Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm
Firestorm originally started as a Japanese anime series co-created by Gerry Anderson and John Needham back in 2003. The show combined CGI animation for mecha and traditional cel animation for characters and the environment. Despite the quality of the production and an emphasis on the futuristic hardware that has always been a core tenet of Gerry Anderson productions, the anime version of Firestorm didn’t find an audience in Japan. The show subsequently failed to secure a wider release and so became a more obscure part of Anderson Canon. However, in 2014 Anderson Entertainment (under the auspices of Jamie Anderson, Gerry’s son) announced a crowdfunding campaign to produce a pilot episode for a new television series of Firestorm using practical film-making techniques including miniature effects and puppetry. It’s been a long road since then but today a debut “minisode” was shown at MCM Comic-Con London and simultaneously released on You Tube.
While making Firestorm, the production team returned Gerry Anderson’s original documents. The story is set in the year 2102 and follows the adventures of Firestorm, an elite international team comprising of Sam Scott, Nagisa Kisaragi and Drew McAllister. They battle ongoing acts of sabotage by the elusive Black Orchid organisations. The miniature effects crew includes film industry veterans Steve Begg, Bill Pearson and Mike Tucker (whose collective body of work include Bond films and Doctor Who). The puppets are produced by the company Mackinnon and Saunders. Firestorm is made in “Ultramarionation” (the spiritual successor to “Supermarionation”), which features rod operated and animatronic puppets, physical sets, and actual explosions. The debut “minisode” marks the first new Anderson production since 2005. If all goes to plan, there is the possibility of full series of 26 episodes of 22 minutes apiece, which will hopefully begin full production in 2019.
According to Jamie Anderson, Managing Director of Anderson Entertainment who will be producing the new series "We've updated the Firestorm concept my father created with the development of “Ultramarionation”, the next generation of production techniques to really bring the wow factor back to the small screen”. The short but succinct “minisode” certainly showcases all the major selling points of the new show. The puppetry is incredibly detailed, allowing the characters to walk, run and emote. The physical effects and miniatures are of the highest calibre. And most importantly of all, there is scope to give the characters interesting back stories and explore their lives. This was always the big selling point of previous Gerry Anderson productions, especially Thunderbirds. I hope that a suitable backer can be secured so we see a full and expanded series for this franchise. In the past Anderson productions have had a close business association with ITV, yet a show such a Firestorm would be a real catch for the likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime.