A Depressing Quoute From Lauren Faust

Lauren's group of self-made dolls that would make a killer TV show, and yes, I own a T-shirt!

Lauren Faust is widely admired for not only her work on the PowerPuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, but also for her work on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and lately, the Superfriends series of shorts for Warner Bros. Well a long long time ago, there was a post on Cartoon Brew (not this one) where Lauren’s husband Craig McCracken was quick to defend her work on MLP because it was the best girl-oriented show going and it was only after facing many defeats pitching her own show to the networks.

At the time, Laruen didn’t really comment on the pitching aspect, but in a recent interview with LA Weekly, we get a bit of an answer as to why she was never able to successfully sell her own show, and not through lack of talents on her part:

On pitching animated shows for girls:

If you talk to the people in charge — the people looking to invest in these things and, unfortunately, the people who usually tell you no — they’ll tell you that girl things just don’t get the numbers. It’s a business and you need to make money. The girl books don’t get the ratings, the girl books don’t get the sales. Unfortunately, a lot of people will tell you that this is because girls aren’t interested in cartoons or girls aren’t interested in comic books.

I don’t think that’s true. I think the reason that might be is because most of the stuff for girls isn’t hitting them in the right place. All too often, “for girls” means “for little girls.” They won’t target an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old. An 8-year-old isn’t going to be interested in something that’s aimed for a 5-year-old. And, when they do gear stuff for 8-year-olds, it’s all about combing your hair and clothes. I don’t think girls are interested in that kind of stuff. I think they’re interested, but I don’t think that they’re interested in stories about it or characters whose lives revolve around it. I just don’t think that enough people have made stuff that was good enough or compelling enough to bring the girls in.

Girls’ stuff doesn’t get the same kind of budget that the boys’ stuff gets. It’s usually lower quality and kids can tell that stuff. Instead of blaming it on the quality, they’ll blame it on the gender. They’ll say the stories are for girls. That’s what’s making it not work, where I feel that it’s the quality and the content that’s making it not work. I’m hoping for people to put a little more faith in girls. Too much stuff for girls is about tea parties and holding hands and skipping down the lane.

Someone please give this woman a TV show!

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