Precinct planning resumes

I went to COMICS CAMP a couple weekends ago, and since then I’ve been hard into (my day job, my freelance work, and also) my two current projects: a short film called John Howard’s Knees and the animated cop show currently known as The Precinct.

While I was on comics camp (which I blogged more extensively about over here), I spent some time putting my Precinct plans into comics form (sometimes I find it easier to think about stuff when it’s drawn rather than just written down).

The idea involves the funding and production of a series of one minute Precinct episodes introducing the characters:

“ABSBSBC” refers to the two local TV networks I think the show is appropriate for, ABC and SBS.

Hopefully “FILM SCREEN VICSTRALIA COMMISSION” doesn’t need explanation.

I’ve been meeting with some smart, creative people I know and asking for their advice on this plan, which has been very helpful. I’ve also been asking about their ratio of businessy work (which makes the creative possible) compared to the creative work itself. In other words: how much time do you spend on the business end of things?

One successful producer of TV and film said “20%:80%” (in favour of creative). I hope to get to this ratio one day!

All plans and no followthrough makes David edgy

I spent 2009 planning and scheming and writing and talking and thinking. Lots of thinking!

This was all good stuff to do, in addition to the freelance work I had. But I did very little MAKING of STUFF!

I made a zine of some of my old articles and prose writing and took it to the National Young Writers Festival.

I made a little cartoon advertising a series of comics forums we put on at the Comedy Festival. I made it in one day and quite a lot of people saw it.

I made a few pages of comics and an interactive Youtube survey and a helpful example of lazy storyboarding.

But that’s all I made, and it’s not enough.

So 2010 will be a “making” year. I’m having a lot of trouble deciding what to spend time making. Some are things which I hope will move me closer to getting the Precinct animated series happening, and some are just things I’ve had “on the shelf” for years.

Here’s my list so far:

  1. Series of one minute Precinct shorts introducing the characters
  2. Precinct-themed video for new John Farnham song
  3. Precinct drawings for survey winners
  4. Printed collection of that weekly thing I have nothing to do with – coming along
  5. John Howard’s Knees (short musical cartoon) – written
  6. Gay Cannibal Grand Final (very nasty Up There Cazaly parody) – mostly written
  7. Herman, the Legal Labrador children’s book story
  8. Revised Precinct pitch/bible/promo (good idea, but NOT A REAL THING!)
  9. Herman kids series pitch/bible/promo (again, this is PLANNING, not a REAL THING)
  10. The Precinct: Playing To Win – mostly boarded
  11. Make Love To The Trees (short musical cartoon) – song recorded
  12. New Mr Flig animation – partially written
  13. “Animation collective”?
  14. Precinct/Herman-themed online choose-your-own-adventure – started
  15. POWAAA! – DONE:
  16. Animation based on that weekly thing I have nothing to do with
  17. Ask Dillon what happened with that other thing
  18. Cat vs. Mouse
  19. Live performance of CYOA story
  20. Keep making animatics (worthwhile?)
  21. Keep writing Precinct episode scripts
  22. Precinct avatar creator app

I’m going to try to do/finish many of those things this year!

I will need assistance with some of them, so my apologies if I come and bug you and ask for your help or advice; it’s only because

  • I think you’re great
  • I’m MAKING STUFF this year and nothing is going to stop me, least of all my own shyness/slackarsedness


Animation time again!

The MEGA pitch went really well! Unfortunately, none of the broadcasters or entertainment types Justin invited actually showed! True, the pitches were happening right in the middle of the work day, but still… not good enough, ABC and SBS. You really had something better to do?…


  1. Flicking through lists of reality shows, trying to find ones they can buy or produce that are superficially “classier” than the ones on the commercial networks
  2. Watching the hot new young guy, Tino, on Gardening Australia, touching selves lightly
  3. Latte-sipping
  4. “Lefty shit”
  5. Repeating the word “vodcast” over and over while staring, shirtless, into a mirror
  6. Thinking about where they were the day The Glass House got axed
  7. Establishing exciting new online initiative, closing down yesterday’s
  8. Ironing wrinkles out of Triple J presenters
  9. Searching for an even more wanky way to say “documentary” than “factual programming”
  10. Commissioning somethingorother

Obviously I kid. I do it because I love them so!

I’m going to do a video of the pitch so you (and they) can see what I presented on the day.

From the animatic

From the animatic

Meanwhile: it’s about time to make this John Farnham-related Precinct short I’ve been talking up for a while. Now that MEGA’s over I’ll have time to finish off the animatic. Then, it’s animation time.

I’d love to get it done over the holidays, but I can’t do it all myself. What I’m thinking is that I’ll set aside some money and hire on some help! I know a lot of animators who are suddenly out of work

The problem, of course, is that I can’t afford to pay people what they’re worth (or even what they’re used to being paid, which is another, lower, amount). I’m thinking that maybe I could assign individuals a maximum of one or two shots, to minimise the pain.

