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As a live action film producer/director, Iâve often thought some ideas might be created as an animated series. What guidance would you give to someone looking to branch into animation? Assume I have no existing relationships.
Your best bet is to go through your agent, who should be able to get you meetings with animation execs.
Hi Greg. I'd like to ask for some career advice.
1. I would love to write for animation. Besides writing as much as possible, what steps should I take that would make me a better writer for this art form?
2. I love animation, but cannot draw nearly good enough for any type of decent storyboarding. Is this something I need to fix in order to write for animation? I'm good at describing what I want to see, but I'm worried not being talented at drawing will hurt my chances.
3. I'm curious on your stance in terms of writing CAMERA ANGLES and TYPES OF SHOTS in the script. Traditionally, I've been taught to leave that to the director as much as possible. How do you tackles this when you write?
4. In action sequences, how detailed do you go? Do you give a general description for the director or an actual play-by-play. For example, is it more: "they trade punches, parrying each other until Clara gets an opening and hits Harry across the face." OR "Clara goes for the uppercut, but Harry leans back and dodges, then attempts to sweep her legs. Clara jumps over the kick, then grabs his shoulders, and head butts her opponent. She makes up for the previous miss with a fist to the face." (Just came up with that, so obviously not the best examples but hopefully that suffices).
4. What should I do to get hired on a show? I know that connections are key, but as someone who has no connections, what's the best thing for me to do? I have a spec of another show and a pilot for an original series. I'd love to be a writer's assistant, but that also comes about through connections. I have occasionally messaged a creator on social media and asked if there was any opportunities on their show, but I know that's hardly a good method to pursue a career. Any guidance on this aspect would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these fan questions.
1. Sebastian, I'm going to refer you to the ASK GREG Archives on "Writing" and "Writing Tips" and "Biz, The". No offense, but I've answered this basic question so many times, it's kinda pointless for me to right it up again.
2. I can't draw stick figures well.
3. When I began in animation, we used to do much more directing in our scripts, as opposed to live action scripts, where you are advised to stick to Master Shots. Nowadays, we limit that calling of shots and angles, etc., to specific needs, e.g. we need a close-up on that light switch being turned off or a wide shot to reveal who is in the room or a tight close-up on a character's lips turning up into a cruel smile, etc.
4. I go for the specifics, because it expands page count. And page count equates to time. And if you're script is too long, you'll have to cut. So we try to get an accurate sense of time in the script, even if the board artists chose to choreograph the fight a bit differently.
5. Pre-pandemic, my first question would have been, "Where do you live?" And if your answer was anywhere other than Los Angeles, my second question would have been "When are you moving to Los Angeles?" Now, all the old rules are out the window, at least for the time being. I'm not sure what to recommend. Some of the advice in the archives should still be helpful. Otherwise, we're all just going to have to wait and see what happens, post-pandemic - assuming we ever get post-pandemic.
As a writer and creative, you've been responsible for some of my most cherished childhood and adulthood favorites. Given your experience, I wanted to know what one's approach would be when they come up with a story that they could see manifesting as an animated series? Do you flesh the whole story out as if writing a novel, or do you try and create episodes on paper and tell the whole story; is the process entirely different altogether? I would love your insight on this sensei. Thank You
Are we talking about selling or producing? They're two very different processes.
Sorry to put you on the spot but...
Roy Thomas alleges here, https://www.bleedingcool.com/2019/04/18/an-open-letter-to-dc-comics-from-roy-thomas-on-paying-and-crediting-whats-due/ that DC Entertainment has not paid him royalties for their use of Artemis who he created. How do you feel about this?
Did DC ask you to change Artemis' name to Tigress or was it just a story/character decision?
DC did not ask us to change Artemis' name to Tigress. That was a purely story-driven decision. (And her name is still Artemis Crock.) Besides, to my thinking Roy created BOTH Artemis and Tigress (i.e. the Tigress version of Paula Brooks).
I worked as Roy's assistant editor at DC in the mid-80s. He was very good to me. And, of course, I personally think he deserves royalties on the Artemis character, no matter what she's called.
In the Bleeding Cool article linked above, he's wrong on only one point: when he says that virtually every other character in YJ has creators listed. Unfortunately, that's not true. No matter how many creators he sees credited on our show, the vast majority of characters still do not receive creator credits - or only include some but not all of their creators. How they decide who does and doesn't receive that credit (and the royalties that go with) is a complete mystery to me. I have been pushing back against this from Day One... to no avail.
Now, I might honestly get in trouble for posting this. And it won't change anything, anyway. So a big part of me is hoping that Ask Greg doesn't have much of a reach.
Or that I'm politically smart enough to delete this post.
But I'm not.
