A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Hello Mr. Weisman,
I had just a couple of questions.
1. One thing about the animation industry is that once a season is over there is no guarantee that the next season will be picked up. Should some one have a plan B for another profession if the next season does not work out? Or is there plenty of work in California that if you did your job well, finding another one should not take long?
2.If someone has a animation idea they want to pitch and have all the details worked out (pitch bible, characters, story, and pilot script) how would they know when they could pitch the idea?
3. I had a question for attires for animation shows. Does it cost more to have different episodic attires for characters or do characters have only one attire to save time? I know in Spectacular, Peter had a winter attire with the jacket, or that one time he had the black shirt with brown pants during the symbiote removal episode but is there a choice on whether they can change their attire episode by episode to add more realism?
1. Well, uh... There are no guarantees. I try to have other work lined up, pretty much always. And sometimes I'm just flat-out unemployed for stretches. This gig is not for the faint of heart, I guess.
2. I'm not sure I understand the question. If you're ready, pitch. But my caution would be to be careful not to poison the water. If it's a work in progress, and isn't actually very good (YET), then I wouldn't pitch. Make sure you're only showing the best possible version of what you've got. On the other hand, there's not much point in noodling forever on an idea. If it's solid, go for it.
3. Every design - and new clothes are a new design - cost time, which costs money. So, yes, in animation, we need a pretty good reason to give characters additional wardrobe. But if we need it, we need it.
I am very interested into breaking into the animation industry. I am currently in college working on my English writing skills and drawing skills as well. I heard in one of your previous interviews that moving to California would be smart as thats where alot of the animation jobs are. By the time you read this question I would hopefully be done reading "Gardner's Guide to Writing and Producing Animation" by Shan Muir. I should get a better idea about the industry itself from reading that book, but since you have experience as a animation producer I just had a couple of specific questions hopefully you can answer.
1. Would animation companies be more interested in investing original show ideas or original ideas on licenses they already acquire? I.E. an idea that some one made up and wanted to make into a show or having original material for a Marvel Spider-Man show or DC Superman show?
2. I have never been to California but I heard the cost of living is higher than any state (considering that Im from the east coast) should one wait to have an agent then move to Cali or should they move there, settle in, get a part time job then pursue after the animation career?
3.If by some miracle a persons idea gets picked up by a company, they might not immediately give them control over production. Could a recommendation for a more seasoned producer ( like Paul Dini, Victor Cook, or even Brandon Vietti) be made and considered? or is it 9/10 they provide their own producer?
4 (Last one) Animation on live television has changed drastically over the past couple of decades. With online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and even Amazon Prime have shown that people rather binge a season versus figure out what time slot it will appear on television. So my question is, if a person has an idea but would think that idea would perform better on a streaming service versus online television, should that be included in the pitch or should they let the executives worry about that? For example Marvel hasn't made a Spider-Man 2099 cartoon series yet and if it were to be adapted truly it would probably do way better on an online streaming service where people can watch and binge episodes on their own time, versus live television in which a shows lifespan can be cut at any moment.
That's all the questions that I have and I hope I haven't broken any of your guidelines. I hope to break into the industry within the next five years and is willing to do almost anything to make my dream come true. Thank you for your time!
1. Marquis value is always something sought after, but there's no way to predict what a given network or studio is looking for from the outside in. You can come in with a take on Wile E. Coyote, and find out that Warner Bros already has plans for him. So, I tend to advise people to spend their time on something they can own. But it's not a hard and fast rule.
2. I don't know how you get an agent without getting work first. And frankly, I don't know how you get a first job if you're not here pounding the pavement. There's work in New York. And a few other places. But most of the animation writing work is in Los Angeles.
3. How could you possibly get a recommendation to be a producer from anyone if you've never produced? Dude, you have to work your way up through the ranks. Freelance writer. Staff writer. Story editor. Producer. If you come in with a brilliant idea that they're desperate to have, I suppose anything is possible. But it's not likely. Prove yourself. THEN sell your brilliant idea.
4. You can suggest whatever you want. But if you sell to Netflix, for example, of course they're looking at a binge-model. And if you sell to Cartoon Network, of course they're NOT. So try not to limit your options.
