Uprooted logoUWindsor film professor Tony Lau was a producer on the CBC Gem series “Uprooted: the Plantemic”

Prof produces new animated series

Looking for some fresh pandemic entertainment? Check out the new animated series Uprooted: The Plantemic, just released on CBC Gem.

The series is the brainchild of Filmloft, a Canadian production company owned by four partners:

  • producer Tony Lau, a film professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Film,
  • writer and director Betty Xie,
  • editor and producer Aram Collier, and
  • producer Joseph Chung.

Plantemic was one of 20 projects to receive production funding from the CBC Creative Relief Fund in 2020.

The five-episode animated series follows the daily challenges and triumphs of five houseplants confined with their human at home during the pandemic lockdown, as they adapt to a new way of living.

The cast lending voices to bring each of the unique plant characters to life includes Andrea Bang of CBC comedy Kim’s Convenience, Rosalina Lee of Netflix’s Seoul Searching, Franco Nguyen of the CBC sketch comedy TallBoyz, and Eric Bauza — five-time Emmy nominated voice actor whose credits include The Ren and Stimpy Show, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Woody Woodpecker, and Luke Skywalker.

In many ways this was a typical production project completed during the pandemic, says Lau.

“We met over Zoom or FaceTime. For the voice actors, I scheduled studio time for them in the cities where they were living: Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Toronto,” he says. “Some of the team I still haven’t met in person.”

Lau documented all the details of the production process and his activities as producer and turned it into a 12-week seminar course last year.

“I cannot draw anything, but as a producer I can teach my students how I was able to get the funding all the way through the process, and working with this big name cast,” says Lau. “Taking the methodology and putting it into practice to make the show. The students were really happy at the end of semester. They really appreciated the seminar.”

To kick off the show’s launch, cast and crew members asked Canadians to show some love for their plant pals that have kept them company throughout the pandemic by posting selfies with their favourite houseplant on social media using the hashtag #PlantemicPal. Participants are encouraged to visit the official Instagram account @UprootedShow for more details.

“We encourage everyone to get creative — whether it’s a selfie with your best begonia, a solo photo of a fickle ficus or even a sketch of a succulent,” says Lau. “Our hope is that ultimately, the #PlantemicPal initiative will create a sense of community and comfort by bringing together plant aficionados during a challenging time.”

Watch the series on the free CBC Gem streaming service.

—Susan McKee