Having watched the first half of season 3, I can honestly say that the writing on Young Justice is as sharp as ever. As always, some episodes like "Evolution" and "Nightmare Monkeys" are better than others, but that's going to be true of any show.
However, I recently re-watched "Depths" from season 2, and I have to say that the quality of the animation on Outsiders is just not at the level of the animation on seasons one and two. What would account for this? Is your budget smaller? Did you switch animation houses? Or, do you not agree with the premise of my question?
Don't get me wrong. I think the animation is okay. It's just not as good as prior seasons.
Our budgets are technically higher, but are (with inflation) more or less the same. We did switch animation houses. But we had to. The world has changed. There's way more production in Seoul than there used to be. It's way more competitive for studios and artists over there.
But basically, I don't agree with the premise of your question. We've had mixed animation success in every season, with strong episodes and weak episodes and everything in between. I'd put the animation on "Nightmare Monkeys" up against anything we did in Seasons One or Two. And there are episodes in all three seasons that had us pulling our hair out over the animation. In the end, however, I think they all cleaned up respectably.
Hi, Greg. I hope you are well. This is a follow up to an earlier question about what not to say while working in the entertainment business.
Would you say that it is best not to publicize your political opinions while working in the entertainment business - especially if they go against the mainstream? Would you suffer some kind of retribution if higher-ups don't like what you have to say?
Let me give you two examples. They are my examples, everyone. I am not saying Greg even has an opinion on either of these issues. Let's say you disagree with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and say so on an online forum - not as an employee of Warner Bros. but as a private citizen. Or, let's say you think corporations have too much power over the U.S. government and that corporate donations to political campaigns ought to be banned.
Would publicly expressing such opinions be a career ending move? Should you limit such discussions to friends and family?
I'm not too shy about expressing my political opinion. I'm a liberal Democrat and that's hardly a secret. And, GENERALLY, I work in a liberal industry, so there aren't a ton of repercussions professionally.
On the other hand, I try not to be obnoxious about it. And "politic" about when I bring things up. There are appropriate and inappropriate times. Again, most of this is about common sense and being polite.
On the third hand, I'm not that interested in using my position to make online political statements. I AM interested in using my fiction to make those statements: hopefully with some finesse, if not subtlety.
Most people who know me would say I'm book-smart, but not street smart. (I'm a little like Dustin on Stranger Things.) I have an unfortunate tendency to not be politically smart and blurt out exactly what I'm thinking. Sometimes it gets me into trouble.
How do you deal with that as someone working in the entertainment industry? What do you do, just for example,if someone asks you what you think about the current Spider-Man cartoon, and you happen to think that it sucks? What do you do if somebody asks you what executive producer John Doe is like, and you happen to think John is a jerk? Do you lie? Do you massage the truth? How do you do that? Can you give some examples? As someone who will probably always be socially inept, I'd love to know.
Teach me, oh wise one.:)
Mostly, it's about (a) thinking before you speak and (b) utilizing common sense.
A lot depends on who's asking me. Do I know this person? Do I trust this person? What does this person do?
If it's a reporter, I'm going to be way more circumspect unless I'm confident I'm speaking off the record.
If I think a show (or Producer) sucks, I'm not likely to say that unless I know the person I'm talking to and trust that person not to spread it.
Some of this is political. I don't want to burn bridges; I have to work in this town, etc. But some of it is just being polite and considerate. I don't review other pop culture for a living, and I don't need or want to be a jerk, tearing down the hard work of other professionals just because it's not to my taste.
Having said that, keep in mind, I haven't always been "wise" about this stuff. I had a massive learning curve as early answers in ASK GREG will probably reveal.
In the rise of tv shows being streamed on individual networks how can we support Young Justice and other shows like it? If this is a really simple solution, I am sorry as supporting shows and comics like this has been really complicated in the past with pre orders and toy lines and I would like a professional in the industry to clarify if it is not too presumptuous.
Basically, subscribe to the service that carries YJ. Back in S3, that was DC Universe. For S4, that'll be HBO Max. That's the best way.
Buying Blu-Rays and merch helps too.
Hey Greg, i have a question which hopefully won't be misconstrued as a spoiler request. You mention way back when that Cartoon Network wasn't ready to display openly LGBT characters in cartoons. However with Legend of Korra and later Star vs. the forces of Evil, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe and whatnot being more open with LGBT elements in series with a young demographic:
1. Do you think that Cartoon Network would be more open to having openly LGBT characters on Young Justice.
2. And in your opinion will cartoons in general start displaying more LGBT characters/themes?
Thanks in advance..
1. I honestly don't know. It's kind of a moot point vis-a-vis Young Justice, as season three won't be on Cartoon Network.
2. I think so. I hope so.
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.