Do you enjoy having conversations with people about your work (If they are not asking for spoilers or trying to pitch you ideas etc.
What in the animation industry has changed since you first got into it, for better or for worse?
Tons. And nothing.
The biggest change for me, right now at least, is the end of animation in broadcast syndication and for the major networks, through the rise and (plateauing) of cable stations, into streaming services.
1). You say to fans a good way of showing they want Young Justice to return, is to buy the comics, DVDs, and the game (and the toys still?), but how much would fans have to buy for this to happen? Is there a goal to reach maybe or perhaps just enough to get noticed by DC/WB that it's still something that people want more of?
I would think they'd be more interested in what was selling when the show was still on the air, because that's obviously what Mattel was looking at for it to pull its funding.
2). If by miracle, YJ does get brought back by Netflix, where would the funding come from? Having Mattel as a backer makes it look like it couldn't be made without it. Not every Warner Bros. Animation show has a backer (unless there's a silent contributer), and most of the Netflix shows have a backer (helped by broadcasters who air it around the world), so what would happen with YJ? Would it just be supported by Warner (and DC), itself? And I guess, Netflix.
Well, this is all largely moot now, but...
1. I never had a NUMBER or AMOUNT. It takes more to get a company's attention after a show is off the air, then it takes to keep a show on the air. The other thing to keep in mind is that buying toys (or whatever) second-hand does nothing to get a company's attention. So, for example, I was not advocating buying YJ toys this year, because those toys were off the market. Any purchases were second sales and does nothing for Mattel or WB or DC's bottom line.
2. So YJ's coming back, but I don't know where it will air. The term "backer" doesn't really fit, either. It's about MONEY. Money to produce the first two seasons of YJ came from Mattel and Cartoon Network. (Mostly from Mattel.) When Mattel pulled out, the money from CN wasn't enough to produce the series. Period. For season three, Warner Bros itself is paying for it, for now. They have confidence, I guess, that wherever it winds up and whatever merchandise they may or may not eventually release or license, they'll still make a profit. That's based on what the fans proved over the last few years.
After so many years what is your opinion of the current status of Animation in America?
Second with how animation in motion pictures is telling more diverse type of stories than before with DC having great success with there direct to video animated films having success directed at a more general audience the success of anime as a genre and animation widely accepted as a medium for adult comedy why don't great series of drama action and adventure, intelligent well told stories such YJ fet taken more serious?Why are they seen as directed ot young boys who buy toys?
Let me answer your second question first and work my way through the others from there.
I don't know.
I don't know why animation isn't taken more seriously by the general audience of adults. But the fact is: it isn't. Wish it wasn't so, but it is so. Even Pixar movies are largely viewed by MOST adults only if they are parents taking their children. There are a ton of exceptions, of course. And, of course, parents would rather see a movie that works on multiple levels, so that there's something for their kids, but also something for themselves, i.e. for adults. So parents/adults have learned to expect more from the animated movies of Pixar/Disney/Dreamworks/etc. because they've seen good movies from those companies and have started to learn the difference between a good animated move and a bad animated movie. And what is that difference? Well, your mileage may vary, but it's basically the same difference between a good movie and a bad movie, period.
As for a series like Young Justice, your thinking is backwards. Young boys don't buy toys. How could they? Where would they get the money? Parents buy toys for kids (boys AND girls) based on (a) what they think their kids like and (b) what their kids tell them they like.
A show like Young Justice is PAID FOR by the money that toys bring in. If there weren't toys, there wouldn't be any money to make the show. So, frankly, bitching about the shows being directed to kids for the purposes of selling toys is basically bitching about the show being made at all. Because, again, without the toy component, there is no show. NO SHOW.
That's why YJ didn't get a third season. The toyline failed. (We can spend hours discussing why, but that's another topic.) So no more money was coming in from the toy company. No money. NO SHOW. (Or no third season under that financial model, anyway.)
And I am 100% fine with that. Because I WANT kids watching Young Justice. Like a good Pixar movie, YJ is written on levels. There's plenty of eye candy for younger kids. Explosions, young heroes in costumes, etc. And plenty for tweens, teens, college students, adults and geeks of all ages to enjoy as well. That's the game plan. We have a target audience, we MUST hit, i.e. boys 6-11 years old. As long as we are successful in that demographic, everyone is happy. And everyone is HAPPIER if we also get girls 6-11 and boys 11-13, and girls 11-13 and teens and adults of all genders, etc., etc.,etc.
