. We spoke with the award winning cast and crew at our celebration on April 24 2009, about the win of the 2008 Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Individual or Ensemble Cast in an Animated Production. The 2008 Award went to the cast of “Guardians” including Andrea Menard, Gordon Tootoosis, Lorne Cardinal, DerRic Starlight, Trevor Cameron, Jody Peters, Eric Jackson, Raven Brass, Taylor Cook, and guest star Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man).

Here is a complete list of awards and selected nominations to date:

Award Winning

Over the years, Wapos Bay has earned many awards of excellence. We spoke with the award winning cast and crew at our celebration on April 24 2009, about the win of the 2008 Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Individual or Ensemble Cast in an Animated Production. The 2008 Award went to the cast of “Guardians” including Andrea Menard, Gordon Tootoosis, Lorne Cardinal, DerRic Starlight, Trevor Cameron, Jody Peters, Eric Jackson, Raven Brass, Taylor Cook, and guest star Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man).

The Production recently won the 2010 Gemini Award for Best Writing in a Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series, to Trevor Cameron for his episode, The Hardest Lesson.

Here is a complete list of awards and selected nominations to date: