Ask A Ba­boon Putting More Spring in Your Spring­board – Part 2

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Aaaand we’re back! Last time, we spoke with two of Ba­boon An­i­ma­tion’s finest – Joe Vi­tale ( An­gry Birds, Felix the Cat) and John Fountain ( The Fairly Od­dPar­ents, My Life As A Teenage Robot) — about craft­ing a spring­board that’ll really catch a pro­ducer’s at­ten­tion.

To re­it­er­ate: a spring­board is like the hum­ble acorn of an idea that grows into the mighty oak tree of your script (or the tiny seed that sprouts a pu­trid corpse flower … y’know, de­pend­ing). At a measly three to five sen­tences, a spring­board has to be orig­i­nal, en­ter­tain­ing and com­pelling enough to keep folks in­ter­ested.

This month, we give you some ad­vice from Ba­boon’s own vet­eran Jymn Magon ( A Goofy Movie, Pac-Man) gry Birds Toons) on how to achieve just that. Read and ab­sorb, brave sponge! Javier Valdez: Start think­ing about things that in­ter­est you, ex­cite you, so you have an emo­tional in­vest­ment. I’m in­ter­ested in di­nosaurs, so I like to try to cook up di­nosaur sto­ries. It’s a big­ger in­vest­ment than if I’m look­ing around the room, spot a lamp, and try to pitch a story about that.

At the spring­board stage, it helps me to come up with fas­ci­nat­ing sce­nar­ios (like “hooks” in­volv­ing di­nosaurs), and later on come up with the emo­tional stakes. Start with: The town is flooded with maple syrup. Then add: Jimmy’s fight with his dad is in­ter­rupted by the town flood­ing with maple syrup, Jimmy has to over­come his pride and ask his dad for help. Jymn Magon: I ask my­self: “WWLD - What Would Lucy Do?” It’s not so hard com­ing up with mun­dane plot lines. (e.g. “Straw­berry Short­cake de­cides to bake some bread for her berry best friends.”) But what’s the big sell­ing point? What puts it over the top? Well, just think: What would Lucy in I Love Lucy do in this sit­u­a­tion? She’d put too much yeast in the bat­ter and wind up with a 5-foot loaf of rye! Magon: Look for some quirky, catchy tid­bit to add. I’m told a story was sold to NBC’s Smurfs show based on an en­chanted sewing nee­dle that trav­eled through the air sewing ev­ery­thing in its path. What put it over the top? The nee­dle’s rep­e­ti­tious catch­phrase: “Nee­dle-nee­dle-nee­dle.” You never know what’s go­ing to tickle some exec’s fancy. Valdez: This is the stage where I fig­ure I can really try any­thing and just play, see if it res­onates with one of your char­ac­ters — sticks to them emo­tion­ally and lets the au­di­ence in­vest. Don’t be afraid to come up with weird and wild ideas — this is your best shot to pitch things with low risk. Worst that hap­pens is you lose a spring­board’s worth of work. There’s no ad­van­tage to play­ing it safe. Magon: Yes. Pick a cast mem­ber with a

and ris­ing star Javier Valdez ( An-

— Claire Stenger flaw. For ex­am­ple: Brave stunt mas­ter Torque loves speed, but he’s dread­fully afraid of heights. So what lo­cale do we choose for this episode? A high-rise win­dow-washer plat­form! Poor Torque tries des­per­ately to get out of the gig. With­out let­ting his pub­lic find out he’s a chicken. Hi­lar­ity en­sues.

You can also look to the past. Don’t be afraid to dredge up old plots. TV Guide is filled with log lines go­ing back sev­eral decades. Just be­cause “Boy meet girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl” has been done a zil­lion times doesn’t mean it can’t be done again. The very unique na­ture of your show and its char­ac­ters is what will give this old trope a new slant, new emo­tional stakes and a new set­ting. Ev­ery­thing old is new again. Valdez: Never pitch “filler” to make it look like you pitched a ton of spring­boards. It seems like the one story that you think is just sort of OK, the one you wrote to bring your spring­board count up to a nice round num­ber, will al­ways be the one picked. And you’ll be stuck with it. All the way through fi­nal, pol­ished script. Never pitch any­thing to any­body un­less you would be ec­static if it were picked. Same goes for any­thing in the cre­ative in­dus­try. Be your own ed­i­tor. Thanks for the tips, guys! Read­ers, see you next month, and happy writ­ing! [

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