Do You Think Internationally When Developing A Series?

Sam Register discussing Warner Bros. animation at MIP Jr. 2011

 Via: MIPBlog

Do you think you should?

If not, why not?

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!

Just keep an open mind, that’s all!

PS. Dave Levy wrote a great book on pitching and developing TV shows

PSS. Don’t forget to read Steve Schnier’s informative The Pitch Bible Blog

People I Respect: David B. Levy

This is the fourth in a series of posts in which I explain why I respect certain people in the animation industry and why you should do the same.

 Via: the ASIFA-East aNYmator

A long time ago (OK, not that long ago) I met David B. Levy. I’d never heard of him before, I wasn’t aware of any of his work and I certainly was aware that he was the President of ASIFA-East. Suffice to say, after that evening I was!

David is one the finest ambassadors that the New York animation scene has today and is absolutely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Such praise is not faint. Who in their right mind would give an Irish civil engineer the time of day let alone many opportunities to liaise with people inside the industry?

Being a New Yorker, David is immensely proud to be part of the local animation scene and can often be seen cheer leading for the cause over on his blog, Animondays.

It could be argued that he does this only in his capacity as President, but such an argument would be a very shallow one. David truly believes in the creative skill of the local animation community and will often champion the many success it has had and the numerous contributions it has made to animation in general over the years.

Besides all of this, David is also a bestselling author of three books that have won praise from all over the industry for their well-written and personal approach to working in the industry.

For all of this and much, much more that I am far to tired to write about (it;s 8:25 p.m. here at the moment and I have a midnight Harry Potter screening to go to), David B. Levy is someone I respect.

Hang Out With Indie Animator Bill Plympton and Friends Tomorrow Night

Starting tomorrow night (Friday, May 27th), the Museum of the Moving Image is hosting not one, but two days of Bill Plympton-related screenings.

Friday will see a discussion with Bill and David B. Levy on their new book, Bill Plympton: Independently Animated and will include screenings of some of Bill’s shorts. As a bonus, Bill has promised every audience member a drawing of their very own! He will also be signing his book.

On Saturday (May 28th), there will be screenings of Bill’s feature films, Hair High and Idiots and Angels as well as a preview of the documentary Adventures in Plymptoons.

Below is the press release which contains all the details:

Museum of the Moving Image presents

INDEPENDENTLY ANIMATED: BILL PLYMPTON

May 27 – 28, 2011

Bill Plympton may be the only major animator who still hand-draws every single image of his own films. Though his approach to filmmaking may be old-fashioned, his offbeat and inventive artistic sensibility is unique. This two-day program of screenings and discussions celebrates Plympton’s new book, Independently Animated.

All screenings are free with museum admission unless otherwise noted.

Independently Animated: An Evening with Bill Plympton

Friday, May 27, 7:00 p.m.

Screening, discussion, and book signing with Bill Plympton and David Levy

The lavishly illustrated new book Independently Animated: The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation, by Bill Plympton and David Levy, published by Rizzoli, is part biography, part retrospective, and part behind-the-scenes look at Bill Plympton’s life and career. It contains hundreds of pieces of art from his films, as well as never-before-seen doodles, drawings, and production notes. To celebrate the publication, the Museum presents a festive evening with a discussion, short films, and live drawing by Plympton, followed by a book signing. Everyone in attendance will receive their own original drawing from Plympton.

Among the highlights: a work-in-progress screening of an exciting new short film, Plympton’s hand-colored restoration of Winsor McCay’s 1921 film The Flying House, a charming film about a husband who turns his house into a flying machine, which bears remarkable similarities to the Pixar film Up; a screening of the popular short film Guard Dog and Guard Dog Jam, the result of an invitation to animators around the world to remake Plympton’s film by each contributing their own remake of one shot from the film.

Tickets: $10 public / Free for Museum members. Members may reserve tickets in advance by calling 718 777 6800.

Adventures in Plymptoons

Saturday, May 28, 3:00 p.m.

Preview screening With Alexia Anastasio in person

Dir. Alexia Anastasio. 2011, 98 mins. Digital projection. This new documentary about animator Bill Plympton follows his path from the many rainy days of a Portland childhood spent indoors drawing to a self-made career as an independent animator. The film includes interviews with family, friends, colleagues, critics, and fans.

