Report – Sneak Preview: ‘Stardog and Turbocat’

Posted on: Thursday 05 July 2018 12:48am by Michelle Jones

Jan and Ben started Red Star in 2004 creating TV ads and theme park attraction videos but they also wanted to make animated films… Royalties from the attraction sector videos gave them the opportunity to monetise short-form projects and ten years later Red Star has grown from a team of 8 to 24 and now have the skills, team and the confidence to invest their own money in a feature.


  • The film industry and investors want to see a script
  • Red Star recruited using LinkedIn
  • You cannot underestimate the power of star talent
  • If you’re going to put money and effort into a feature, create and build a franchise with merchandising, a TV series and feature sequel opportunities in mind.
  • Plan properly, get the pipeline right. It costs a lot to develop but even more to produce a film.


Rob – Where did you recruit your staff from?

Jan – We actually used LinkedIn…. all the studio animation is created locally in Sheffield – it was only the audio and the composer that were not local.

Rob – Where did the idea for the feature come from…..?

Jan – “Four years ago my 2 year old daughter started talking about superheros – Batman and Superman etc and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was a superhero for young children, a superhero franchise for the whole family’” and so Ben wrote a script.

Rob – What is the important thing that the investors wanted to see?

Jan – Visuals are good to show but investors want to see a script and to know who is writing it.

Rob asked about the announcement of Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy in the film.

“At first we didn’t want to go down that route of casting big names but after plugging away for seven years we changed our minds. We were introduced to Michelle Jones (Brilliant Casting) who approached Bill Nighy and Gemma Arteton for two cameo roles…and they said yes!”

Red Star took StarDog & TurboCat to Cannes. Ben had a five minute meeting with Kaleidoscope, mentioned Bill and Gemma’s involvement, and walked away with a deal. Rob said that you cannot underestimate the power of star talent.

Red Star invested much of the £2.1m budget themselves; 20% of the funding came from presales in China, Vietnam and South Korea. Further financing came from Head Gear and Screen Yorkshire.

Rob – How do you make the project safe for your investors?

Jan – Experience taught us how do things economically. Securing offsite data cloud backups and systems that supports growth are all important.

Jan also added “plan well to avoid lags in the pipeline – development costs money but nothing like the cost to produce. If you don’t have the work for your team you are throwing money away”.

CMC 2018 Blog Event Reports animation Casting Project

Michelle Jones

About the author

Michelle Jones

Brilliant Casting, Casting Director

Michelle, with over 20 years experience in the entertainment industry, started Brilliant Casting in 2012 and casts actors, character voice artists, children and star talent for pilots, TV shows and feature films such as 'Thomas & Friends' and 'Bob The Builder' for HIT Entertainment, 'Henry Hugglemonster' for Disney and 'Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter' for Studio Ghibli.… Read more