As for anime, and/or the DC animated movies, they are doing well - or better, at least. But let's not kid ourselves. They are still only serving niche audiences in the United States. They serve geeks of various flavors (myself included). On a grand scale - say, compared to LION KING or SHREK - they're not doing big numbers. They're just not. Fanbases on the internet fool themselves into thinking things are more popular and money-generating than they really are. "I like it and my friends like it and a bunch of strangers on the internet like it, therefore nearly EVERYONE must like it!' But that's a fallacy.
Which finally brings us to your first question: what is [my] opinion of the current status of Animation in America?
I don't know.
Big fan here (I reply to you on Twitter sometimes!) and I thought I'd make use of this site to get some help with my intention to write for television in the future!
First off, I'd like to say how much I love Young Justice. From the moment I finished the first episode, I was hooked. I'm quite a seasoned animation fan but I must say Young Justice is probably one of the best things I have ever watched; particularly it was the animation and writing that drew me in the most. I wasn't really into comic books too much before with the exception of adaptions from TV like Adventure Time, and manga; but Young Justice awakened a part of me that just had to look further into the characters, and now I'm completely taken in by the DC universe, it's so wonderful and for that I thank you for helping to bring Young Justice to light!
The show is truly an inspiration for me; I intend to become a writer for television, animation being my ultimate goal, in the near future. In September 2014 I will be starting a screenwriting course at university. I live in the UK, but hope to move to America in future to have a better chance of landing a writing job in animation.
1) What would you recommend I seek to do when I finish university? Would becoming an assistant at a TV studio help as a start?
2) Do you draw storyboards? I am not very confident in my drawing abilities and I'm worried this might affect pitching and demonstrating my ideas.
3) What are some key terms or quotes that have stuck in your head during your writing career? Things that people have told you and you have remembered and applied to your work?
4) Who are your inspirations? What programmes did you enjoy when you were a kid/teenager?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and answer my questions!
1. It wouldn't hurt. Get in there. See first hand how things are done. The main thing I recommend, you already plan to do, which is to move to where the work is. Second, WRITE. Third, REwrite. Fourth, PROOFREAD RELIGIOUSLY.
2. No, I can't draw stick figures well. I team up with very, very talented artists.
3. "Less is more."
4. Space Ghost. Speed Racer. Jonny Quest. Herculoids. Anything with Marvel or DC heroes in them. Hill Street Blues. Cheers.
Hi Greg. I am a big fan and I have a copyright question for you . The characters you use in Gargoyles are besides the main cast are mythological. So that would put them in the public domain, but your spin on them is that protected by copyright. Such as Oberon and Titania's connection to Avalon and their devours.
Thanks and Cant wait for Rebels and whatever else you do.
Oberon and Titania, to use your examples, are public domain. But our designs of them are not. And it one began to hew too closely to the backstories we created for them, Disney could, in theory, sue.
I leave tomorrow for MomoCon 2015. More information on it can be found at their website: http://www.momocon.com/
But here's MY schedule for the weekend:
FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015
BREAKING INTO ANIM 12:30pm - 01:30pm
Main "Villains" Room Omni-International
w/Floyd County Productions
SIGNING 03:30pm - 05:30pm
YOUNG JUSTICE 08:00pm - 09:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2015
SIGNING 11:00am - 12:30pm
ANIM CREATORS 02:00pm - 03:00pm
w/Ben Mangum, Mike Reiss
SIGNING 05:30pm - 07:00pm
SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015
SIGNING 11:30am - 01:00pm
GARGOYLES 02:00pm - 03:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
That's right! Both Keith "Goliath" David and Crispin "Red Arrow" Freeman will also be at MomoCon!
