President’s Column: July 2015
MORE words to inspire and motivate you!
Last month I shared some inspirational passages from a book I’m reading titled Animation Development: From Pitch to Production by David B. Levy (available at Amazon.com). The book is wonderful resource for creating, developing, pitching, and producing an animated series. However, I think many of the observations and advice in the book can apply to other forms of visual storytelling like comics, graphic novels, children’s books, etc. This will be part two of a three part series highlighting some of my favorite passages from David Levy’s book. Here we go!
As I mentioned in last month’s article, the fist step in pitching your idea to a network is to submit a summary in the form of a two sheet. David describes the purpose of the two sheet as being a “useful first salvo in the pitching process, demonstrating the potential of a creator’s voice and vision and helps to test the collaborative waters between network and creator.” And remember, the goal is not just to make a good impression with the executive who sees your idea first. You need to “have enough strong material to help shepherd [your] projects up the development ladder.” Think of the development executive as your partner in a bigger journey to get your idea noticed by the higher ups in the network who have more influential decision making powers. David quotes Cartoon Network’s Chowder creator Carl H. Greenblatt who says ” [Development executives] have to sell show ideas to their bosses to justify their jobs. The best ideas are the ones that they can pitch easily. Give them the tools to do that. Make their jobs easy for them.”
Another informative chapter in the book deals with legal issues. If your pitch went well and you made a good impression with the development executives, the network may offer to option your idea for further development. David describes the option as “a sincere desire by the network executives to further explore your idea at their own cost or risk.” But wait… before you sign off on any deal, get a lawyer! A good entertainment lawyer will negotiate on your behalf to get you the best deal possible. But how are the terms of the deal determined? What factors go into a network’s decision to take a risk and sign a deal with a creator? The key word is leverage. Here’s a quote David takes from Robert D. Marcus, Esq. “More often than not, the negotiation of a deal comes down to a single word: leverage. How badly does the party you’re negotiating with want or need what you have to offer versus how willing are you to walk away from the negotiation if that party is not willing to meet your terms?” For creators who are just starting out with little or no track record in the industry, it might be a good idea not to walk away from a deal even if the terms are much less than you expected. Rob Marcus says “you’ve got to get your foot in the door and into the creative stream, which will hopefully increase your leverage for the next deal.”
The creative stream… I like that! Take the plunge into the stream and see where it takes you. The waters might be choppy at times and you might get banged up against the rocks. But keep at it and learn from every new experience that comes along. What ever happens, your sure to be in for the ride of your life! Just don’t forget to wear your life jacket and bring a paddle.
Next month I’ll wrap up my series with more quotes from David Levy’s book chosen to inspire and motivate you!