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Trevor Pryce spent 14 seasons in the NFL before retiring in 2010. He won a pair of Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. Then his imagination took off and he wrote a trilogy of acclaimed young adult novels about warrior frogs.
Pryce’s Kulipari franchise debuts its animated adaptation Friday on Netflix. The children’s series originates from his three novels—An Army of Frogs, The Rainbow Serpent, and Amphibians’ End. Pryce says he was lucky to have been an athlete with the time and money to will it into existence.
During his offseasons, Pryce says he found himself looking for things to keep him occupied after his morning workouts. “Every professional athlete, no matter what sport they play, has a pretty long and robust offseason, and if you have an imagination you kind of come up with things to do,” Pryce tells the Daily Dot. It was then that he taught himself the art of screenwriting and began to create Kulipari.
The idea first came to mind when he was forced to watch Planet Earth multiple times due to his family’s lack of a DVD collection. “There was one scene in the Amazon rain forest where they kept showing a tree frog leap from one tree to the next. When the clip is slowed down, the tree frog looked like a super hero,” said Pryce.
The rest came from a war scene in the movie 300, where Pryce says the army looked like “scorpions.” Combine the imagery, and you have the backbone of Kulipari’s tree wars imagery.
The story has had a few changes since its original creation, previously given the name “Poison” and holding a much darker theme. After backing out on a deal with Cartoon Network because execs wanted to turn the series into a comedy, Netflix picked up the story.
According to the Denver Post, Pryce paid half of the series’ costs. A comic book companion was released this summer, and a video game companion is in the works.
This isn’t Pryce’s first time pitching an idea to a major company. In the past he has sold projects to ABC, HBO, and Disney. He says he’s working on three more.
Pryce says the most exciting aspect about seeing his books turn into a Netflix series is seeing his characters speak different languages: Dutch, German, French, and Russian are just a few of the languages the series will come in—19 altogether.
“These are all languages I can’t speak and have never spoken, and all of the sudden my characters are speaking them. That was the Hollywood moment,” Pryce says.
Brianna Holt is a New York City journalist who covers entertainment and technology. Her work has appeared in MSN, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Best Life, and ONE37pm. She's a former music editor at BuzzFeed and previously served as an editorial intern with the Daily Dot in 2016.