What the Networks and Studios want to see?
You have the thought of developing a completely incredible script for your cartoon series so you can sell to a network but do you have what they want?
There are three main sources execuitves work from when developing the cartoons we see on our television screens.
Classic Cartoon Characters
The classics are always the best right? Classic characters have what networks call “marquee value”. Which means they are familiar and so will have an audience that will already be lying in wait to watch. When developing your cartoon script having these types of characters will be in your favor, you see networks most often develop series from this angle because they do not want to spend thousands in creating new characters no one has ever heard of.
It’s one of the main reasons you have series such as;
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command where we have Buzz taken from the blockbuster animated feature length comedy Toy Story.
- The Adventures of Johnny Quest where a classic character was taken and then updated for the audience of today.
Try putting cartoon characters in a time machine for fresh ideas
I know what your thinking cartoon characters don’t age- I mean your right, Bart Simpson has been ten years old since The Simpsons had line boil but applying some lineages magic can help you get that script looking a sold idea.
Creating new cartoons from old characters with a new look will be in your favor since there will be no reason for an introduction.
Examples will be
- Yogi Bear who got shoved in the time machine and was turned into Yo, Yogi!
- A Pup Named Scooby Doo from Scooby Doo had the same treatment but I don’t advise making them old, let’s be honest how much of a story can come from ‘ An OLD Hound Named Scooby Doo’.
An idea you can pitch in a sentence.
Tiny Toons from the Looney Tunes. Taking an old idea and making it high-concept means you can describe your idea in a few sentences and it’s not because you forgot your lines but it’s because there’s no need for more words to be said.
This makes it marketable when you pitch your idea making it appealing because the bottom line for these networks is money-money-money. How much will the series generate? It’s what is constantly on their cash hungry pockets minds and if your idea has the big dollar sign on it then it’s a go go.
These are ideas are where you rip off- sorry, capitalize on previous success of films, comic books, film stars, video games anything really, you name it.
This is a sure fire hit or miss. Shows that have been created from this are;
- Ace Venture Pet Detective from the film
- Or the lasagna eating ornage cat Garfield– oh and his friends.
- Men In Black the Animated Series taken from Men In Black.
The list goes on. Come to think about it they weren’t to original with the names. Scratch that, I mean what else would you call Men In Black? Men In Dark Suits With Black Ties and White Shirts just doesn’t work I guess.
Stand up for your rights
Slight problem with using this concept for an animated script idea would be that you need the rights to create it, which makes things a lot more difficult for yourself when trying to pitch it to some executive.
The originals concept, this is where it gets hard. They are hardest to get off the ground at a network or studio because of the amount of money, time and energy.
I bet your wondering where The Simpsons and South Park come into play here, well Networks such as Fox, MTV and Comedy Central have had success with shows such as the previous mentioned. These are original ideas that have worked well because of their target markets.
Seth MacFarlanes Secrets Technique – Combine Concepts.
Seth Macfarlane created Family Guy and we all know how similar it is to The Simpsons. To the point that they even draw up on it in the episodes themselves. Family Guy is an original idea to some extent but it also takes the concept of using classic cartoons. With the audience of The Simpsons, Family Guy already had half the work done for it so all Seth had to do was change the names a little bit.
Then you have the other of Seth’s creations American Dad and Cleveland Show which are almost carbon copies but they are successful because ? There’s an audience out there, so when think of writing your cartoon script take a note and think, is there an audience already there?
Toys R us
Executives tend to want to use original concepts that come from a toy or game such as
- The addictive game that follows a young boy who wants to become a Pokemon master, weird the name of the show skips my memory
- GI Joes.
This works because of those screaming kids saying they want the game after watching the show , then they want the T shirt- how do I know, well I was on of them. A network will look at the invest and see that there is a large return to make in revenue and will like the script idea.
Audience in mind.
Not only keep in mind who your writing for but make sure there’s enough of them out there. Creating shows for girls generally doesn’t go as mainstream and successful as those tailored to boys. Studies indicate girls watch variety of shows and are not gender orientated.
If you want to develop a spec (writing on the speculation that you are going to sell the idea) then you need to have a cartoon bible for your series.
Seth Macfarlane’s Secret
Seth MacFarlane may be talented but he’s also seriously lucky. How did people not realize all of his shows were the same up until this point?
MacFarlane knew of the success through writing a script with an ‘original concept’ just watch the video below by College Humor as proof.
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