Josh Campbell: Drawing the Universe in Prisoner Zero

December 2, 2016
The ambitious animated series Prisoner Zero, from Australian animation studio Planet 55, is a galaxy-spanning space opera that sees two teen heroes, Tag and Gem, along with their mysterious friend Prisoner Zero, battling the evil Imperium. With the first season now out on home release, we threw a few quick questions at series producer and director, Josh Campbell.

What was the genesis of the Prisoner Zero project?

Prisoner Zero was first pitched to the ABC in 2012 as a possible replacement for Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The ABC wanted a show that would be fresh and exciting but had a slightly different edge. The development of writing was the most exciting, getting to work along side Gary Russell, the Executive Producer/Lead Writer in developing the characters, the stories and building the world with him was very exciting.

What were some of the SF and animated films/series that influenced the show?

Prisoner Zero is a good mix of traditional western storytelling like Avatar: The Last Airbender or Doctor Who with an art style that is hugely influence by Dragon Ball Z and other classic anime from Japan.

Were there any comparable Australian animation projects you could look at to guide you?

No, Prisoner Zero is the first completely Australian animated show, where every frame was produced down under. We took a lot of guidance from Disney and Pixar.

Your animation team is famously quite young. What is the current state of Australian animation in your view? Is the industry growing in popularity?

Australian animation is becoming a stronger force in Australian film and TV daily. More and more companies are setting up, many focusing on 3D. But 2D, which is what Planet 55 have been doing, is growing too. Becuase it’s still a relatively young industry compared to live action, it is receiving some aid from the financial supports of the Australian industry, but it could always do with more. Otherwise we will face situations where Australian homegrown talent will quickly move to Asia or Canada or the States, where the work is more plentiful and studios are sometimes better financed by their governmental aid. And that is a shame. Australia has so much natural talent and gifted young animators, it’ll be a great shame if we end up losing them all before the industry has barely developed here.

Will we be getting another series in the future?

We are in talks with the ABC and our other partners to move forward with  a season 2. With an exciting and young brand it’s just too exciting to end on one.

Prisoner Zero: Rogue is available now on DVD and digital.



  1. James Dengel

    Let’s see a season 2 or at least some way to finish the librarian story line 🙂

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