As usual, at my autograph sessions, I will happily sign anything you bring along with you for free. But I will also be signing and selling copies of my two novels RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM. ($10 per book, cash only.) If you purchase both books (signed and personalized for $20 cash total), you get a FREE art surprise. I will also be signing and selling copies of my animation and radio play scripts (from GARGOYLES, MEN IN BLACK, STARSHIP TROOPERS, TEAM ATLANTIS, W.I.T.C.H., THE BATMAN, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, DC SHOWCASE: GREEN ARROW, BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS GARGOYLES, YOUNG JUSTICE, BEWARE THE BATMAN, GARGOYLES MEETS THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS YOUNG JUSTICE and KIM POSSIBLE). Each signed and personalized script is $20 cash. I'll also be giving away #RainoftheGhosts AudioPlay postcards for free!
So please stop by and say hello!
1. Did you ever worry that you would be approached to start working on shows you've done in the past while you were already working on one? (Ex: Let's say you were working on Young Justice, but Disney approached you to work on Gargoyles again.)
2. What would you do if situations like that ever came up?
1. No, I should have such problems. I'm usually lucky to find one job. Having two I wanted that badly has literally NEVER come up.
2. I don't really deal in hypotheticals. The realities in front of me are confusifying enough.
New interview on Cinepresto, where I talk about my background, the biz, Gargoyles, Star Wars Kanan and the Rain of the Ghosts AudioPlay!
Hello, Mr. Weisman.
I had a question regarding the adaptation of original characters from television to their comic book counterparts. One of the more displayed occurrences of the comic book integrating a character from a television series was with DC comics integrating Harley Quinn from the Batman: The Animated Series. Since you had similar experience when the Aqualad character you created in conjunction with Brandon Vietti and Phil Bourassa became the official Aqualad of the DC comics universe, I thought you could answer a few questions on the subject.
1. What is the official process a comic book marketing company must use in order for its writers to begin using an original character? Do representatives from the comic book corporations contact writers from the television program and make negotiate to gain permission from you and other important figure heads on the television program?
2. How long does the process take for the comic book corporation to acquire all of the rights to the character and include the individual in the comic books?
3. How do these companies determine what makes an original character worthy of being integrated into the comic book continuity of these fictional universes? Since the version of the Aqualad character you created became the official one in the DC Comics universe, I imagine that the officials representing the comic book company would have explained what properties stood out the most.
4. Which party retains the copyright stemming from the creation of the character?
5. What are the chances that another one of your original characters from your Young Justice series, Green Beetle, will be adapted for the DC Comics continuity? After seeing the show, I was very surprised to learn everything about the character had not already been adapted from the comic books, but was an original creation on your part. Despite the limited screen time compared to some of the main characters, the character was fleshed-out and well-developed. I thought you had put enough creativity for the character to make a jump to the comic book continuity.
Thank you for your time.
1. I'm not too comfortable answering this generically. I'm sure every case is unique. So I can only speak to examples I've been involved with, specifically - as you mentioned - Aqualad. In that case, the thing to keep in mind is that no one employed on the production has any rights in ANY of the characters we create. It's all being done under a "Work For Hire" contract, which means that Time-Warner, the company that owns DC Comics, Warner Bros Animation and Cartoon Network, owns all our work product outright. So they don't need our permission to use characters they already own, including Aqualad, which (a) was based at least in part on the existing Aqualad that they already owned and (b) they owned from the moment the idea for the new version came out of our heads, pens, tablets and keyboards. Geoff Johns did contact us and talk to us about the details of our version. He then went off and did his own revision on that for DC Comics.
2. See above. They already owned it. So it took NO time.
3. I think Geoff just liked the character - and/or thought he could do something with him - but you'd really have to ask him.
4. There are no parties. There is only one big corporation with multiple divisions.
5. I think it's unlikely, because if it didn't happen back when the show was on the air, why would it happen now?
Need some advice because I just became a screenwriter for a Television series based in Hong Kong. How much should I charger per 24 minute episode?
I'm not sure how to advise you. The short answer is get as much money as you can squeeze out of them.
Animation Guild Union minimums are just over $7K per 22-minute episode, if that helps. WGA minimums are much, much higher.
The Gargoyles Twentieth Anniversary U.S. Tour continues. Stop #5 is MechaCon in New Orleans, LA: http://www.mechacon.com
Here's my schedule for the weekend:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1, 2014
04:00pm - 05:00pm: VOICE DIRECTING PANEL
Panel Room 1. With Jonathan Klein and Andrea Romano.
