Image courtesy of CONICAL

How The Green Fairy morphed into a transmedia franchise for CONICAL

The thing about ideas is you never know where they’re going to lead. What starts small can grow and shift, until one day a little thing becomes a world of its own.

You have to wonder if that’s how Alejandro Davila, Director at CONICAL feels now. In six years, a point of inspiration has not only become a studio, but a full-on, transmedia franchise built on a tiny green fairy that came to him on one of his walks.

“I looked at street lamps, traffic lights, and all sorts of glowing things around us and thought, ‘What if there’s a tiny little fairy living inside there? That’d be a good story,’” says Davila. What came next helped it take flight.

In 2016, he founded CONICAL, seeing an opportunity to take advantage of the growing momentum around interactive storytelling. With game engines at the core, he knew they could start telling different types of stories—ones that didn’t necessarily have to begin and end in one medium. But for now, it was full steam ahead on The Green Fairy VR, a prototype production of that would begin to dig into Davila’s lamppost inspiration.

Like all prototypes, CONICAL quickly began testing it out to see if they had something. One of their first stops was New Zealand’s Westfield Malls. A few interactions and it was easy to see that they had the makings of a hit on their hands. The New Zealand Film Commission saw something, too, and invested in the project, helping them build out the concept into the 10-minute virtual reality short it is today.

What’s so charming about The Green Fairy, besides its upbeat characters, is that it’s essentially a story about realizing that our unique qualities are what make us special. Our heroine has to learn this the hard way at the hands of some mean yellow fairies (you can see the whole thing on Oculus now), but ultimately, this path leads to self esteem and friendship. A wonderful premise for us all, and a big win for CONICAL. But now that they had started building this world, they didn’t want to let it go.
Image courtesy of CONICAL
Their first extension was an AR version that let parents and kids interact with The Green Fairy, only on their tabletops. Then they got approvals to start making a TV version that would enable them to build out their Red and Green Fairy characters for kids watching New Zealand’s TVNZ, during that coveted Saturday morning slot we all know and love. Suddenly, that little idea looked like an ocean of opportunity.

“We wanted to dive into this content more, and tell more about this world, so we ended up doing vlog videos,” said Brad Thomson, Production Manager at CONICAL. “We also looked into doing a book for kids. This same story could be shared with a younger audience and they could experience it in a different medium. It started to become this really cool transmedia project.”
Image courtesy of CONICAL
To do this, the team continued to rely on Unreal Engine, making them among the first wave of studios embracing the technology in the animation world. But then they hit a snag. The New Zealand Film Commission, which had played a major role in funding the project, didn’t sign on for season two of the show, leaving the team wondering where things were going next.

While the team had enough client work to keep them going, losing access to their main passion project was a blow. A little deflated, Thomson started assessing options, and through a chance conversation heard about Epic MegaGrants. Taking a shot he sent in an application with no expectations, only to find that the project was approved.

“Hearing that Epic Games was going to help us fund some of this work that we had been longing for blew us out of the water,” said Thomson. “We didn’t expect any of it to come through and it came at just the right moment. It gave us a chance to really put our best foot forward and do the thing that we were passionate about. It reignited that flame in us.”
Image courtesy of CONICAL
Besides continuing work on The Green Fairy, and all its offshoots, CONICAL also began taking her to Tik Tok, posting amusing “vlogs” that racked up hundreds of thousands of views. Whether it was the Green Fairy teaching the Red Fairy how to draw her or talking about fairy likes/dislikes, the team has constantly found ways to dive into this new fairy world, giving it a life beyond one medium.

Nowadays, CONICAL is working on their first video game, Faeborne, which will be an “all-new action fantasy adventure RPG series that combines collecting, exploration, and fast-paced combat,” and act as another extension of The Green Fairy IP. Interestingly enough, CONICAL also credits the MegaGrant for opening the door to this project, too, as its validation helped them secure the seed financing they needed to get it off the ground.
Image courtesy of CONICAL

Help aside, CONICAL is the perfect example of what can happen if you follow your gut and keep after what moves you. Or as Thomson puts, “Anyone, if they are truly passionate about something will follow it. It will come to life, whether it takes a day, a year, or a week. If you’re passionate, you can make anything happen.”

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