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.”