"In the summer of 2003, I had just sold my first children's book, Tickle the Duck, to Little Brown (owned by Time Warner at the time) and was riding high. My second child, Cooper, had been born a year earlier and our third child, Carson, was on the way in a month or so. Now that I had broken the wall down on getting a children's book published, I thought I would try my hand at animation. "It's got to be easier than publishing." I said to myself. "Ha." – Ethan Long, on the evolution of Farm Force
"The Batman series from the 70's was one of my favorite shows of all time, plus I loved the Super Friends cartoons growing up and figured this would be a great way to channel both of those loves. Also, one of my favorite places as a child was our home in Green Hills, PA, outside of Reading. We owned a farm but it had no animals, just a run down barn, chicken house, spring house and roughly 6 acres to roam around on and cause trouble. Based on what I loved, I decided to play around with the idea of farm animals with superpowers.
I did drawing after drawing, trying to nail down the characters, the setting, the colors. I had so many drawings, that I had to get rid of them every once in a while because the stacks were to large. I'm sorry there aren't any to show.
After months and months, and gallons of blood sweat and tears, I had to find someone to help me get it out into the world. First to pop into my head was Robin Cowie, who was the producer of the Blair Witch Project. I had met him years ago through some good friends and even did some freelance work for him. But he was the only producer I knew and since he lived in Orlando, I called him up and invited him to lunch.
He loved the project and felt like it was something he could sink his teeth into on the production front. Rob put out the feelers immediately for some production companies in Orlando that would be a good fit for our project. Who he found was a bit of serendipity. Disney had just laid off a bunch of animators and a few of them started a company in Orlando called Project Firefly. So Rob set up a meeting. Dom Carola, Paulo Alvarado, Greg Azzopardi at Project Firefly loved the idea and were excited to jump aboard. We spent some time getting all of our legal ducks in a row then started out trying to make a tv series. Heather Henson (Jim Henson's daughter) became interested in the project and agreed to fund the production for part ownership.
As an artist who was used to working alone, the team environment really threw me for a loop. All these people were taking my idea and wanting to change it and stretch it and make it something new. I was very territorial, which couldn't have been easy for everyone involved. I think they wanted to kick me out. During this time, I had a conversation with Dan Yaccarino, of Oswald fame, and he gave me the advice that if the show ends up being 75% of what you envisioned than you did pretty good. So I went back into it with a new attitude and some boundaries.
We decided that making a show and pitching it was hard, but we also wanted to make something where we could show the characters in action. That's when we came to the conclusion that we should make a short film. And that's where the fun really began.
We hired animators, story artists, a story writer, cleanup people, voice talent, musicians. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was the hardest thing I had ever undertaken, but also the most satisfying and amazing. We put together a wonderful short film to really show off what the show was about!
From there we submitted the film to the Nicktoons Film Festival which was an idea that one of the producers came up with. It ended up winning the Nicktoons Viewer's Choice Award! That caught the attention of Fred Schafer at Porchlight Entertainment in Los Angeles and just like that, we had a development deal!
Now from this point, we were as close as you can get to a production deal. We were ready to make the first season of the show. 13 episodes. There were two sides of the production team whose responsibility it was to raise funding.
As legend has it, one side of the funding didn't happen. and that's where it ended.
It may have been that there were too many cooks in the kitchen as far as ownership. It may have been that they didn't want someone as green as me running the show. Maybe it was all of it, but this wonderful idea never made it to TV. The short film appeared on TV when they announced the winner of the Nicktoons Viewer's Choice award, so technically you could say that it made it to television.
We still talk about it. It still comes up at parties. We all would love to make this show! Maybe now is the time for a parody of super heroes, with the overload of Marvel and DC movies that have bombarded us in the last decade and watered down the genre. Below is the latest pitch material. This show is sitting here, just waiting to be made."