Johnny Thunder was an interesting development project at theskonkworks/Calibre Digital Pictures. Originally conceived as a pitch to get Bob Thompson from Lego Media (Co-Creator of the Bionicle Brand and Executive Producer of the first three Bionicle movies) interested in further expanding Lego’s film & tv universe. I had recently returned from Aardman Animations in the UK to become Director of Development and then Executive Producer at Calibre Digital Pictures when it was decided that we’d try and track down Bob to get an “audience” at the upcoming Kidscreen in New York (where all of the TV buyers go to sell and buy kids based entertainment). After a couple of weeks of pulling strings and asking for favours, I got the elusive email and telephone number of Bob and gave him a ring in the UK to pitch the concept of “Johnny Thunder” as a TV series. I remember it as being 2 weeks before Christmas.
Bob was receptive in that very reserved British way and he agreed to meet in February at Kidscreen to see a “test”, which of course we hadn’t started making yet. After the phone call, I sat in my office thinking, “holy shit” we’re going to have to make a short in less than 6 weeks! Mobilizing our amazing team, who were also producing Ace Lightning season 2, Shoebox Zoo, and Henry’s World, we put together a team of about 30 people who volunteered to work extra time to design, develop and finish the test.
With days to spare before the big meeting, everything was in place. A custom “Johnny Thunder” leather pouch with pitch materials, DVD’s of the short and my flight tickets to New York for the big presentation. Here’s the original pitch.