O Animag’s 13th Annual Pitch Party Results Are In!
ne of the many amazing things about animation is the way in which it sparks the imagination. Once you turn on the faucet of ideas, it’s almost impossible to stop the flow and even harder to contain your excitement when you hit on an idea you really like.
But turning those great ideas into shows is a difficult and often mysterious process, requiring constant honing of the pitch and the opportunity to put it front of the eyes of the people who have the power to make an idea for a show into reality.
That’s why we at Animation Magazine are proud to offer the 13th annual edition of our unique Pitch Party. The contest is an extremely targeted ad campaign designed to help indie and up-and-coming artists present their ideas to a panel of industry professionals — as well as all the magazine’s readers. As a bonus, this issue is being widely distributed at Comic-Con International: San Diego, giving our contestants a potentially huge audience for their pitches.
We are very happy to announce that this year’s Top Prize winner is Shelby Christie for her pitch Fuse. As the winner, Shelby will get to pitch Fuse directly to the judge of her choice and receive a free digital subscription to Animation Magazine.
And while the Pitch Party may have wrapped for 2014, it’s never too late to start honing your ideas for next year’s edition. Who knows? Maybe your show will be transformed from an idea to reality.
Our judges’ third-place pick is the actioncomedy Jolly Space Raider from Klas Jonsson, who runs a small company called Protoon.
Jonsson is originally from Sweden and has been working for more than 20 years as a visual-effects artist, postproduction supervisor, visual-effects supervisor and animator, mostly for television projects both in the United States and in Europe.
“Jolly Space Raider is a labor of love,” says Jonsson. “It started as a hobby and grew from there.”
The pitch centers around a teenage space pirate named Jolly. Set in a future where space travel is common, the story is set in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. When large ships run into trouble, the raiders are there to scavenge the wreckage.
“Jolly is one of them, and she’s a small girl and very full of herself, and she’s usually taking on people who are twice her size,” says Jonsson. The tone is less hard science fiction and more of an action-comedy series.
The Jonsson says he’s developed the pitch to be scalable to everything from a web series to a feature film and he’s working mostly by himself on making a three- to five-minute episode as a pilot.
He does all of this between paying gigs and flying frequently back and forth from Los Angeles to Sweden — a long commute, he admits, but worth it.
“I don’t mind,” he says. “I work with stuff I absolutely love.”
The switch from employee to entrepreneur is more about changing your mindset than your employment status. You must commit to becoming the butcher, baker and candlestick maker all in one.
Lisa Goldman: What are your some of your funniest — or toughest — moments being a writer in animation? As a story editor? In a writer’s room? Susan Kim: A tough (and universal) writer’s moment: When you’re new on a show, you bust your hump trying to write something fantastic, and the story editor goes through your script and says: “This is hilarious! But not quite our show. And I loved this! But too similar to something we already did. And this made me laugh out loud! But not something that character would say.” Afterward, you’re left with like two shredded pages and told, “keep up the great work.” Although come to think of it, I’ve probably done the same thing as a story editor … hmm. Goldman: How about the perks and challenges of being a writer working from home? Kim: Major perk: Being able to wear the same T-shirt and stretched-out yoga pants for three days in a row if you want. Like your cat gives a shit? Theoretically, you could wallow in your own filth for three weeks if you wanted, although of course I am trés chic and always beautifully groomed. (And the fact that you don’t even know which statement is true gets back to my answer: You can do whatever you want! Who’s going to know?) Mostly, I find that there’s no comparison to the depth of focus you have when you’re at home … assuming, of course, you don’t have small children, an obsession with housecleaning or a noisy partner. I love being with people, but I find them way too distracting. In college, my friends stopped inviting me to the library because I’d always be bored out of my skull, talking nonstop and getting evicted by the librarian. Goldman: As a story editor, do you think about gender at all when you’re hiring writers and trying to get the right mix for a show? Kim: I do. It’s not just gender, although, of course, that’s important. In an ideal world, I’d love a blend of sexes, experience, race, straight and gay, younger and older. Look at late-night comedy: It’s hamstrung by the fact that 99 percent of their writing staffs are straight white guys fresh out of Yale. Not that I have anything against straight white guys from Yale, but you lose nuance when everyone’s the same. And, I’m sorry, there’s still a huge false perception out there that women aren’t funny, and that just blows. Goldman: Why do you think there aren’t more women writing in animation? Has it ever felt like any kind of “boys club” has impacted your career, or is that old news? Kim: To be honest, I feel lucky in that much of my work has been for preschool, which is — I freely admit — a girl ghetto. Okay, it’s not exactly swarming with women, but most shows have at least a few female writers. It certainly doesn’t have the boys club feel as other places I’ve worked, e.g. middle grade, adventure or Cartoon Network stuff. Goldman: Any advice for aspiring animation writers? Kim: Keep it visual. If your script reads like live action, something’s wrong. Be nice and professional – it’s a business of contacts, after all. And if no one’s hiring you, screw them. Find an animator, produce your own stuff and put it online. Baboon Animation is a U.S.-based collective of Oscar-nominated, multiple-Emmy-winning animation writers with credits on dozens of the most iconic animated shows of the last two decades. Lisa Goldman heads up the Women In Animation in New York. She also writes and creates content for all media platforms and teaches a course called Pitch Bible Studies Class. Learn more at http://animateddevelopment.blogspot.com/