Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Week in Writing #250 | Report from the Front Ground Zero Animation Expo

This past week was a bit of everything with a little work done on most of the projects. The one thing I didn't make any progress on was my review of Sabrina, but that was not mission critical as Trophy Unlocked currently has a plethora of reviews ready to go. This week's Saturday Morning Review was Trevor's review of Trover Saves the Universe, a VR game for the PS4 developed by Justin Roiland, the man and voice behind Rick and Morty. We'll get to Sabrina in due time. I hope to wrap it up this week, time permitting.

More work was done on the rewrite of The Runaway, though never as much as I'd like. Sort of taking things a little slow this week, trying to get back into the swing. No new queries, and no progress on the synopsis of Broken People. And to complete the triumvirate of disappointment, no word from the editor on Familiar Stranger. Just like last week.

Though it wasn't my intention, the bulk of the week was spent on Powers Squared. Rachel delivered not only more tiffs, but the thumbnails for the last four pages of Issue #11, as well as ideas for the cover. She is usually very prompt at the beginning of the month with the thumbnails and I should have been expecting them from her.

I also spent some time, in prep for the Ground Zero Animation Expo, working on a Pitch Packet for Powers Squared. We think it would make a good animated series and one of the reasons for attending the Expo was to attend the panel Developing and Pitching. Having attended, I had to rethink much of what I had already done, which is a good thing.

The panel was moderated by Daniela Rodriguez and Marc Monroy, neither of whom I had heard of prior. Actually, until the panel started, I had no idea who would be running it. As it turns out, in keeping with the looseness of the Expo, there was no prepared presentation with both wanting to rely on Q&A. For those who know me, you'll be surprised, but I was particularly verbal at this panel, something I'm not usually at these sorts of things.

While Daniela and Marc were free with advice, it should be noted that neither had successfully pitched a show. Marc is an illustrator for hire and has worked on other people's pitches and Daniela had pitched a show at Nickelodeon where she works, though it didn't sound like it was picked up. Not that their advice was not good, it was not the sort of expertise one would expect, at say, Comic-Con.

I was able to ask about what should be in a Pitch Packet, or Pitch Deck as they called it. According to them, a packet should be no more than 6 to 7 pages front and back. There should be a synopsis of the story, some description of the main characters, focus on the physical world of the series, referred to as the physics. And there should, of course, be the artwork. Listening to this, I realized I needed to completely revamp what I had done, which I began to do later that night when we got back from the Expo.

They were also quick to point out that there are a series of green lights. Having a pitch greenlit does not mean it will ever get on the air. Usually, a studio will have to sell it to a network or streaming service so they, too, have to greenlight the series. And there is, of course, development, which can take months or even years and still end with no series. No guarantees in life or in pitching. Try not to feel discouraged.

One of the things Marc mentioned, and he did do most of the talking during the panel, was that some animation studios are making comics out of their stories to get attention for their IP. He even said if you have a comic book, you're about 90 percent there for a pitch. Having a comic book, that was something I took great interest in and pursued with him afterward on the floor of the Expo at his table.

Of course, with any Pitch panel I've been to, they are long on advice on what to have in your deck, but short on how to get it in front of someone at a studio or network. The advice is usually to look at the website of where you want to pitch, which led to a little misinformation. In our one-on-one talk, Marc suggested we contact Netflix, who is trying to ramp up their animation and is looking for new IPs to exploit. He suggested we follow the steps on their website and submit the comic book through that. However, in looking at the Netflix website, they are not open to unsolicited submissions and only work with literary agents. So, there is an extra-extra step involved.

They also recommended copyrighting your pitch, which is not a bad idea, however, they can take 6 to 8 months. In my experience with actually pitching a series, I registered it with the Writers Guild of America, which seemed to be sufficient, cheaper and quicker.

Overall, I had a good time at the GZAE and would recommend it to anyone interested in getting into animation. The floor is very manageable and everyone seems interested in engaging you. There were a few vendors in the mix as well, though surprisingly there was only one directly selling something that could be used to actually animate.

As I wrote, I started to rework our pitch deck, but I think I need to put that aside to concentrate on our Kickstarter and adding more names to our mailing list. Oh, the fun never stops.

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