So? What’s the story?

And before we know it, the last update was more then a year ago. A lot has happened with the project. We are in the final phase of the story development. Just within a couple of months we can start with the beat boards, a pre-story board phase where we visualise the scene’s (and not like a story board all the actions/take’s). We talked with a lot of possible production partners, it is a gigantic puzzle with hundreds of pieces because it will be a medium/high budget 3D CGI production (for European standards :-), we still don’t have the complete puzzle ready.

From the trenches,


It’s Tarzan! With Robots!


Unlike most European presentations at CARTOON MOVIE, we presented our project with a clear and short tagline. And not having any final visual art yet, we decided to do our mandatory ‘lunch-teaser’ with just that one tagline and a little bit of sound design, timing the words just right.

‘Its Tarzan.. with robots…. Tarzan with ROBOTS … WITH ROBOTS!! … cool… ROBOY’.
It was a dead-simple tongue in cheeck kind of thing.

We got the laughs we were hoping for. The film is not really a comedy, but a teaser at CARTOON is a way to lure people to the show, so .. well it worked, it teased and lured people to the presentation.

2016-03-04 13.33.41The three of us presented the idea, the concept, the main character, some early concept art-work, the themes and our our ambtions. And then our time was over. Hopefully leaving people wanting for more.

In our strategy the ‘in concept presentation’ at CARTOON is sort of a ‘debutant ball’ for the film. We are still in early development and were not aiming for landing big coproduction deals or sales but to claim the idea, set up for next year and maybe catch some early interets.

2016-03-04 18.34.38

Which we did. Of course we did: it’s Tarzan! .. with Robots!

We had some nice meetings that all logically came down to: keep us informed, we like it.

IMG-20160306-WA0002We used the rest of the event to introduce ourselves to other producers, distributors and to reconnect with many co-producing collegues and our Dutch collegues. And to have some good food and fun.

At some time we had so much fun (and food and drinks) it almost hurt. All part of the networking! All part of the job.
Monday we’ll be organizing all the business cards and following up on all meetings.

And now it is back to the drawing board and the writing machine! We promised many people that the script will be ready early this summer!

Selling a wonderful car

At the beginning of March we present our movie-under-construction ‘Roboy’ on Cartoon Movie in Lyon, France. Cartoon Movie is a ‘pitching event intended to create a synergy between producers, investors and distributors of feature-length animation films’. In short; we hope to find partners to co-produce our story.

The last months we focused on the storyline of Roboy. Of course we have some idea’s about the look

and feel of the movie but our main target was to transform the concept of a boy brought up by robots into an exciting adventure where families (and tweens) can relate to. And that will be the challenge on Cartoon Movie; we must show people how wonderful this ‘brand new car’ can be.  Without showing the actual car. All we have are sketches and moodboards, simply produced to give us some direction, to help us develop the storylines. Now the story is more or less ready we really felt that the artwork was not helping us to show the audience on Cartoon Movie the potential of the story. We needed new artwork without starting a whole development-fase.

So what’s the strategy?

For the presentation on Cartoon Movie we have three tools; we can tell people the potential of our story, we can show people how enthusiastic we are and…we must can give a taste of how amazing the look and feel of Roboy will be if we do it right. We need to show the story in 5 wonderful mood- or storyboards, representing all the elements of the movie. The new exciting world of Roboy, the innovative character of Roboy versus the programs doctrine of the robots, the discovery of the second part of the wreckage in a dark and dangerous place in the jungle, the first contact with his human-family, the brute research of his robot family by scientists and of course the ‘end battle’ where Roboy chooses his true family; the Robots.

For this artwork we focus on the look of Roboy and his older ‘brother-robot’ I-Saac. Those two main characters must be at least 65% right. The designs must help us to sell the story.

We asked Leo de Wijs for the ’65% right’ sketches. I worked with Leo on the development of The Pluym Family, a story based interactive educational program. For the storyboard-like cinematographic visuals -who will include the designs of Leo- we asked Paco Vink from the Anikey Studio’s. My writers-in-arms Michiel Snijders and Arnoud Rijken worked with Paco on several big animation features as ‘Trippel Trappel’ (director) and the ‘Woezel and Pip’ movie (storyboards).

So the prologue of the Cartoon Movie presentation has started. We ‘ll keep you posted!


Photo's. Top: Leo and Patz at the Story*laboratory of CircusPatz. Bottom: Arnoud, Paco and Albert at the Anikey Studio's.


Getting the Science ‘right’.

We met up met Bas Haring last monday. He is professor Artificial Intelligence at the University of Utrecht and the author of a great book about the subject: “The Iron Wil” (de IJzeren Wil). We talked about our film story and the science part of the science fiction we are producing.

It is great to talk about this film idea as if it is real thing. “What if ..” is the start for any great science fiction idea and for philosophy. The light version of philosophy in our case: we had beers, we laughed a lot. We discussed the idea of a boy that grows up in an family of robots and the fact that this boy also thinks he is a robot. We ‘tetsed’ some of our fictional events and ‘facts’ on him and in general it was all given the ‘scientific’ stamp of approval: “yeah could happen”. Which is kind of all you want as creatives that take science fiction serious. As said: it wasn’t really hard work research, just great to discuss the idea and enjoy the company and conversation of a real expert on the subject.

One thing really stuck in our minds though. Bas said: ‘please do not give the robots or the boy some magical ability that makes the whole story possible, because you don’t need it’. He is right. It should all be science based. Not some fantasy thing. The very near future of robotics and especially artificial intelligence will be fantastic enough.

