Spotted over on Reddit this morning, I thought it was a pretty blasé kind of thing that you find on the internet until I actually tried to think of the three characters that would describe my personality. All I can say is that it wasn’t quite as easy as I had anticipated, but nonetheless, the results are accurate.
It was announced yesterday that Mattel, the all-conquering toy manufacturer licensing company has acquired what’s left of HIT Entertainment, the intellectual property holder for many established children’s characters and shows such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Bob the Builder anf Fireman Sam.
It’s kinda funny how, as an adult, all these characters you loved as a kid suddenly become “properties” rather than actual characters. They can be bought, sold or licensed to anyone and everyone who’s willing to pay. They have to make profits and should the company go bust, they can be scooped up in the resulting fire sale.
In some ways it’s disheartening but in reality its not a surprise. Pretty much any show you see on TV these days is either owned by a large company or whose rights are held by one. As much a we’d like to believe that Thomas is really just a story invented for grandchildren, that is all in the past.
It will be interesting to see how well this deal plays out in the coming years though and whether or not the synergy to be gained from having your properties in-house will pay off for Mattel.
Going on right now, MIPCOM is pretty much the convention/expo/gathering when it comes to selling shows to international buyers. Thousands come from all over the world to Cannes to see, hear, meet and schmooze about TV programmes. It’s also preceded each year by MIPJr. a similar event for kids shows that is ostensibly the same format as it’s big brother.
MIPCOM is an important part of the global TV ecosystem because it allows content producers to sell that content to others. It’s much cheaper (and easier) to simply sell the rights to a local player and have them handle re-dubbing, marketing, scheduling, etc. Essentially what you get is money for your show with relatively little effort.
So should you develop your show with this event in mind?
Or rather, should you have an international mindset when developing a TV show or film?
The answer is you probably should, not to the extent that you design your entire show around the international market, but you should be aware that certain things don’t play too well in the foreign markets, such as:
Westerns – The only place with a wild west is America, most other countries have nothing comparable so they aren’t nearly as interested
Military – DreamWorks discovered that as half-decent a film as Monsters Vs. Aliens is, it did relatively poorly internationally because of the heavy military theme didn’t resonate as loudly with foreigners as it did with Americans.
You get the picture
The important point is that if a show skews too heavily towards American culture, it might be a difficult sell abroad, resulting in the network being more reluctant to buy it given that international sales are normally necessary to make money.
Of course the opposite is true too. You shouldn’t base you’re entire show around what the international market wants but you should at least be aware that your show will likely be sold abroad at some point and adjust your development accordingly.
The most popular TV shows out there are so for a reason, and that is that they have universal appeal regardless of the culture you live in. The simple reason this is so is because they make culture irrelevant. Think of SpongeBob, where you live has nothing to do with the show, Bikini Bottom could be anywhere in the world!
Making a personal film is no easy task. It just isn’t, for a whole host of reasons. It’s a complicated, arduous process that may or may not end up the way you expected it to. Lots of people never finish there’s, but are these the reasons why you’re not starting yours?
1. I don’t have the time
Ah, do you really not have the time, or do you think you don’t have the time. There is a big difference between the two you know. Unless you work 12 hour days or 7 days a week, you really aren’t in a position to say you don’t have enough time. Besides, it’s not about the amount of time you have but how effectively you use the time you’ve got.
When it comes to these kinds of things, the quickest and best solution is to set aside time on a regular basis, say a Sunday morning or an hour every night after dinner. Perhaps more important than setting the schedule is actually sticking to it. You might find it tough, but over time, regular actions, even small ones, can have big results.
2. I don’t have an idea.
Well, go and find one! There are plenty of ideas that could be put on film. Remember, this is a personal project, so essentially, it’s all about you! And the best part about a personal film is that you’re completely unrestricted. The only person telling you what to do is yourself! However, a note of caution, once you have decided on a subject, plan out how you intend to move forward, don’t get stuck in your own version of “development hell”.
3. I don’t have the money
For years, this was the sticky point. Making a short film does cost money. However, the amount that it’ll cost is totally dependent on how much you’re willing to put into it. You could make a film for a million dollars if you wanted to but budgets ain’t the whole story. At the end of the day, be realistic. Do set a budget, and stick to it, that’s just basic common sense.
If cash flow is a problem, the best solution is to trim expenses and/or set aside some funds on a regular basis. You’d be quite surprised just how quickly even $20 a week will add up.
Also remember that while the cost of technology has dropped significantly, you don’t necessarily need the latest Cintiq tablet or Flash software. There are plenty of free alternatives that may not be as feature-laden but will accomplish a lot of the same tasks.
4. I don’t know what to do with it when I’m finished
I’m not too sure about yourself, but films are generally meant to be seen, by lots of people! Throw it up on YouTube! That blog you started to track the production (because you figured it would be a smart idea)? Throw it up on that! Show it to some friends! Have them show it to their friends! Put it in your portfolio! Show it to your boss! Take it to one of ASIFA’s open screening nights!
The possibilities are endless when it comes to a personal film. Some people are happy just to let as many people watch it as possible, others like to get awards from festivals, some folks like to make money from their short films. Although be aware that charging for a personal short may preclude you gaining a reputation first.
