The Bolt Response

Remember my little brother Tristian? He wrote a great report for his Media class about how conservative columnist Andrew Bolt’s TV show works.

What happened next was that I entered Tristian’s report in the Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards, and it won in the Graphic Short Story category!

Mr. Bolt then found out about this, and used it to beat up on the Lord Mayor a bit. His loyal commenters weren’t very nice, either, and kind of missed the point.

I asked Tristian if he had a response to all this, and this is what he gave me:

Dear Andrew Bolt... bolt2_pg02The Bolt Quiz

“How cheap can you make it?” – why I’m making a TV series, but not for TV

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!

 

 

Sad Animator expects money. Laugh at him.

 

 

“Pretty cheap!”

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?”

“Pretty cheap!” I replied. I can make funny cartoons fairly quickly if I want to.

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.

 

 

A script. You could write one!

 

 

Devolving

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.

 

 

Storyboards. You could draw these.

 

 

“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.

 

A character. You could build this.

 

 

“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.

 

 

Backgrounds and props. You could draw these.

 

 

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.

 

 

Cartoons: you have to make them. They'll get you if you don't.

 

 

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.

Transmedia Vic Conference Day

What’s transmedia storytelling? It’s what we used to call “multiplatform”, or “cross media”.

Essentially, I think it just means “stories told across more than one platform”. Like a TV show that does little online videos that fill in a bit of backstory. Or those nifty games I’ve talked about before that were staged online and in “real life” as part of the marketing for movies like The Game and Donnie Darko.

Anyway, I went to the “conference day” of a thing called Transmedia Victoria today along with a lot of other arts type people, and listened to some pretty good speakers, some of whom had beards. As I sometimes do at things like this, I took some semi-pictorial notes:

It’s probably best if I don’t try to clarify anything in there, but I’ll just point out that the speakers didn’t necessarily say the things I’ve attributed to them (unless I used “inverted commas”). And the drawings are all pretty bad (but I like my renditions of Steve Peters and Stephanie Salter). I noted bits of info I found interesting, or that I wanted to translate into simpler language for myself.

Speakers were all worth hearing, and ranged from interesting to fun to, actually, quite inspiring. Thanks to Christy, Sue and the other organisers! Back for the workshops day tomorrow.