Production to commence on landmark Tales from Outer Suburbia adaptation

A television adaptation of Shaun Tan’s bestselling illustrated anthology Tales from Outer Suburbia is heading into production, thanks to major production support from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) and Screen Australia in association with the ABC.

The Oscar-winning team behind The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan and producer Sophie Byrne (Highly Spirited), has joined forces with Barbara Stephen and Alexia Gates-Foale from leading animation studio Flying Bark Productions to produce a 10 x 22-minute animated series.

Tales from Outer Suburbia is a multi-award-winning book, which has been translated in 28 territories across the world.

Director Noel Cleary will lead a stunning recreation of the world established in the internationally acclaimed anthology, with a cutting-edge CGI animation with a handcrafted stop-motion look and feel. Shaun Tan will oversee the series as Creative Director, with Sophie Byrne (Highly Spirited) and Alexia Gates-Foale (Flying Bark) as Producers.

The series begins when ‘almost thirteen-year-old’ Klara and her six-year-old brother Pim move to Outer Suburbia with their newly single mother Lucy. The siblings' summer holiday turns into a series of unexpected and surreal adventures. The family goes on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, encountering weird and miraculous phenomena as they adapt to their new reality.

The series was developed by the ACTF during COVID with assistance from Screen Australia. It will be produced at Flying Bark Productions in New South Wales and at Siamese in Western Australia.

Shaun and Sophie have worked together previously on the 15-minute short film adaptation of Shaun’s picture book The Lost Thing, which won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Flying Bark Productions is one of Australia’s most experienced and preeminent animation companies. Its credits include Maya the Bee, Blinky Bill, Glitch Tech and 100% Wolf.

Creative director Shaun Tan said: Sometimes it takes a truly strange event to reveal how we feel about our place in the world, and what things we care about most deeply. With Tales from Outer Suburbia, we hope to awaken that fantastic realisation that fiction and reality are never very far from one another, that there is really no such thing as ‘normal life’.”

Bernadette O’Mahony, ACTF Head of Content said: “We are excited to have Tales from Outer Suburbia go into production after extensive development. It takes a lot of committed, like-minded partners to turn such a visually stunning book into something just as special on screen. We can’t wait for the world to see Shaun Tan’s vision come to life with this talented team.”

Alexia Gates-Foale (Flying Bark) and Sophie Byrne (Highly Spirited) said: “Shaun Tan’s anthology stories have a unique way of portraying modern suburban existence in an enchanting and sophisticated way, and it will be a joy to reimagine them for a broader audience. From an enormous water buffalo in an empty lot, to humans with cat-like features, the true story of each episode is how ordinary people react to these extraordinary incidents. We are thrilled to see these stories realised on the ABC.”

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Tales from Outer Suburbia is a Highly Spirited and Flying Bark Productions production for the ABC. Major production investment from Screen Australia and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation in association with the ABC. Produced in New South Wales and Western Australia with Siamese and financed with support from Screenwest. International sales by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation. Adapted from Shaun Tan's multi-award-winning book Tales From Outer Suburbia. Directed by Noel Cleary. Creative Director: Shaun Tan. Writers: Sam Carroll and Lally Katz. Producers: Sophie Byrne and Alexia Gates -Foale. Executive Producers: Barbara Stephen, Bernadette O'Mahony, Julia Adams, Francesca Hope and ABC Executive Producers: Libbie Doherty, Jo Boag.

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