Jiva Maya Wave the Chequered Flag on Kong Studio’s Animated Scenes for Lucky!
Kong Studio produced the noir-inspired animated sequences for Jiva Maya’s ‘Lucky!’- a documentary series covering the life and rise of Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Kong Studio’s latest TV project is the epic eight-part documentary series ‘Lucky!’, on the life and career of Formula 1’s Bernie Ecclestone. It was produced by Jiva Maya, a production company set up by Manish Pandey, the writer of the award-winning film ‘Senna’.
Manish Pandey, a self-confessed motor racing mega fan, had known for a while that he wanted to produce a film about Bernie Ecclestone, an ex-used car salesman who went on to change the international motor racing world of Formula 1. Manish first met Ecclestone in 2006, when he pitched ‘Senna’ to the F1 supremo.
Manish set the wheels in motion for ‘Lucky!’ in October 2019 and, to his delight, Bernie was up for it. Delayed by the pandemic, filming began in late 2020, 11 months after the documentary idea was first discussed. Most of the interviews were filmed at Ecclestone’s Olden hotel in Gstaadt, Switzerland, with a couple of extra filming sessions in Ibiza in 2021. It is fitting that Bernie was the only person interviewed for ‘Lucky!’. It seemed only right to Manish that Bernie should be allowed to tell his story in his own words, especially as Ecclestone has the extraordinary ability to recall any meeting or details of a moment that was asked of him.
With Bernie’s recollections in the can, and the myriad of archive footage research well underway, Manish and the Jiva Maya team started to explore options to visualise the moments in Bernie’s life and career where there were no cameras present. Re-enactments using actors didn’t feel right so the Jiva Maya team thought animation would be a great alternative.
Manish Pandey said, “We wanted to find a way to represent the legendary bosses of motor racing visually, and in a way to get the key characters across and how they interacted with Bernie behind the scenes. Each episode is around 47 minutes, with 7 minutes of interview footage, and 38 minutes of archive shots. That left 2 minutes to fill and that’s where we thought animation could play a part. Some of our chosen stock footage was low quality or were only available in black and white, so adding animation to the edit gave us an opportunity to add some colour.”
Manish’s brief was for the scenes to be atmospheric, situated within a particular time, and for the main players in Bernie’s life to be recognisable. The style of animation was also important. Jiva Maya wanted the scenes to have a film noir feel aesthetic but understated. The movements had to be small while also allowing for some humour to shine through. Kong Studio initially signed Kristian Antonelli to develop Bernie’s character design, giving the studio the head start they needed. With Kong’s pitch coming out in pole position, they had won the chance to create a series of noir-inspired animated scenes. Manish throws further light on Kong’s selection, “We went with Kong Studio to produce our animations as their designs were very bold. We knew from their strong sketches during the tender process that Kong Studio would be a winning partner.”
As soon as Kong Studio won the pitch, Executive Producer Emma Burch organised the extensive production schedule while Kong Studio Co-founders Bill Elliott and Tom Baker set to work getting the animation team together. Bill Elliott said, “Unfortunately Kristian Antonelli wasn’t available to take the project beyond the pitch stage. That’s where Daniel Prothero came in. We pulled together a fantastic crew of designers, animators and compositors to develop a simple yet atmospheric, tense and moody animation style which seemed to hit the brief perfectly.”
Every animated scene was meticulously researched for their era, location, team colours and logos to make sure every detail was there for the Jiva Maya team and any Formula 1 fan watching the show. Many of Kong Studio’s animators worked remotely delivering their work to series technical director Daniele Baiardini. He was the force behind pulling all elements of the animated sequences together into the final clips that you can see in the episodes.
Manish Pandey on the animations and the final series, “Throughout production, the Kong team have been organised and highly efficient. They produced animated scenes that are witty and full of character. The animation became a part of the story and that’s because the Kong Studio team fully understood our direction and the narrative we were working towards.”
All eight episodes of ‘Lucky!’ are available to watch on Discovery+.
JIVA MAYA CREDITS
Animations Commissioned by Manish Pandey at Jiva Maya
Director, Manish Pandey
KONG STUDIO CREDITS
Animation Director – Elliott Baker
Series Technical Director – Daniele Baiardini
Compositors – Daniele Zacchi, Frederico Parodi
Title Sequence Technical Director – Daniele Zacchi
Character Development – Kristian Antonelli, Peter Kasim
Character Design – Daniel Prothero
Background Design – Norm Konyu
Character Animation – Mark Abbott, Robert Findlay, Jimeno Farfan, Mick Lawrence
Additional Development – Wiktoria Lewandowska
Additional Animation and Clean-Up -Tomas Eisenburg
Additional Design – Nidhi Kelusar, Sally Tsoi, Sebastiano Fossali
Production Assistant – Amy Wilkinson
Executive Producer – Emma Burch