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pilote / 8 minutes

commissioned by zdf / 2014

The children's book "Törtel" tells the story of a young turtle. He spends his time in window display of a pet shop in Berlin. But one day the turtle is freed by some wild animals and brought to a place where they hang out. The animals already moved to the modern city years ago to have a better life. Nature can be quite rough after all. 
Soon the young turtle has to make up his mind if he prefers living in a cosy terrarium or facing the daily struggles of modern city life.

The books, written by Wieland Freund, introduce us to a group of wild animals as well as some pets who all live together in a suburb of Berlin. The group of misfits have to rely on each other to survive in an environment designed for humans, an environment the animals now also call their home. Broadcaster ZDF approached our studio with the idea to turn Wieland’s stories into a TV-series. We loved the set up of the books and produced a pilot episode in 2014. One aspect that was especially intriguing to us were the different size relations of the animals. All of the characters had their own individual perspective on life.


Compassion and cooperation is needed if the animals want to stay together. A kerb, for instance, is not an obstacle at all for a fox on her way to have lunch. But if that very fox is for the first time accompanied by a proud turtle, a young, stubborn turtle too proud to accept any help, hunger can very easily bring the fox at the end of her tether. 
We loved how Wieland very elegantly even managed to add a third dimension to his stories when he simultaneously told a conflict between two animals through the perspective of a human who does not see the charming heroes of his books having a go at each other but only wild creatures being where they’re not supposed to be.

We stopped financing the TV-Series some months after the production of the short. Our gut feeling was that we would soon struggle to find strong storylines with a protagonist so slow and helpless as a turtle. We thought that Wieland found the perfect medium to tell his stories. Sadly, our studio did not find the right angle to transfer Törtel into animation. 


by Chloé Nicolay

character designs


Laura Anderson, Matthias Bäuerle, Carsten Bunte,  Pedro Ivo Carvalho, Paul Cichon, Dominic Eise, Mark Feller, Laura Feraud,  Ringo Klapschinsky, Matthias Lappe, Martin Minsel, Chloé Nicolay, Klaus Morschheuser,  Parzival Röthlein, Karim Saleh, Marcus Sauermann, Camille Scarella, Sabrina Schmidt, Mathias Schreck.

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