Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Even the successful get the blues

I have a friend whose career hasn't been all that different to my own, with one exception - he created a show that got made, he wrote it and it is a success. Not a massive blockbuster 'he's a multi-millionaire' kind of success, but it is without a doubt a success. Sold all over, doing really well in its target age group and it seems any child that sees it, likes it. He's a lucky bastard.

He was embedded in an animation company when he created the show so, now, they own all the rights to it but he got a really good deal on paper so who knows what untold riches it could lead to. It's also the studio's first actual success story, and they have been trying to get shows made for years.

And here he is, telling me that he's not feeling the love.

Not feeling the love. What, are they nuts? He's made a bucketload of episodes that children love and now he has got a great new show that's really well-developed and looks to me like it's an obvious hit and he's not feeling the love. I had to find out more.

Turns out it's not that the producer isn't looking for new product. No, every now and again he brings in something one of his mates wrote for their kids. Usually barely legible, about fairies, and utterly dull. One even written by his mate's child, that went something like this - I saw a bear, it was nice, the end. And he's prioritising these over the one person he has who is a proven success and shows he can connect not just with his own children, but children across the world. I have to ask again - what, are they nuts?!

So he's feeling alone with this show. He's feeling alone in his studio. Unsupported.

It's tough - I know what it's like. It is next to impossible to get a show off the ground at the best of times. Getting access to anyone without a producer really pushing hard for the show really doesn't happen. Having a producer that takes the show to a broadcaster or funder and doesn't put his all into it is as bad as not having a producer at all. Possibly worse because it can sour the show. Usually, creators, writers or directors don't have the type of head it takes to pull together fincancing, co-productions, legal whatevers and so on. Some do, but then their energies are split. It's not the best scenario. It's not that shows aren't getting made. This particular guy is seeing shows all around him getting pulled together with local funds where he is (seem to be pretty good there), co-productions (usually with Canada - good public money) and broadcaster pre-sales. But the chances of him doing it without a supportive producer?

I'd say slim to none.

Personally, I think it's nuts but I can't imagine it's an isolated incident. Something just seems very shortsighted about it.

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