Hair High

Saturday, May 28, 5:30 p.m.

Introduced by Bill Plympton

Dir. Bill Plympton. 2004, 78 mins. Digital projection. An outrageous gothic myth from the 1950s, Hair High is the legend of Cherri and Spud, a teenage couple who are murdered on prom night and left for dead at the bottom of Echo Lake. Exactly one year later, their skeletal remains come back to life and they return to the prom for revenge and their justly deserved crowns.

Idiots and Angels

May 28, 7:30 p.m.

Introduced by Bill Plympton

Dir. Bill Plympton. 2009, 78 mins. A misanthropic gun dealer who spouts an unwelcome pair of wings is the antihero of Plympton’s noir-flavored feature, which was entirely hand-drawn, mainly in gray pencil. According to the New York Times, the film, which is entirely without dialogue and has music by Tom Waits, Pink Martini, and others, “defies expectations. It is relentless, and brilliant.”

Why Your Bookshelf Was Made To Hold “Directing Animation” By David B. Levy

Bill Plympton's Cover giving Mona ideas.

They say God created the earth in seven days although I have a sneaking feeling that if he hired David Levy, he would have got the job done in five, and still found time to write a book about it.

Theological jokes aside, David really is that hard working. Besides being an animator, he’s also a teacher, President of ASIFA-East and if that wasn’t enough, he’s also managed to find the hours in the day to write three, count ’em, three books over the last couple of years. Suffice to say, he puts those of us who take a full 8 hours of sleep to shame!

Directing Animation the third part of the Holy Trinity installment of animation books written by him, the previous two being Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive and Animation Development: From Pitch to Production. If you haven’t already read those, they are an absolute must, even if, like me, you don’t work in animation on a day-to-day basis.

With those two successful and critically acclaimed books under his belt (and under my bed), David has unleashed his third masterpiece where he zeroes in on a very important position in the animation process.

As a seasoned director on [Adult Swim]’s Assy McGee and numerous shows before that, David is well placed to write this book. Sure there are the technical aspects to the job like laying out a scene, timing shots, etc. but there was definitely a gap on the bookshelf when it came to managing the human element of the process.

Thankfully, that gap has been filled thanks to Directing Animation. Chock full of sage, professional advice from the best in the industry and plenty of tales of both the good and not so good side of the job (but mostly the good side).

With a focus on what it takes to be a director, being dropped in at the deep and and devoting a chapter each to indie films, commercials, TV series, feature films and the internet, Directing Animation covers all the bases you could expect to meet as an animation director and then some!

With such a broad range of topics to cover, one might think the books skims over one or two of them. Not so! The utmost attention has been paid to every aspect of the book and with such a broad range of folks interviewed, there is no doubt that you will be thoroughly prepared to direct once you have finished reading it.

As I was reading the book, I realised that when it comes to animation, there is much more to it than just TV shows and films from the big boys. The prevalence of indie shorts and flash animation on the web has made it so that anyone can become a director, even if you’re only just out of school! Directing Animation is excellent in its coverage of these slightly less well known areas of the animation landscape.

David’s conversational writing style makes the 240 pages fly by with ease and yet everything he has to say is easily absorbed. Add in to the mix his impeccable sense of humour and wit and you have an altogether excellent read from start to finish.

Directing Animation is not a book to be glossed over, even if you don’t think of yourself as a director, you will realise you are taking away much more than you expect. It is thoroughly recommended for anyone even remotely involved in the animation scene.

Directing Animation can be purchased over on Amazon.com.

 

Now You Can Read About The King Of Indie Animation

Via: Bill Plympton on Scribble Junkies

A real quick post to relay the news that Independently Animated, a whole book dedicated to the amazing career of Bill Plympton launches today March 22nd. I’m at work so I can’t post a lot but it was co-authored by my good friend David B. Levy so you know it’s a good read.

You can buy it here or, read this great interview with the man himself over on Cool Hunting.

EDIT: I lept before I looked. Woops! Oh well, it’s as good a time as any to post it 🙂