Rabu, 15 Ogos 2018

Malaysian Made, China Bound: ANIMASIA @ Kre8tif! Conference 2018

This talk is about the series Chuck Chicken by Animasia Studio Sdn Bhd presented by their COO, Wong Kuan Loong.

Ah Loong giving his talk while Hassan Muthalib listens. The hall wasn't
empty, it's just the crowds were filling in the back row first. Malaysian
hospitality picked up from school days.

Animasia Studio is simply Bola Kampung! An animated series that was first shown on RTM, then produced into CDs before making it's way into Disney channels. I love the character design. Animasia is also Supa Strikas - the animated football team with Caltex logo on the jersey. Selling 'em young. Animasia Studio is also, although not too popular here, Chuck Chicken.

Inspired By
The pony tailed Kuan Loong started his talk loud. A jolt to the sheepishly audience of mostly Malaysian. It all started in the year 2001. That year, Kuan Loong was running a small multimedia
studio called Fosil Studio. Multimedia was then, definitely CD ROMs. That year too, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was a hit on the local cinema. He, as many were, was enticed with the movie and the fight scenes lingered in his head. So while having lunch in KFC on day an apple fell on his head. He saw KFC differently that day. While others see Kentucky Fried Chicken, Kuan Loong saw an abbreviation for Kung Fu Chicken!

So he proceed to create his Kung Fu Chicken in between free time for a period of 2 years. He got together a short demo story and showed it to everyone - family, friends and clients. They all love it! All thumbs up for Kung Fu Chicken. But then what's next? Not knowing exactly where to go next, he uploaded the short demo on to his company website.

In many ways, inspiration comes, in many ways ideas arrive - Yoda would say.

The Call
In 2004 a distributor called the office to say that he is interested in the short demo and would like to met up, suggesting putting it to RTM. Kuan Loong, having had his bad experience with brokers, middlemen or orang tengah, never return the call. "I don't care. But after two weeks that guy called again," says Kuan Loong dramaticly.

So they meet up, talk, share ideas. Soon he discover that these guys shared the same vision on the local animation industry. These guys were currently his partners, Edmund and Raye. (If i got this wrong, do correct me. I was note taking, whatsapping and clapping at the same time.)

From the first demo of Kung Fu Chicken

First design

Clips of Kung Fu Chicken - what else?

The Marketing Begins
So, Kung Fu Chicken travelled to a few markets. Hong Kong Film Mart, Mipcom, MipJunior and likes. By 2006, they had another demo done. This time around, the chicken was given a more macho look. They were still finding the right directions. Coming across Ben 10, Kuan Loong tried giving his Kung Fu Chicken extra power to change into other animals. Citing the TV series Beast Master or was it Manimal, as his other inspiration. And in 2010, a new demo was released. All their hard work paid off when Nickelodeon India excepted the series for a pre show. But the name has to change. Why? As Kuan Loong was all into Kung Fu Chicken for years, a name change would be a disaster. 

Name Change
Nickelodeon gave a simple logic - they have Kung Fu Panda. They can't have two shows with similar names. The team sees their reasoning and crack their head to name the chicken. Obviously it has to relate to Kung Fu. So the name Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Jet Li and likes came into play. They finally decided on Chuck Chicken, inspired by Chuck Norris.

KFC logo

And The Rest is History
Chuck Chicken was aired on Disney India in 2014. By 2015 it was in Disney Channel SEA region and then went into China. China is huge tells Kuan Loong. They were intimidated by the other series having hundreds of episodes with studios multiple times bigger than Animasia. The day it went on air it got to the second spot. The next week it went up to number 1. We were lucky they tough. Chuck Chicken kept their place on the number one spot in China for several weeks. We were lucky again and again, says Kuan Loong modestly. This led to numerous awards, licensing and partnerships.


At a mall in Foshan, China 

Part of China Promotion

Chuck Chicken Battle Adventure Theme Park

Chuck in China
Today, Chuck Chicken has made it in China. It has it's own merchandise, road shows and mascots. They even have a small carnival happening at a mall in Foshan, China. Ironically the birth place of Kung Fu lagend Wong Fei-Hung. Chuck Chicken also manages to rake in 1.7 billion views on iQiyi - a China based online channel. In near future, a theme park would be opening in Tampoi, Johor.

Animasia, together with a few other IP creators of Malaysia has done us proud. Kudos.

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