5. I don’t see the point
A personal film is essentially a proof of sorts. It says to the world that you can be uniquely creative. It says to potential employers that you have a logical enough mind that you can conceive and create a project using just your own initiative (employers like to see that). It also gives you plenty of unique experiences that you’re unlikely to have anywhere else.
To conclude, there’s very little holding you back from undertaking a personal film. The challenges can appear to be insurmountable but only if you let them be. Figure out a game plan and before you know it, you’ll be making one.
I was reminded that anyone who says women and girls aren’t into comic is lying through their teeth.
The bootleg DVD industry has to be feeling the pain of illegal downloading too. I mean, $50 for the entire series of Billy and Mandy or Kim Possible must have been a bargain at some point, but now that’s just crazy expensive.
The only way it could have been even more enjoyable was if I actually read comics on a regular basis.
Oh, and I saw Stan Lee through a gap in the curtains.
Apologies for the profoundly boring title. Knock off the ‘animation’ at the front and you pretty much have the class I’m taking right now. It’s basically about operation decision-making within a company and how to manage the supply chain of a business (don’t get too excited, it’s an entry level course).
It got me thinking though, when it comes to animation, the supply chain is somewhat flexible yet inflexible at the same time. It’s flexible in that if you have a bunch of great artists who can crack on with the job and churn out exactly what you’re looking for, then you might be able to squeeze things a wee bit and wrap up early. If you run into delays, that sends a shockwave down the rest of the production pipeline.
Right now, we’re looking at shoes and how they are ordered months in advance of the season for which they are intended. Not too different from animation, eh? The interesting thing about the three cases we’re looking at (Crocs, ECCO and New Balance) is that all three take quite a different approach to their manufacturing and supply chain (outsourced but flexible, vertically integrated and some outsourcing but some manufacturing in the US).
Perhaps surprisingly, animation, really has developed supply chain-wise since the hayday of Hollywood. Things have changed dramatically since then, what with the off-shoring of the actual animation in the 70s and all, but we have gradually seen a return to the rather flexible nature of doing everything in-house.
The introduction of Flash certainly helped as it made animating in the US cost-comparable. Secondly, the internet has meant that the cost benefits of off-shoring or outsourcing can be had without sacrificing the immediacy of working in a studio. Daily production can be supervised closely from the other side of the planet without much effort.
My point is that while the animation industry has not seen the kind of seismic changes (such as off-shoring) in quite a few years, there have nonetheless been advances in how animated films and TV shows are created. Increased efficiencies in this area have only lead to better quality content and lowered (relative) production costs. Just something to keep in mind.
It’s something I want you to dwell on for right now (I’ll do a full post in a wee bit), but does the fact that there are three networks broadcasting children’s TV shows 24/7 (for the most part) form a contributing factor when it comes to childhood obesity?
I’m not talking about the content or the advertising (although that has long earned the wrath of concerned citizens) I’m talking solely about the fact that children nowadays have unmetered access to content aimed at them.
What are your thoughts? Would limiting the hours of operation of children’s channels make a difference?
Below is an excerpt from a piece posted over on Techdirt by Lloyd Kaufman on the subject of copyright, the public domain and the Founding Fathers. It’s a great post in its own right, but when it gets really interesting (for us) is when he starts talking about animation and how one company in particular seems to have been the driving force behind the various copyright extensions over the years.
It also serves as a nice preamble to an upcoming series of posts here on The Animation Anomaly dealing with the various legal dealings that animators should be aware of.
HOW MICKEY MOUSE BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF THOMAS JEFFERSON
In 1928, Mickey Mouse appeared in the first sound-synchronized cartoon, Steamboat Willie , which was a parody (in Disnenglish, a copyright infringement) of a Buster Keaton film, “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” Mickey Mouse became an instant star and Walt Disney’s meal ticket. By 1956, when “Steamboat Willie” was all set to enter the public domain, Disney had become a powerhouse corporation, and it interceded on little Mickey’s behalf:
Disney Executive: You see, Senator, if “Steamboat Willie” were to belong to the public, they would pretty much own Mickey Mouse, too. And we can’t let that happen.
Senator: No, no. We must protect Mickey.
Disney Executive: What we need, Senator, is an extension of the copyright law. That way, we can keep Mickey safe.
Senator: Yes, yes. We must protect Mickey.
Disney Executive: Yes, Senator, we must protect Mickey.
The Disney executive puts away his hypnotist materials, leaves a pile of cash on the table, and leaves. The hypnotized senator wakes up with the overwhelming urge to protect Mickey Mouse. Days later, copyright law is extended.
Buster Keaton, however, continues to receive food stamps.
This scene is repeated in 1984 and 2003. “Steamboat Willie” will remain the intellectual property of Disney until 2023, almost 100 years after it was created and many, many years after the last person who worked on it became snail food. And at some point before 2023, I’m guessing the copyright laws will be extended once again.
An interesting little twist to this whole story, which was sent to me by email@example.com, is that someone at Disney discovered in the 1990s that “Steamboat Willie” may actually be in the public domain already. This was due to a mistake in the wording of the original copyright. A law student at Arizona State University investigated this claim and agreed [article link for the curious]. Then another law student at Georgetown wrote another paper confirming the claim. At this point, Disney threatened to sue the student and the claim hasn’t been uttered since.