06:00pm - 07:00pm: OPENING CEREMONIES
08:00pm - 09:00pm: GOLDPASS MEET-N-GREET
SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 2014
11:00am - 12:00pm: SIGNING
Signing Room, Secondary Events. I'll be selling and signing copies of my new novels RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM. $10 cash for each book, which includes the book and a personalized signature. But if you buy both books for $20 cash, you also get free signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE - especially if you buy my book. ;).
02:00pm - 03:00pm: STATE OF THE ANIMATION INDUSTRY PANEL
Panel Room 1. With Jonathan Klein, Andrea Romano and Steve Yun.
03:00pm - 04:00pm: SIGNING
Signing Room, Secondary Events.
05:00pm - 06:00pm: GARGOYLES TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY PANEL
Panel Room 1.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 3, 2014
10:00am - 11:00am: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN PANEL
Panel Room 1.
11:00am - 12:00pm: SIGNING
Signing Room, Secondary Events.
12:00pm - 01:00pm: RAIN OF THE GHOSTS PANEL
Panel Room 1.
02:00pm - 03:00pm: YOUNG JUSTICE PANEL
Panel Room 1. With Khary Payton (voice of Aqualad, Black Manta, Brick, Black Lightning).
03:00pm - 04:00pm: SIGNING
Signing Room, Secondary Events.
If you're anywhere near NOLA, stop by and say hello!
On a slightly different note...
1. Do you watch/like the TV series "The Big Bang Theory"?
2. As you may know (if you've seen or heard about the show) some scenes in some episodes take place in a comic book store. Now I am not that much of a regular viewer but one time in an episode in the comic book store in the background on the racks was a copy of one of the Young Justice comic books! It must have been from a while back because I believe it was either issue #0 or #2. So I'm sorry I don't know the exactness but if I find out I'd let you know (or do you already know?)
3. I ask because I wonder if you are in some entitled to something because your comic book appeared on a TV show. Do you know if there should be some sort of payment or recognition for people whose work appears in such a manner due to copyright material?
4. Do you know or would you know someplace I could be directed about copyright issues? Like say I want to use the Flash in a comic strip; some people would say it's fine, but does credit need to be given to DC Comics or do I have to get permission from DC to use him? Or say I want to take a clip of the Flash from one of the YJ episodes; again should DC be consulted? Do you think the same thing would go for stores?
5. What's been your experience with issues like these? Say you might have wanted in one of your shows for characters to enter a Starbucks; do you have to ask permission from said company first?
Thanks a lot Greg!
1. Yes and yes.
2. I'd heard, but I hadn't noticed it myself. So I missed seeing the issue/episode.
3. DC owns all that. They don't have to pay me for using it as a prop.
4. Personally, I'd avoid using someone else's property in your work, period. But I'm no lawyer. And, no, I don't know where to direct you to research this.
5. I would pretty much NEVER do that. At most, I'd do a pastiche, like the FOREVER 16 SUBURBAN OUTFITTERS (instead of FOREVER 21 and URBAN OUTFITTERS) that appeared in Young Justice #0.
Do you think if I call cartoon network on a regular and complain about how unfair they are for taking down YJ before we was able to have a 3rd/4th/5th season but yet they have all these other shows like bakugan still coming on.? Im not trying to down play them but seriously. ?! Why that play all the time but yet there is never a rerun of YJ .?? It came on on Saturday and Sunday morning. ..that's it.! I wouldn't blame the ratings if its so low.. who really wakes up at 8 or 9 to watch that show (could have came on at 10, not sure since it been so long) unless they know it was going to play that time.?
And that's another thing.. how is anybody suppose to know is there was gonna be another season if y'all don't advertise it.? I realized that y'all didn't do that for the 2nd season or if you was gonna have one (unless I looked it up on Google or something). There was times were I didn't know if a show was coming on that Saturday morning and I would have woke up for nothing ... just upset and sad.. I think that's another reason why y'all did not have that many ratings... we never really knew when it would come on unless we look it up. Please answer ... I really wanna know
I've lost track of exactly what question you "really wanna know" the answer for. So I'll try to comment on what I can.
