Thursday, June 10, 2010

Web series? TV? How do I get this story out there? (a history)

Thanks again for everyone who watched "Kanook" and gave comments. If you haven't seen it, seen the previous post.

I wanted to get out some of my thoughts, ideas, plottings ... so you can tell me if I'm crazy or not ... (warning: long!)

So, I have this story, Kanook, that I've been writing for a long time. I really want to make it into a series. My first thought was to make it into a web series. When I made the Kanook animatic over a year ago, I fully intended to replace the animatic shots with fully rendered animation, like you see in the beginning. The animatic took about a week to make, but fully rendering shots took SO long. I had to do research, paint the backgrounds, rough out the animation, put in the key animation, breakdowns, in-betweens, and then color ... It was taking me about three days per shot. And there are 100+ shots in the 9 minute episode. A year an episode? That won't do ...

So, next I thought about pitching the series for TV. When I went to the Ottawa International Animation Festival in October, I prepared a pitch of the Kanook story. At OAIF they have a pitching session thing called 'FastTrack.' I got to pitch my idea to like 10 different companies, including Disney channel and Fox and Cartoon Network. I learned a LOT about TV animation by going to the OAIF and the TAC (Television Animation Conference, part of OAIF).

My general impression was that networks were looking for shows that were mostly comedies, and cheap to produce ($250-$300,000 per episode)... which mostly means using the 'cutout' or 'puppet' animation style. (There are a lot of great shows that use that style, but personally, I love doing traditional animation and that's what I want 'Kanook' to be in.) I asked someone about the show 'Avatar,' which has really nice animation ... and she told me that Avatar was an 'anomaly.' It's very expensive to produce (most of it being animated in Korea) and was originally pitched by two guys already trusted in the industry, having directed Simpsons and Family Guy episodes. Also, sequential, dramatic storytelling seems to be on the decline overall; there's been talk that shows like 'Lost' and 'FlashForward' will not be greenlit again soon. For animation, series that have long over-arching stories almost never get produced in America.

Moving on! So, I put Kanook on the back burner for a while ... I focused instead on applying for jobs in Animation. I went over to Disney in April and got a lot of great feedback on my portfolio. I'm also planning to apply to Pixar, Dreamworks and BlueSky (as soon as I finish my freakin' cover letter!! Why are they so hard?).

Recently, I started to think that maybe I could go back to the web series idea. I remembered that the Kanook animatic, even though it only took a week to do, was understandable and had emotional impact. I really want to practice cinematic storytelling. And I want get the Kanook story out there. So, I was thinking that I could make a web series in the animatic style.

One concern with that idea is that episodes won't be visually exciting enough to watch for 10 minutes. I want to add more actual animating. I want to make episodes in the animatic style, but with about 10% more animation, 10% more visual energy. (I am very concerned, however, that I won't be able to work quickly and make an animatic-styled animation if I think it's going to be the final product. I'm obsessively judgemental of my work ... I need to work on that.)

I'd also like to add music, sound effects and voices eventually ... which I'll need help on. A few people have already offered their help in various arenas, so I feel hopeful about that. Also, if I can find a way to make the actual animation part more collaborative, that would be great to.

So, that's my idea. I guess the next step is to start production on the next episode. (Which will actually be the first episode, because I've completely rewritten episode 1.) What do you think my plan? Comments? Questions? Concerns?

A side note: I was also wondering if, in addition, I should be working on a short film, something short and polished, that I can show at film festivals. Win awards. Get recognition. I started writing and boarding a story I could do ... but I'm not sure if it's what I want to be doing. In general, I feel torn between my desire to work on writing, storytelling, crafting better and better stories and creating polished artwork, with the painted backgrounds, the animation, the coloring...etc. TORN, I say.

Yet another side note: My computer is getting old. I need new software and hardware. Basically, I need a Macbook Pro, a Wacom Cintiq (21ux) tablet display, Adobe CS5 Master Collection, and Painter, for a grand total of $7100. eep! I'm saving my pennies. Commissions anyone?

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