Presenting at CARTOON MOVIE 2016

Roboy will be an international co-production. Presenting a project at an international sales event or co-production platform is one of the most efficient ways to meet possible co-producers, distributors, sales agents, networks and many other parties that could collaborate with us on the development, production, financing and distribution.
So we are quite happy and proud to be selected to present at  CARTOON MOVIE!

See you all there!

Research – not a dull thing

One of the great things about writing can be the research. It might sound dull, but we don’t really go and dig up information in moldy old libraries, or study lengthy articles or spend hours investigating. No it’s fun.

We intuitively roll go from watching films with cool robots, to reading short newspaper clippings (we use Blendle to constantly keep us up to date on the word ‘robot’) and browse some pictures and enjoy novels (the classics).
It is nice to learn a lot about one specific topic and to use that knowledge. It inspires and actually gives us great ideas for the drama. Some things you can not make up!
And now the three of us enjoy discussing Artificial Intelligence philosophy. What is the difference between a programmed robot and a simple life form like an ant? Why do we call the ant alive and the robot not alive? And what would we need in our story to make the machines ‘smart’ or even have ‘emotions’. And can they have emotions? What are emotions?

Without spoiling the whole script we are currently writing; those discussions, and some of the answers to those questions will be relevant in the story. And we want to make the philosophy work. It has to be ‘right’ even though it is al fiction.. it is SCIENCE fiction.

Luckily we found this great book about the subject. And the author of the book is willing to talk to us!

exciting research

– to be continued –

First baby steps

It is a long journey from having an idea to finally having a film in cinemas around Europe. We will probably repeat this phrase a lot the coming years. But it is true. But why?

If we would take the point of view of the audience (you) and consider the whole process of getting this animated film off the ground as a long wait, more then half of that time is waiting for the film production to get started. Most of the wait is developing the idea and the financing.

Financing an animated film of 5 million euros will take at least two co-producers, fifteen parties for financing, distributors and tv-networks. We need to get them all interested, then we need them convinced of the reality (yes it will happen!) and then it will take months to get all the contracts. Even that is complex and takes a lot of time.

We’ll not bore you with the details.
The process is one of baby steps. We will keep you posted here of those steps. Steps that often need to be taken in a very specific order. And the first steps are the hardest.
Right now we are preparing a presentation at CARTOON movie where we’ll try to interest collegues from around Europe (co-producers, distributors et cetera) and we have put in a proposal at ‘Creative Europe’ wich hopefully will help the financing of the development.
To be eligible for this you need quite some documents (practice steps). For example a letter of interest from a tv-network. Baby step. Goal is to find a network executive that likes the idea (even though it is still in early development!) and who thinks it fits their programming (somewhere in the far future).

So we are proud to say: we have got a letter of intent from the Dutch network AVRO-TROS!  If they can actually help finance the film will all depend on how we continue from here on with the script et cetera et cetera, but it is a great feeling that there is the intent! It feels good to have a letter saying ‘ yes we like this idea and beleive in te team ‘.

Baby dance 😉


An extra pair of eyes

When you tell what in which way to the audience of a film, is key to how exiting, dramatic and or how funny things will be for that audience.
As writers we can sometime manipulate time like gods: ‘shall we introduce this character now? Or shall we wait and make her even more sad?’ and ‘Do we want him to find [insert information here]?’ or ‘shall we show the whole thing here or leave [insert mystery] a mystery?’
And while we are writing, it is often quite difficult to really ‘read’ the consequences of the choices we make in that regard.

For that, you need  an extra pair of very well trained eyes.IMG-20151110-WA0003 (1)

So, although we have a team of three writers (two of them in the picture) we can often really use an expert to look over our shoulder: Ernie Tee (top left in the frame) is doing just that. Ernie is our script editor for the project. He analyses the script and holds up the mirror to our film-to-be. Very often story structure is discussed.

The flip-over is what happens when we get back to the office…

There we start with the puzzle..


IMG-20151110-WA0004 (1)


It's wonderful how things in live can happen. I live and work in Utrecht, the Netherlands. And one fine day I sold the movie rights from one of my books (The Extraordinary Diaries of Victor Veggiestein) to this animatiestudio from Brussels, Belgium. 

They presented the Veggiestein plan on CartoonMovie (it's a kind of European animation movie fair) in France and there they met Arnoud and Michiel from Il Luster productions. A couple of weeks later these Belgium producers introduced me to this two guys who worked an 8 minute walk from my place in Utrecht. A year later we sat in the conference room of the Il Luster headquarters and discussed this wonderful idea of a boy raised by robots after an airship crash on a inhabited island. 

Welcome to our journey!

RB_strandfotoAnd here we are; proud to announce the development of the animation feature film Roboy. Like every great journey this journey starts small. One rookie movie writer (The grey guy on the right) and two writers/producers with the same dream. We want to develop and produce something amazing. And we think we found it in our story of Roboy, Prince of Robots. Like Tarzan grew up in a familie of apes, our young hero Roboy lives on a deserted island with a group of Robots as his family. Roboy never met a human and due to a mysterious chip in his brain he connects wireless with the robots. You could say he thinks he’s a robot to…or do the robots think they are human?  A story about growing up, about feeling different and the fact that being alive is not just having a beating heart. Hope that you will enjoy our journey!