I think we can all agree that the series didn't receive as much promotion as we might have liked. Frankly, no show I've ever worked on has ever received as much promotion as I would have liked. None. (Although Star Wars Rebels may be the exception. Lucasfilm has quite the machine up and running to create buzz.) That's just the way things go in a business where promoting an animated series is an additional expense that most networks have decided they can't afford.
Whether you like Bakugan or not, keep in mind it's an acquisition, not an original series. It's considerably cheaper because the U.S. network doesn't have to pay for production, only for a license fee to air it in America.
Calling CN to complain daily does NOT sound like a good plan. Imagine if someone did that to you?
Considering you are part of the TV animation community, has anyone ever tried pitching an animation to a non-kids network ?
Do you think the cable and broadcast networks are too animation-phobic to actually try one out?
I'm not sure if "animation-phobic" is the correct term, but interest is not high.
Hi, Greg, just following up from what you said on twitter. Did you hear the comments Paul Dini made about why shows like Young Justice were not renewed?
Here's a link to the specific clip
And a link to the full podcast in case anyone else wants it
What are your thoughts on this?
For the record, I listened to the clip but not the entire podcast. So if I missed out on some important context, I apologize.
I agree with a lot of what was said, but I don't agree that the executives didn't want girls to watch. (And I'm not really sure that's exactly what was being said, though that's the way it's been reported on that internet thing.) The target audience for Young Justice was ALWAYS Boys 6-11. If we ALSO got girls that was fine. If we got older kids, tweens, teens and adults, that was fine. If we got younger kids, that was fine.
But we had to hit the target: Boys 6-11. And we did to some extent, but not enough to compensate for the loss of our toy line. Anyone who says the show was cancelled because too many people (of any specific demographic) were watching us, is, I think, grasping at straws. It's not that too many were watching, it's that NOT ENOUGH were watching in our target demographic. Even then, if the toys had sold, we would have been fine. But the toy line was cancelled, which took away our financing for the series. And that was that.
You had mentioned that you negotiated with Jeffrey Katzenberg to get the publishing rights for Rain of the Ghosts. Did you attempt to acquire the rights to any other property you developed while at Dreamworks?
I have turnaround rights to pitch a couple of other properties that I developed there.
Now that I've posted all my episode thoughts...(in theory I still plan on doing the same on the comics, but...) I want to say thank you for the series in general. (I'd go into details, but it seems redundant after posting all those responses.) I've thoroughly enjoyed it in all its parts. Well, by the time you read this the video game will be out. [Yep!] I probably will have to sit it out. Pathetic as it is, I have to admit to some motion sickness from a lot of video games. I'm assuming I'll be able to get some pretty detailed descriptions from the good folks here. I hope that there will be other continuations as well. (Also good luck on your new Star Wars series.)
I have to admit to more than a little annoyance that another show I enjoy is canceled, but also some confusion. If I understand correctly one of the major factors, if not the major factor in the cancellation is that the merchandise didn't sell as well as they companies had hoped. Good viewership numbers are almost inconsequential. If this is true, (big if, I admit), I don't understand the business model. Why continue making cartoons targeting the older demographic at all? I know the show aimed for a broad audience, but it aimed for each part directly. A lot of cartoons aim themselves at kids directly, and place bonus references and jokes for the older viewers. I've loved many shows like that. But the complexity of characters and plots in shows like Young Justice is not a bonus for older viewers, it is integral. (IMHO) A relationship like, for example, Guardian and Bumblebee is more relateable to a college or adult viewer than a kid. (I would have gone to Babs and Dick, but that was mainly expanded upon in the comics.) A kid would gravitate to the first season romances, or the M'gan/L'gan/Conner triangle. All the relationships were interesting and important to the show, and none were simple, it's just different parts resonant (from experience or at least plot type familiarity) better to different age sets. (Or for out of YJ examples- In Green Lantern- the complexity of Razor and Ia's relationship- given his past lost love, her resemblance, his survivor guilt and rage issues and her ultimate sacrifice is not something that targets the younger viewers of the show. They'll just accept the two are a couple and enjoy the fight scenes. It was perhaps more integral to the show than any Hal based plot. In Tron the entire looks of the show was aimed older, high teens and 20s would be my guess, and not particularly conducive to action figures to my eye.)
