In 2018, Netflix announced that they were to develop Chilean animation director Fernanda Frick's Raise the Bar! as an animated series. Fernanda Frick worked on the Oscar-winning animated short from Chile, Bear Story, before writing and directing her own short film, Here's the Plan for Cartoon Brew's CB Fest shorts program.
The slice-of-life/sports series, written by Frick and fellow animator Glenn Lazo, was to follow Sam, a female high school student who works toward her dream of becoming a world champion weightlifter, against the odds, without supportive coaches of family. Aimed at kids ages 9 to 14, Raise the Bar! won the TV competition in 2017 at the Ventana Sur film market in Argentina and was picked by Netflix exec Aram Yacoubian at the Pixelatl Festival in Mexico.
However, earlier this year, Netflix dropped its development. Frick posted the news "This is not the best of times to have sad news, but I'd like to announce that Raise the Bar is not moving forward as a series anymore. This was always a possibility (as I tried to explain to the press) since the development process is never a guarantee that the project will get made. But it was a great experience; nonetheless, I met amazing people, learned a lot and some of my dreams came true! Most importantly, I had an amazing team with which we made work that I'm still very proud of. I spent the last two years thinking about Raise the Bar 24/7, and I can say I gave it my all and did my best. Now, it's time to move forward into new projects, and I'm open to new opportunities."
But now it has been announced that Nancy Mercado at publishing house Dial has acquired, at auction, Raise The Bar! as a middle-grade graphic novel. In which Sam dreams of becoming Chile's first Olympic gold medalist in weightlifting and leaves home to train at an international athletic center, but must contend with her family's misgivings. It's not Fernanda Frick's first time at this; in 2019, she published Trazos, her first graphic novel with Editorial Planeta.
Raise the Bar! will now be planned for spring 2023. Their agent, Johanna Castillo at Writers House, negotiated the deal for North American English and Spanish language rights.