How is the world of writing animation different to writing live action? For starters, animation is more influenced by the look and feel of the movie. Often, the screenplay is rewritten by a committee of writers, artists, animators and editors. Everybody influences the story on a daily basis in line with the technical restrictions of the movie.
THE WORLD OF ANIMATION
The beauty of the animation market is that it’s so much smaller than the live action market, so if a project is green-lighted, it will probably get made. The majority of work for writers currently is in animation TV rather than feature film, the latter being dominated by a handful of studios.
Oftentimes, animated TV series run for 26 or 52 episodes so your creativity can really soar. It costs just as much to animate a scene on the moon as it does a scene in a house. Not so in live action. Also, animation scripts tend to run faster than live action scripts at around 40-50 seconds per page as opposed to 60 seconds. You can download sample animation scripts at www.jeffreyscott.tv.
Since animation is a virtual medium, they are more action rather than dialog driven. Writers must therefore think in pictures, much like comic strips and storyboards.
QUALITIES REQUIRED TO WRITE ANIMATION
- Creating unique worlds and settings
- Playfulness and imagination
- Humility and humbleness
PITCHING AN ORIGINAL TV SERIES
- What is the overall concept of the show?
- Who is the target audience?
- Who are the main (recurring) characters?
- Are there any occasional guest characters?
- What is the world/ scope of the show?
- What is the style/mood of the show?
- Pitch additional story ideas to demonstrate that the concept is viable.
- Write one spec script; not the pilot episode, but a a typical episode.
- Get imdb credits.
WHY SOME PITCHES ON EXISTING SHOWS FAIL
- The concepts don’t fit the world of the show or the producers’ tastes.
- The animators don’t have the technical capabilities in terms of existing sets, designs, characters and time frames.
- The concepts don’t conform to the rules of the series.
- The ideas are too similar to old episodes.
- The ideas are bad.
FINDING WRITING WORK
- It is easier to find work on an existing TV show rather than pitching a new TV show.
- Build your portfolio of writing samples; an original spec script and one of an existing show; preferably similar to your the show you want to write in.
- Get your name in front of industry players.
- Contact them through mutual contacts or directly through their production companies.
- Pester them. Be persistent.
- Attend industry events (conferences) and network.
- Inform the industry of your accolades; commissions, awards, produced credits.
- Add value to their lives.
HOW TO MAKE PRODUCERS HIRE YOU
- Attend courses, mixers and other industry events.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses. You can’t be all things to all people.
- Be local to them and find out their likes and dislikes.
- Visit www.awn.com and www.aidb.com
- Approach them directly and take them out for coffee to discuss the state of the industry.
- Give producers what they want.
- Don’t be a snob and reject seemingly minor jobs. Small jobs lead to bigger jobs.
So go forth and prosper.
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