HALF-BROTHER – HALF-SISTER, HALF-POWERS!
Mo and Sam have inherited some powers from their great-great-great-grandma who happened to have a fling with a superhero, many moons ago. But, being half-siblings, they’re going to have to share these powers down the middle. Upshot: these two “sorta superheroes” run half as fast, turn half invisible, and shoot threads half as far!
No latex suits for these heroes, and no missions to save the world. Nope! All Mo and Sam have to do is make their daily lives as kids half-livable. A challenge even Superman probably wouldn’t want to face!
Director: Cédric Frémeaux
Authors: Romain Gadiou and Chloé Sastre
Character designer: Yann de Preval
Backgrounds designer: Anthony Vivien
Producer: Pierre Sissmann (Cyber Group Studios, France)
Format: 52 x 11′
Target audience: Children 6-10
Technique: 2D digital
50/50 Heroes is a new animated comedy series released last autumn on France Télévisions. The series is produced by Cyber Group Studios and commissioned by France Télévisions and The Walt Disney Company in Germany and Eastern Europe. It is captivating the global market and has already been sold worldwide to ITV (England), Discovery (Latin America and Italy), The Walt Disney Company (Japan), TG4 (Ireland), RTBF (Belgium), YLE (Finland), and many more.
The director of the series, Cédric Frémeaux, has served as a storyboard supervisor on Chip ‘n’ Dale, an animation series for The Walt Disney Company. Cédric says that this project started from Pierre Sissmann’s idea: “a very funny hero story” and ended up becoming a truly universal comedy, which centres on a topic common to all humankind: funny communications and interactions between family members. We heard the insightful story behind 50/50 Heroes from Cédric.
Interview with Cédric Frémeaux
Hideki Nagaishi (HN): What of the series do you think appeals to or entertains its target audiences the most?
Cédric Frémeaux: The show has a strong and unique artistic direction clearly initiated by Anthony Vivien (backgrounds) and Yann de Preval (character designs). The whole team did their best to create a fun, colorful world and super different characters that kids can relate to and, of course, laugh with. “Can we be friends with our heroes?” was the main question the whole team has in mind while creating the series. Thanks to this, I think, the public will feel connected to our main characters and will enjoy following them in their adventures.
HN: While the series is enjoyed by audiences around the world, are there any aspects or elements that are unique to French productions that make them so appealing?
Cédric Frémeaux: There is something unique in France that no one can take away from us, it’s the “French touch”. Moreover, in France, we are fortunate to have some of the most renowned animation schools in the world. All these elements added to the fact that most of the directors of my age grew up surrounded by US Cartoon TV shows and Japanimation leads us to have a unique style. In addition, nowadays, artists are constantly trying to find something new using the best of these cultures and the exceptional education they have received.
HN: How did your journey of this animation series project start?
Cédric Frémeaux: It’s a really fun story! It all started because I was working as a storyboarder on Droners, another great series, directed by Sylvain dos Santos and Gregory Leterrier and produced by Cyber Group Studios, La chouette Compagnie and Supamonks.
I saw the graphic bible of 50/50 Heroes on a desk, and I immediately recognized the incredible artistic work of Yann de Preval and Anthony Vivien, two artists from a renowned talent team “S.T.E.A.K Kollective”. Between you and me, I’ve been a fan of their work for a long time now!
I borrowed the bible and read it in its entirety during the night. The next day, I went straight to Pierre Sissmann, the president of Cyber Group Studios at the time, and asked him to work on it.
And what a coincidence, because at that time he was looking for a storyboarder for this project. Perfect timing! It all started like this.
HN: What were the most impressive things for you throughout the project of this animation series?
Cédric Frémeaux: To see that the work of so many people can come together to make such a great fun packed and beautiful series is an incredibly impressive thing. Getting everyone, the whole team, to follow the same direction has been one of my biggest challenges as a director. As a director, I had to supervise my artistic team (storyboader, background artists, …). I also worked in collaboration with the musicians: original music by Giacomo Lecchi D’Alessandro and Léonardo Rizzi and Justin Feyer, our sound designer.
It was important to get them all to enjoy building something together.
HN: What did you take care the most in terms of developing the whole story of the series and why?
Cédric Frémeaux: The most important thing for me was to make sure to respect the incredible work done by Chloé Sastre and Romain Gadiou, co-creators and co-head writers of 50/50 Heroes, as well as the work done by Yann de Preval and Anthony Vivien. I was lucky enough to have Chloé and Romain with me as writing directors during the whole process. We work under the supervision of Maud Chougui, the artistic producer at Cyber Group Studios. They are all super talented and helped us to have the most amazing series.
The goal was to respect their vision by adding my own touch. I tried to be careful to make a clear set up at the beginning of the episode, have some payoff jokes during the story and wrap up with something connected to the introduction. After that I tried to keep a global vision of the entire episode and find the right balance between jokes, emotions and action sequences. In this way I believe we are offering a strong episode to entertain the kids.
HN: I’m interested in how you developed the comedic elements of the story that I felt were universal. What did you take care in the most to create many of those fun scenes in each episode? I’m also interested in how you incorporated a more French sense of humor into the series whilst maintaining it as a universal comedy that makes the global audience laugh.
Cédric Frémeaux: Laughter is a universal language but my way of making people laugh is by making silly drawings. What we took care the most and the most challenging thing was to be funny every time without repeating ourselves. There is an evolution in the series in terms of humor. The first 20 episodes don’t look like the last 20 because we refused to make the same jokes.
And my personal biggest challenge was to make my colleagues, my friends, and the whole audience laugh.
HN: What was your most important aim or intention on the visual design of the characters and the story universe?
Cédric Frémeaux: Regarding the visual design, the main goal was to connect with the audience, through emotions. That’s why Yann’s drawings are excellent, they have big eyes, big mouths, we can easily show funny expressions and faces.
Regarding the story, what’s amazing with Chloé and Romain (co-creators and co-head writers), it’s that they are always making characters very human with a backup story, but they always create a deep crazy side of the characters too. For example, the character of Brick who talks to his wig named Jacqueline. I find it hilarious by the way.
HN: Could you please let us know the story behind the composition of the music for the series?
Cédric Frémeaux: It was a long journey to find the right partner for the show. We finally met Giacomo Lecchi D’Alessandro and Léonardo Rizzi, and it was obvious that they were the right partner for this show.
They directly understand the old school but nice vibes we were looking for. They are full of surprises and can make the audience laugh with a song, it’s incredible.
My role was to explain them what we needed to feel during the sequences, and they worked on these requests and came back with new crazy ideas and suggestions. Sometimes those suggestions were completely crazy such as the series.