Older fans are less likely to buy toys, (or have toys bought for them), but they also have control over their own finances to buy what is actually advertised during broadcast. Between the 24 hour cable tv cycle and dvrs, grown ups will be watching when kids can't, allowing for targeted ads of the none happy meal/stompies/pillow pet variety. (For the record, my 4.5 year old adores her stompies. ~she's 5 now~) I get that a franchise like DC or Marvel or Star Wars can expect some cross product sales, and even a show not squarely aimed at a small kid can have a cool iconic action figure that sells well. But no one expects Smallville or Arrow to survive on toy and apparel sales, they stays on air based on the number and demographics of viewers, just like Birds of Prey did not last for the same reason. Have cartoons, or at least the beautifully animated ones, become loss leaders for merchandise like comics have become loss leaders for movies? And is that a reasonable burden to place on a show that does not squarely target the audience that will buy those toys? Is a high level video game an attempt to tap into an action figure equivalent of older viewers?
I don't want to turn this into a rant about how annoyed I am that YJ was canceled....er, not renewed. I will admit to being mightily confused why DC Nation isn't aiming to expand into more than an hour of programming. I just assumed it was planned to become a 2 or 3 hour block like the old Disney Afternoon, with perhaps a rotating stable of shows. But I am interested on your more insider insight on what the none creative aims are when a new cartoon is unleashed upon the world nowadays and whether they are reasonable. Thanks,
I think one thing to keep in mind is ratings these days are NOT what they used to be.
Ducktales was a ratings smash. It made it's money by itself. Any merchandising was gravy.
Our numbers on Gargoyles, back in the day, puts the ratings of many of today's quote-unquote top-rated animated series to shame. (And Gargoyles was a hit, but never a home run, ratings-wise. Just a single or double.)
So with lower numbers overall, that means less income is coming in from advertising. Meanwhile, the costs of production have either held steady or gone up. That's pretty simple math, isn't it?
So to pay for the production of these shows, you're counting on other streams of revenue to balance the books - and for an action show that mostly means TOYS.
So if the toys don't sell - for whatever reason - how do you pay for the series?
Whether that's reasonable or not is somewhat immaterial. It's just the cold, hard truth of the situation.
So EVERY show I've ever been asked to produce has a core target that it's trying to reach, and usually that's BOYS 6-11, because the belief is (whether you agree or not) that Boys 6-11 drive toy sales for action figures. Doesn't mean the networks object to other demographics (girls or younger kids or older kids, tweens, teens and adults) ALSO watching. But you still have to hit the target.
Picture it like a bullseye. Concentric circles. You MUST hit the center. But hopefully in hitting that sweet spot, you are also reaching the other demos. Back on Gargoyles, I was farely successful at hitting that target audience AND reaching other demos too. And that has always been my goal on these shows. We didn't quite manage it on W.I.T.C.H. We did on Spectacular Spider-Man. And our success was mixed on Young Justice. Ratings were decent overall (by today's standards though not by any absolute standard at all), but our ratings in our target demo were inconsistent at best. (We could go on forever about why, but it doesn't change the FACT of the numbers.)
Throw in Mattel's decision to abandon their YJ line (again, without going into the reasons behind it), and frankly it's no surprise we weren't renewed.
Because how could Warner Bros afford to make it?
After experimenting for two seasons and 46 episodes of YJ, why wouldn't they take the chance on something new that might bring in more money? Or at least pay its own way?
Frankly, we need a new business model. But the studios haven't landed on one that works yet. So they still chase hits.
Thank you for answering my previous questions!
You have made reference to SAG before, so presumably Young Justice has to abide by SAG rules or get boycotted. I have a few questions related to this and the voice acting part of the production process:
1. How do the voice talent get paid? A flat rate? Are they paid by the hour? By the line? By the episode? Or some variable rate?
2. When you voiced Lucas Carr, did you have to join the SAG union? Or is production allowed to hire non-SAG personnel as long as they pay them differently?
3. You have stated that getting a second character out of an actor entails no added costs. Since it is free, I am wondering why a few actors (Jesse McCartney comes to mind) doesn't get to voice a character other than Dick Grayson. Was it a matter of actor preference, producer preference, or a mix of the two?
4. How long does a typical recording session last? Do you sit in throughout the whole session, or leave it up to the voice director? How many episode(s) are typically recorded in a sitting?
