"The Last Whale Singer" "The Last Whale Singer"

Telescope Animation, a young German production company, has announced its first slate of upcoming projects. They reflect the company’s commitment to working across a range of media.

Leading the slate is The Last Whale Singer, an original animated feature due for release in 2023. Currently in development, it was presented today at Cartoon Movie, Europe’s leading pitching forum for animated features. The director is Reza Memari (A Stork’s Journey), Telescope’s co-founder and co-CEO. The company describes the film as follows:

The film takes audiences to the depths of the oceans with Vincent, a teenage humpback whale whose father possesses the ancestral gift of healing with his mystical song. As Vincent and his companion Percy travel deeper and deeper beneath the sea, fighting off dangers both natural and manmade, the young whale is forced to confront his destiny in order to protect the oceans from an ancient monster.

Although the film will serve as a standalone project, its storyline will be expanded through a prequel game, an ar/vr project, an interactive storybook, and a series for web, tv, or streaming platforms. The game will come out on Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, and PC. As Memari told Cartoon Brew, “We’re aiming to get it released before the film and really treat it as a standalone project, and NOT as a second-rate movie spin-off.”

Telescope is producing both the film and game with Unreal Engine. As the company says, “Both the film and the game are being developed using real-time game engines, allowing for flexibility through real-time editing and the sharing of assets between mediums.”

The slate also includes two as-yet-unannounced projects. One is a feature with a tie-in game and the other is a “potential episodic series,” also with an accompanying game. As with The Last Whale Singer, the releases will be original, standalone stories, but together they will build narrative universes.

Memari founded the company in 2018, having worked in screenwriting, directing, editing, marketing, and game development. He was joined by Maite Woköck, his co-founder and co-CEO, and a veteran producer. From the start, the company’s ambition was to conceive stories as transmedia projects, as Memari explained in a statement:

The tools and methods being used to create films, games, and a lot of interactive content are growing closer and closer together, but there aren’t a lot of production companies that are willing or able to take advantage of that. Telescope Animation was founded in part to allow us to experiment with what can be done through modern narrative design across mediums. With a close-knit team, our strong focus on storytelling, and advanced tools, we can allow ourselves to dream big and take chances.

Woköck added:

Our team shares a common vision for Telescope Animation as a transmedia hub, and we are telling stories that are important to us and reflect our values. Having that freedom to tell the types of stories we believe in, without limiting ourselves to one platform or medium, has changed how we look at creating content for increasingly sophisticated audiences who demand more.

The Last Whale Singer — the film — is being developed with Big Bad Boo (Canada), L’Atelier (Canada), and PFX (Czech Republic). Its first trailer will be unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

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