Wolves of Mangotown
Wolves of Mangotown
Pepe and her little bird friend Luco go door-to-door to sell homemade cookies and freshly picked flowers. They want to use the money to buy ice cream from Baba’s. But what they don’t know is that there are wolves lurking behind the doors of Mangotown…
The Wolves of Mangotown is Valerie Chang’s first film. Produced by our parent company Submarine.nl and distributed via Submarine Channel.
In 2014, Valerie Chang’s graduation film, Pepe Luu (below), made a huge impression on me. It was one of the best things to come out of the graduation show of the animation department of AKV | St. Joost in Breda that year. While Pepe Luu successfully toured the international festival circuit, Chang had already started working on a follow up film featuring the same characters and storyworld. When she won the prestigious Animation Wildcard from the Dutch Film Fund, Submarine jumped on board to produce The Wolves of Mangotown. An animated short that serves as a pilot to an animation series Chang is currently developing with Submarine Animation. In don’t think we’ve heard the last of Pepe Luu yet!
Valerie Chang about her ideas behind Pepe Luu, her aspirations and inspirations
What makes Pepe Luu’s storyworld so special, what sets it apart from other shows or storyworlds?
Pepe Luu shows us the world through the eyes of a child who is still in the process of forming an image of what life is. Together with Pepe we discover Mangotown which, due to the colorful design, may look a little crazy, but is also very recognizable. If I had to describe Pepe Luu in a nutshell, I would say that Pepe Luu is about people. Everyone you meet in life has their own story; your neighbor, the woman at the box office or the person sitting next to you on the train. And so everyone in Mangotown also has their own story – one that makes them unique. Pepe likes to play outside. This is how she comes into contact with the people in her neighborhood. Whether Pepe causes a problem or is trying to solve one, people somehow seem to find support with her because she approaches everyday situations just a little bit differently. Her uninhibited gaze and her enthusiasm always make people laugh. Via Pepe I map contemporary societal themes through an illustrated and animated version of our society. Because the world is shaped the way Pepe sees it, and the stories are full of humor, the themes I address are accessible to both young and old.
What if you could look into the future. Where don you see Pepe Luu in say 5 or 10 years from now?
I would like to make a Pepe Luu animated series. There are too many stories about Pepe and her neighbors that I would like to share, and there are too many interesting themes to address. It would be really cool if there is room in the series for actual character growth. Just like in real life where people experience new things and with each experience they grow a little. In addition, I am secretly thinking of other media or platforms. For example, a game in which people make choices and then see the consequences of their choices. And I imagine Pepe Luu having a place in the classroom. Certain subjects can be introduced more easily and discussed for children and adults with the help of a character like Pepe Luu. But now I am daydreaming!
If you look at what is now available in terms of animated content for the 6+ year-old target audience of Pepe Luu, what do you find most interesting? What inspires you?
Regarding Pepe Luu, I have to refer to the animation series I grew up with. They are already a bit older, but to this day I can remember specific episodes because they had an effect on me as a child. These were series that showed me a piece of reality in a medium that spoke to me as a child. I’m thinking of series like; Alfred J. Kwak, The Animals of Farthing Wood or Hey Arnold. The themes they addressed were instructive and also humanistic, and I say that about shows with animals as their main characters, haha. That is something I would also like to incorporate into Pepe Luu. It should be fun to watch and at the same time recognizable, so that after watching an episode you can still think and talk about it.
Regarding contemporary animated content I’d have to say The Amazing World of Gumball. This series is good at playing around with topics that are current in their target group, and they know how to convey those subjects in a funny and smooth way. Another series that I found interesting is Young Justice, but that target audience is somewhat older than what I have in mind for Pepe Luu. I want to name other series but I have not seen a lot of them due to the lack of a digital TV subscription. Maybe I should just plan a vacation just to catch up!
Pepe Luu on Facebook
Meet the characters of Mangotown, see Pepe Luu in action behind the scenes, and much more.
Valerie Chang: Studio Tea Tales