5. When one of the voice actors sing a song (Reach for a Reach, Hello Megan), they get separately credited. Is this subject to a different rate, or is the singing part simply added as a "character" in determining pay?
Thank you, and I hope by the time you are reading this, you've already got several gigs lined up!
0. I'm not sure "boycot" is the correct word. The major studios sign contracts with SAG, that prohibits them from contracting non-SAG labor for their acting needs. They can get around this by SUB-contracting, but most don't on major projects.
1. I don't want to speak for EVERY show. In my experience, a voice actor gets paid a flat fee for four hours of work and up to two character voices. For a tiny additional fee, you can get a third voice. But this holds per episode. So for example, even if you could record one guy playing four roles over two episodes in a single four hour session, you'd still owe him two payments. The fee is negotiable, as long as it's above union minimum. But most series pay the union minimum plus 10% and have favored nation clauses in their contracts, which prohibits them from giving any individual actor a raise without simultaneously giving raises to EVERY actor on the series.
2. I first joined SAG to play Donald Menken on Spectacular Spider-Man, and am still a member in good-standing. No union shop can hire non-union actors.
3. Well, Jesse often DID voice additional characters, like Thug #2 or whatever. But generally, there are some actors who have the ability to change their voice enough that they can convincingly play multiple characters without the audience balking. Others really - as talented as they are as performers - only have their own voice.
4. Sessions typically go three to four hours. But often we'll be there all day. We can only keep each individual actor for four hours without incurring overtime, but we could start one actor at 10am and have him until 2pm. And we could start another actor at noon, and have her until 4pm. And a third at 1pm and keep him until 5pm. That way, we have overlap to record their scenes together, but we also have more time to get everything done.
5. Singing is a separate rate. And it's also an additional character, unless they are singing IN CHARACTER. That is, if Nightwing suddenly burst into song, we'd have to pay an additional fee to Jesse for his singing. But we wouldn't have to count that as a second character (or third, since he's also doing Thug #2).
My friend and I really want to start a comic book company, but we do not know how. I was wondering if you could give us some helpful hints or tips for getting started. Thank you very much for you time and answers.
Hints on starting a company? No, sorry. I don't know how.
1a. When you are working on a series and have to deal with a story bible or design document, is it inclusive of scripts and detail or just an over view.
1b. If they get to large is it common to separate them into their own documents? ex. A document for characters biographies and another for plots/timelines.
2. When changes are made to either a script or story bible do you use strike-through until it is finalized or simply delete the content?
3. When I am working on story boards or scripts I try to make characters actions be causality based and driven by their personality, moral alignment and available options. Is this similar to how you create your story lines?
4. How can I make characters engaging and direct through dialogue in scenes that are relaxed?
5. What is your going rate for projects and would you be interested in working with Mark Crilley or Luaren Faust?
1a. Most series bibles are written in advance of scripts. Mine TEND to be very thorough, including plans for stories, etc. But, no, by definition, it does not include all the details included in all the scripts. I try to update/revise the bible as we proceed. But by that time no one's looking at the darn thing anymore, so keeping the bible on track is a luxury and a low priority and almost always falls by the waysid. I'm not sure what you mean by a "design document".
1b. For a television series that doesn't seem like something that would ever happen. Years ago, I did do the bible for the entire Platinum Comics Universe, and that was so long that I did split it into multiple sections.
2. See above. But I tend not to use strikethrough very often. I tend to just revise.
3. Yeah, pretty much.
4. Get in their heads. Be clear what they want. Be clear on the difference between what they want and what they know they want. HEAR THEIR VOICES.
5. I'm not going to tell you what I get paid. Sorry.
5a. I'm always interested in collaborating with talented folks, but I'm not going to get specific about any individual.
Are you cursed? If so please provide name of curser and last known adress, thank you.
Let's please not perpetuate this "cursed" thing. I mean, seriously, that's all I need. For the next guy who might want to hire me to think I'm cursed and/or incapable of going beyond two seasons.
Why do networks love canceling your shows? Seriously, your shows are always my favorite on any network that they're on, and yet that network always thinks that it's a great idea to cancel it!
It's nothing personal. Believe me. I'd love to indulge my paranoid side and think it is, but it just isn't.