Disney commission means 40 animation jobs in the bag


IRISH ANIMATION studio Brown Bag films has been commissioned to make a new series for Disney Junior, creating 40 jobs.

The Happy Hugglemonstersis based on an Irish book series and will air on the children’s channel in more than 150 countries from next autumn.

Twice Oscar-nominated Brown Bag films will produce the series in its Dublin animation studio. It is to be directed by Emmy-winning Norton Virgien, best known for directing Rugrats.

The 52 episodes of 11 minutes each are aimed at preschool children and will follow the adventures of five-year-old Henry Hugglemonster, the middle child in a monster family.

The I’m a Happy Hugglewugbooks were written by Irish author and illustrator Niamh Sharkey. She is working with the studio to ensure her two dimensional illustrations are authentically replicated. She described the development as a “dream come true”.

Brown Bag will employ 40 additional full-time staff over the next 18 months, many of whom it hopes can be retained for future productions. The jobs created by the series show “how the creative economy has such an important role to play for Ireland”, Brown Bag cofounder and chief executive Cathal Gaffney said.

He said Ireland was now considered “one of the best territories in the world” for animation.

Chief executives of several Irish animation studios had collaborated to build a “brand Ireland” and attract international broadcasters, and this had been “very effective”, he added.

However, there were not enough suitable graduates coming from Irish colleges and as a result the company now employs staff from 18 countries, he said.

There was a “huge sense of urgency” in the need for Irish graduates to work in both the growing computer animation and gaming industries, he said.

The company received a loan from the Irish Film Board to develop the series and pitch it to Disney.

It is the second series Disney has commissioned for the Irish company, with Brown Bag’s production of Doc McStuffinsfor the channel airing this summer. Next year Disney Junior will also air Brown Bag’s Octonautsseries, which was nominated for a Bafta.

The company has previously been nominated for two academy awards for animated shorts Give Up Yer Aul Sinsin 2002 and Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beautyin 2010.