Acerbic old lady is animators’ new muse

Eastwood Media is working on a pilot based on the character of Aunty Acid.

Eastwood Media’s project is based on the character of Aunty Acid. (Images courtesy of Eastwood Media)

The Shockoe Bottom animation studio that gave life to Nutzy the Flying Squirrel is set to tackle its first full-length cartoon.

Eastwood Media this month inked a deal to develop a cartoon based on Aunty Acid, a pink-haired, plus-size Internet character known for her sassy one-liners. They’ll work with the Backland Studio, the U.K. production company that last year created Aunty Acid.

Kevin Harrison

Kevin Harrison

Eastwood co-founder Kevin Harrison said the cartoon would be the one of the first project the four-year-old company has done for pure entertainment value.

“This is the type of opportunity we’ve worked for since we started,” he said.

Harrison and partner Elias Dancey launched Eastwood in 2009 and moved this year into their office at 1813 E. Broad St.

Elias Dancey

Elias Dancey

The bulk of their business comes from marketing campaigns, with Eastwood designing animated characters for such brands as Pop-Tarts, Chex Mix and Nokia. They also created Nutzy, the mascot for Richmond’s minor league baseball team.

Dancey said Eastwood would continue to work in the advertising business while they produce the cartoon.

“We like to say runners run, chefs cook and animators animate,” Dancey said. “I’ll be just as happy working on Aunty Acid as I was when we did Pop-Tarts or Otter Pops.”

Eastwood will handle the animating and production side of the project, and the Backland Studio will help with story development and script writing.

Eastwood Media is working with local recording studio In Your Ear on audio for the project. They started to audition voice actors last week, and the first clips should be online this summer.

From start to finish, the cartoon could take between $250,000 and $500,000 to produce, Harrison said. Dancey said they plan to bring on two or three freelance animators to help with the project.

The company will produce a 30-minute pilot episode and pitch it to several TV networks and online distributors.

“You don’t necessarily have to make a deal with a major TV network,” Harrison said. “The landscape has changed so much in just the past few years. Now you have companies like Netflix and Hulu that are dying for this kind of original content.”

Since Aunty Acid debuted last April, she’s amassed more than 420,000 Facebook fans. Backland also sells a mix of Aunty Acid-branded merchandise, including greeting cards, coffee mugs and mouse pads.

Harrison said the built-in audience should help the cartoon get off the ground.

“She’s a relatable character with a long shelf life, and I don’t think she’s going away anytime soon,” Harrison said.

The video below features some of Eastwood Media’s work:

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Love Aunty, can’t wait!