For years I asked myself why Australia hasn’t had its own animated series for adults.
Now I know that it’s my own fault!
Last year I went to a launch event put on by our state film funding body and SBS, Australia’s multicultural government TV network.
At the drinks part afterwards I asked a lady from SBS if they were interested in commissioning adult animation. She replied, laughingly, “How cheap can you make it?”
So, since I don’t need their money to make the cartoons, I figured I should just make them myself.
I’m currently making them — in the form of an animated series called BE A MAN — using money I earn elsewhere.
People have asked me, “How will you make money doing this?” The answer is, “I won’t”.
I suppose the goals are to make something good and to make a reputation for doing so, each of which is valuable.
Waiting around for TV executives to pass judgement on my ideas isn’t furthering those goals. Better I just make the things, enjoy the making and stop to earn money when it’s possible.
I went to the SPAA Fringe conference last year. It’s reasonably priced and a good way to get access to some interesting people and hear things first-hand.
I attended a roundtable discussion with a ABC-TV development fellow who asserted that the best way to approach the ABC with your comedy idea is to NOT approach the ABC with it.
Instead, it should be taken to one of their “preapproved” production companies, ones they repeatedly work with (Andrew Denton’s, for example) so that they can decide if it’s ABC-worthy.
We at the table were a bunch of mostly neophyte dopes with TV show ideas. The impression I got was that he was sincerely trying to give us the good oil.
I’m not sure every ABC executive would give the same advice. The most interesting thing I learned from speaking to several of them was that none of them seem to agree on anything.
“At least it’s not sitting gathering dust on the shelf, right?”
I listened to this podcast of a talk from the SPAA Conference (not the one I attended, the “big boys” one) which asks the question, “Will one of the people on this panel, who represent alternatives to network television, actually put their money where their mouths have been for quite some time now and commission some bloody content?”
The moderator did an excellent job trying to squeeze an answer out of them. Their answer was muffled but sounded a lot like, “noooooo, probably not right now”. They’re currently doing fine paying pennies (or nothing) for your video once it’s been made.
“At least it’s not sitting gathering dust on the shelf, right?” said the nice lady whose salary is paid by people giving YouTube their work for free.
“The right people”
Sometimes we complain that we aren’t successful because we aren’t friends with “the right people”, the implication being that “the right people” are TV executives or celebrities whose access to money or power could smooth the way for us.
What’s great is that if you’re more concerned with making a good show than with having a show on television, you almost certainly know “the right people” already. Your smartest, funniest and most eagle-eyed friends are capable of helping you make your show, or of making your show better. You only have to ask them for help.
Once you have “the right people” involved, it’s just a matter of renting a camera and some lights. Or sitting in a little room and drawing lots of things.
Making stuff will save you
Working in animation, I sometimes find myself part of a large crew working to make a children’s show worth millions of dollars, and in the middle of that I sometimes forget it’s possible to make something better on no budget at all.
But you can! People do.
I’d say the following is as true for you as it is for me. It’s important, so I’m writing it in pink:
You have ideas and energy that the people in charge don’t want and wouldn’t know what to do with. Use them yourself.
The reason Australia hasn’t had its own adult cartoon series
It’s because nobody in the TV industry wants one as much as I do, and I haven’t worked hard enough at it!
I apologise, and I’m fixing that now. Slowly.
David Blumenstein writes and draws, often simultaneously. He makes pictures and animation for money. He’s not saying anything you didn’t already know. You can learn more about his animated series via his Twitter feed and his Facebook page. Or go watch him making it at Squishface Studio.