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How “S.O.S. Fada Manu” turned empathy into an Emmy nomination.

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At a time when Brazil is experiencing its worst economic and political unrest in a generation, the nation’s animation industry remains a beacon of hope and stability amid the uncertainty. As we mentioned in a recent article about Estúdio Escola de Animação, a school Toon Boom partnered with to give youth free animation education, the South American country’s production levels have never been higher — or received higher acclaim.

Alê Abreu’s “Boy and the World” became the first Brazilian film to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2016 Academy Awards. And just last month, there were an astounding four series from Brazil nominated at the International Emmy Kids Awards at MIPTV. A shining star among them was “S.O.S. Fada Manu”.


 The 2D animated series is aimed at preschool-aged children and follows young Manu as she learns how to be a fairy godmother. It has been praised for its empowering portrayal of female characters and promoting open-mindedness, often by taking traditional tales and giving them a twist. (Think: Cinderella’s feet are too big to fit into her glass slipper.) As Brazil’s social turmoil brews divisiveness, “S.O.S. Fada Manu” is helping to ensure the next generation values difference and diversity.

Now entering its third season, “S.O.S. Fada Manu” is co-produced by Boutique Filmes, Lightstar Studios and children’s television channel Gloob, and is created using Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and Harmony 2D animation software.

SOS-fada-manu-toonboom.pngSource: Boutique Filmes.

We spoke to Boutique Filmes' executive producer Tiago Mello about “S.O.S. Fada Manu”, what it’s like being nominated for an Emmy and the importance of animation in Brazil.

Congratulations on the International Emmy Kids Awards nomination! How does it feel to receive such a great recognition?

TM: It’s amazing to be part of a wonderful group of high-quality projects. It’s even better that we can also be in touch with international producers and broadcasters. Also, it’s important to note that this project is only possible thanks to the hard work of our great coproducers Lightstar Studios and Gloob! Together, we are producing better content every day.

Has the Emmy nomination brought greater attention to “S.O.S. Fada Manu”?

TM: Yes, we have confirmed our third season and a lot of channels are looking to acquire the series.

sos_fada_manu.jpgSource: Gloob

Do you think Brazilian animation is becoming more noticed by the international industry?

TM: We believe in Brazilian content! And we are only at the beginning of our journey to being part of the global industry. It is important to note eight to 10 years ago, we didn’t have an animation and kids’ content environment here in Brazil. Now, we have series on all channels including Gloob, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids and Nickelodeon — across a diversity of styles and target audiences.

Our regulation agency ANCINE and Brazilian Content (the producers association program supported by APEX and the Ministry of Culture) are key elements in furthering this development.

Are families demanding more children’s content by Brazilian animators?

TM: Yes — right now we have animated series on all the channels with great ratings. All the studios are looking for great professionals.

sos-fada-manu-toonboom2.pngSource: Boutique Filmes.

What’s the inspiration behind “S.O.S. Fada Manu”?

TM: We want children to accept difference and diversity. In the series, we break down the stereotypes of the fairy world. We want to show how beautiful Cinderella can be with enormous feet and how Rapunzel can be awesome with dreadlocks. I think audiences are connecting with this idea and having fun with our storytelling.

How has working with Toon Boom 2D animation software helped create “S.O.S. Fada Manu”?

TM: The software made it possible to bring a higher level of quality to the project using all the resources in Toon Boom’s toolbox. Our director Jean de Moura from Lightstar can offer some more insight…

Jean de Moura: We used Storyboard Pro and Harmony; Toon Boom was there from storyboarding until final output. It definitely facilitated the entire production pipeline. We were able to create all the art department work directly in Toon Boom, vectoring elements and making the material useable for production.

sos-fada-manu-toonboom3.pngSource: Boutique Filmes.

All the effects were created in Toon Boom, allowing us to build a reusable library. The rendering of the final images was quick and efficient. The series is heavy in effects and characters, and the backgrounds are very rich, but we were able to composite them all with relative ease — though some scenes took longer than others!

What advice would you give to another Brazilian studio hoping to receive international attention like an Emmy?

TM: Think always in quality and how your project can be a step forward in the industry. Try to create something new and fresh!

What excites you most about Brazil’s animation industry? Let us know in the comments below!