EXCLUSIVE: Sky Children is creating youngsters’s ebook Uncle Bobby’s Marriage ceremony as an animated particular, as David Levine‘s Lightboat Media supercharges its give attention to tales with LGBTQ+ tales at their core.
Sarah S. Brannen’s story, advised by way of the eyes of a younger lady, Chloe, who learns her beloved Uncle Bobby is getting married to his boyfriend, Jamie. Initially involved that she’ll now not be his favourite, she realizes she’ll truly be gaining one other uncle after a fun-filled day trip with the couple.
The youngsters division of UK community Sky is creating it as a 30-minute particular for June 2025, in time for Satisfaction, with former Moonbug Leisure and Disney exec Levine in lively growth on the venture. Michael Vogel (My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, Transformers) is connected as the author.
Lightboat is eyeing co-production, distributor and pre-buying commissioner companions forward of the KidScreen Summit in San Diego, and has been in talks with streamers and platforms. Manufacturing is focused to start this yr.
Sky Children is each an ad-free, linear community on Sky’s pay-TV platform that provides Sky Originals, and an on-demand portal providing hundreds of episodes of youngsters reveals. It was works with channel companions comparable to Cartoon Community and Nickelodeon.
Uncle Bobby’s Marriage ceremony was first launched in 2008 in varied territories on the earth, after which re-released in 2020 in partnership with the LGBTQ+ media advocacy group GLAAD.
“It’s a common story for anybody about to get a brand new individual of their life and frightened in regards to the adjustments,” stated Levine, who is among the TV trade’s key inclusion advocates. “It’s all about with the ability to discover room in your coronary heart for brand new folks in your loved ones.”
Ian France, Commissioning Editor at Sky Children stated: “Our daughter introduced Uncle Bobby’s Marriage ceremony house from faculty to learn along with her daddies, and we had been all instantly taken with the story of change, inclusivity, and love. We at Sky Children immediately knew that this ebook deserved to achieve a wider viewers. Simply as Uncle Bobby touched our household, we stay up for inviting all households to share within the celebration.”
“I wrote Uncle Bobby’s Marriage ceremony practically 20 years in the past,” stated Brannen. “Similar-sex marriage had been legalized within the state of Massachusetts, the place I reside. I used to be surrounded by such pleasure, of people that had been collectively however had by no means thought they may get married. I used to be eager about writing a marriage ebook and the 2 grooms, Bobby and Jamie, simply appeared in my creativeness and requested me to inform their story.
“I’ve been fortunate sufficient to listen to from many youngsters who’ve advised me how a lot the ebook means to them and I’m certain an animated TV model would attain much more youngsters, not simply those with two mothers or two dads, however all who reside on this time of change. They’re our hope.”
Lightboat Media plans
Former Disney and Moonbug Leisure youngsters exec Levine boarded the venture after Sky Children controller Lucy Murphy optioned Brannen’s ebook. He had launched his UK-based indie, Lightboat, after we revealed he had exited Cocomelon agency Moonbug, the place he was Head of Studios. Previous to that, he had despatched 16 years at Disney, rising to VP of Children Programming earlier than exiting in June 2020.
He started Lightboat as a option to platform LGBTQ+ characters and tales, what he known as “ardour initiatives,” and rapidly struck a number of offers. “After Disney and Moonbug, I targeted on issues necessary to me and firms I wish to work with,” he stated in an interview. “Fortunately, a variety of fascinating initiatives got here my method.”
The offers included securing world manufacturing and format rights (outdoors the U.S.) to Children Speak, which was initially in growth with Disney+. The animated doc collection comes from filmmaker Sally Rubin and was developed from their/her movie Momma Has a Moustache, about youngsters’ views on gender.
“It may be simply loved by households collectively and spark dinner time conversations,” stated Levine. “After I heard the pitch, my thought was that this could be an ideal format to make on a neighborhood scale, reflecting particular person international locations’ youngsters and points. We’re engaged on an asset financial institution to share with native producers to both co-produce or license the format and promote in to native broadcasters.”
Levine and Rubin will probably be heading to KidScreen Summit in San Diego, which runs February 4-7, to pitch the present.
Lightboat has additionally been working with UK-based anti-bullying charity Variety Position Fashions to create a collection of shorts geared toward constructing empathy and celebrating distinction by way of an LGBTQ+ lens. On a restricted funds, the likes of Good Casting, animation agency Fabric Cat and author Hamish Steele (Lifeless Finish: Paranormal Park) have donated time and useful resource to creating the shorts, which had been premiered at a particular occasion at Levine’s former Disney EMEA places of work in London.
Levine has privately funded his enterprise, and is underpinning the eagerness initiatives with consultancy work for a bunch of purchasers in varied areas, usually “stemming from the connection between artistic and information,” he stated. “As soon as I used to be open for enterprise I received quite a lot of requires consultancy, and in order that turned the monetary engine of the corporate to assist the eagerness initiatives,” he added.
“What I’ve cherished is with the ability to be a of various corporations at completely different levels, and in numerous areas of the digital panorama. Leveraging information and consumer exercise and expertise into an ongoing artistic proves is one thing I used to be in a position to study in my yr and a half at Moonbug. I’m taking that have and bringing that to varied corporations.”
This consists of working with Mattel to redevelop one in all their key properties with a watch on leveraging YouTube and social media information to tell artistic instructions. Levine can be working digital media agency Electrify Video Companions, which operates creator manufacturers and youngsters channels, on its manufacturing and inventive methods. Work for 9 Story Media Group relies across the Canadian agency’s YouTube technique, digital content material manufacturing and growth slate.
“Trying outdoors the standard ecosystem is crucial,” stated Levine. “The businesses I’m working with come from cellular gaming, AR, AI, sports activities groups and the creator financial system. That’s balanced with working with Mattel and 9 Story, however 9 Story is first a job with the digital media workforce. It’s about these different mediums to seek out IP and firms which can be addressing youngsters and households in methods which can be subsequent technology.”
The U.S.-born, London-based Levine stated he’s trying to spend into older-skewing content material within the LGBTQ+ house and is in talks with UK producers to convey codecs with variety and inclusivity at their coronary heart into the nation.
He’s additionally working with Championship soccer facet Southampton on AI-driven content material and cellular gaming co TutoToons, supporting its new animation studio, and continues to steer the Huge LGBTQ+ (and Ally) dinners alongside Verite Leisure. These efficient fundraisers started at MIPCOM and have expanded to Kidscreen, Annecy and MIA. A dinner at Kidscreen on Feb 6 will profit the San Diego LGBT Group Heart, and is anticipated to boost $2,000 for the charity.