Not that I’m against abusing animators. They should just know they’re going to be abused before they sign up!

The Precinct: Playing To Win is going to be an “illegal” short, too, in the sense that it’ll be using copyrighted music by John Farnham. The idea is that w’re going to show it to John Farnham and he’ll like it enough to agree to get involved with the show (i.e. sing the theme song!). It so badly needs him.

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So: can you animate like this?

And do you want to be abused?

Proof things are moving along

Here’s the current version of my Farnsy-themed animatic!

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I (and our growing team) just spent a few weeks working on an application to Film Victoria‘s Digital Media Prototyping fund. It’s 80 pages long. You could injure someone with it if you swung it at their head. I would never do such a thing.

The “future-innovation-online-mobile-media” discussions that’ve gone on around it, and at MEGA, are starting to really do my head in. It’s becoming very clear that I’m not the sort of person who does big, visionary ideas involving technology that hasn’t been invented yet. I prefer looking at what already exists and trying to figure out how we can use it all in an amusing way.

Also, people continue to tell me things like “in the future, you won’t be a storyteller: you’ll be facilitating OTHER PEOPLE’S stories!” Because in the future nobody will watch a TV show or movie without interacting with it. Also, in the future everyone will wear silver jumpsuits and eat Space Food Sticks at every meal.

Never mind. The application we put in (around The Precinct and our “choose-your-own-adventure” thing) may not be enormously innovative technically, but it’d be (i) a lot of fun, (ii) a sweet tool for showing broadcasters the possibilities of COP ACTION as a cartoon and game and (iii) not half as easy, cheesy and token as some TV series online tie-ins I’ve seen.

And I am trying to open my mind to more inclusive, truly “interactive” stuff. As long as I can still make my funny toons.

Ackersley and keytar

Ackersley and keytar

Speaking of which, for those who were not at our secret Precinct puppet/slide-show in July, here’s the images we showed telling the story of our 1986 flashback episode! Since there’s no script or explanation, it will be be bit mystifying to most of you. Make up your own story: it’s TOTALLY INTERACTIVE OMG LOLZ

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We’re going to be pitching The Precinct to an audience of INDUSTRY BIGWIGS as the grand finale to MEGA later this month, and are able to make suggestions as to who should be invited! If you know of (or ARE) a switched-on film/tv/online industry person with a sense of humour, drop us a line and maybe we can swing a ticket their/your way.

Precinct ep. 00b: Eras of Farnham

Eras of Farnsy

Eras of Farnsy

For the upcoming Precinct animation: obviously “You’re the Voice” Farnham is familiar, but here’s sketches for some later era Farnhams. Click for a larger version.

Many of them will appear in this cartoon: basically he’ll be changing costume for every shot. Pain in the arse, as it means more character builds. But we’ll be using the eras of Farnsy to help show the passage of time, so it’s necessary.

Production begins on The Precinct, episode 00b: “Playing To Win”

Det. Ackersley, 1986

Det. Ackersley, 1986

YES! So, as I mentioned previously, I’m starting up a new Precinct short animation, the goals of which are:

  • to give viewers a bit more of the story we’re dealing with in the series
  • to reveal a bit more about Det. Ackersley’s personality
  • to show lots more ACTION and fast cutting
  • to shamelessly wallow in my John Farnham love and persuade him to get involved with the show

Since the production of Precinct episode 00a, “Good Friends”, was short and fast, and I was planning for MIPCOM and working a full time job then, I didn’t blog about the process at all. This time I want to post a lot about how it’s going, to (a) get the word out about The Precinct and (b) keep me motivated to finish.

Since I knew the point of this cartoon was mostly to show a little animated Farnham singing, the first thing I did was decide which of his songs I’d use as backing (yes, this cartoon will be packed with delicious copyrighted music, so I probably won’t be able to legally put it online).

I sat down with my Farnham collection and decided on a montage of the Precinct theme song with “Break The Ice”, which Mr. Farnham sang for the movie RAD, and the Little River Band chestnut “Playing to Win”. The three tracks are all synthtastic and in the same key, so they mix well.

Once I’d sequenced the backing music I wrote the opening scene, a short bit set in 1986 which features Ackersley getting yelled at by his angry boss. It concludes, slightly cheesily, with the words “playing to win”. At which point the song bursts forth.

After doing a few thumbnail panels on the tram, yesterday I started the storyboard/animatic properly. Here’s what I have so far!

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I haven’t “written” the whole “Playing to Win” sequence that’s coming up, because it has no dialogue. Instead I’ll just keep doing thumbnails of the montage images.

More soon!

EDIT: I worked more on this today. Now we’re almost up to the “Playing to Win” bit.