Blackheath link to famous Lottie doll

Local film-makers and  animators were celebrating last week after they edged closer to a deal to produce a movie or a television series based on the best-selling British doll, Lottie.

Ian Harkin and Lucie Follett, creators of the Lottie Doll, with some of the children who would hope to feature in a mooted Lottie TV series or film.

Ian Harkin and Lucie Follett, creators of the Lottie Doll, with some of the children who would hope to feature in a mooted Lottie TV series or film.

The Lottie doll was launched in 2012 and is already on sale in 1500 stores in 12 countries. The doll has been deliberately designed without make-up, jewellery or  high heels. She has a child-like body, without a bust or curves, and is aimed at giving a healthy view on body image to girls from 3-9 years.

Her creators, British pair Lucie Follett and Ian Harkin, were in Katoomba last week to meet with some of the local creative minds to discuss transferring Lottie’s success to the screen.

The trip was sparked by a cold call email from Blackheath-based producer, Stacy Gildenston, who was so impressed to find a quality toy for her daughter she decided to pitch for the opportunity to animate Lottie.

Ms Follett and Mr Harkin were visiting Hong Kong and China and decided to make the extra trip to the Mountains for face-to-face meetings.

Ms Gildenston said their talks had gone way beyond expectations and the British couple had asked them to get legal advice on signing a contract.

“We had a really fruitful meeting and we are negotiating on a contract already,” she said. “We all were stunned, I think. We are going from a memorandum of understanding to something more formal very quickly.”

Mr Harkin said he and Ms Follett felt it was important “to work with the right partners” who shared their beliefs about Lottie as a healthy role model. “We believe the team here is going to deliver that for us,” he said. 

Ms Gildenston said it was a “wonderful opportunity for local creative talent to collaborate and produce positive content for girls. Lottie has adventures and dreams big and it’s this real life that girls want to see reflected back at them in media — not fairytales.”

At a gathering to welcome the couple last week, mayor Mark Greenhill revealed the results of research carried out for the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise (BMEE) on the significance of the creative industries sector to the Mountains economy.

“The industry employs 2700 local residents — that’s 7.6 per cent of the total residential population of the Blue Mountains,” he said. “Creative industries are in the top five employing sectors in the area.”

The study also estimated that the total output of creative industries, including all direct, industrial and consumption effects, was $592 million, with direct output $331 million.

“It is the third greatest contributor to the Blue Mountains gross regional product. The data supports council’s decision to back this industry’s development initiative,” he said.

The Lottie proposal arose from a film and animation workshop organised by the Creative Industries Cluster, a BMEE initiative.  Two other projects — an adult drama series and a regional tourism campaign — are also in the pipeline.

The Cluster manager, Kelly Blainey, said it would provide work locally, rather than in the city.

“Until now, working in the film industry has generally meant travelling to Sydney, or being contracted for pre- and post-production services by overseas firms, often working alone in a home studio.

“These new projects give local creative professionals the opportunity to collaborate, generate more local employment and, importantly, work closer to home,” she said.

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