✏️ The Animated Kids Show: Part One
Developing An Animated Kids Show
The following series of posts I'll be sharing behind the scenes details of developing an animated kids show. From the ups and downs of this process I by no means have all the answers, heaven’s no! What I do have is personal stories and lessons I’ve learned along the way, which perhaps might be of use to you.
Over the next several posts I’ll be covering topics such as everything from first time dealing with SAG( Screen Actors Guild), finding brilliant voice actors, contacting agents, sponsors and what it takes to develop a pitch. I’ll also be detailing this story in a way that assumes you are as clueless as I was about this whole process. I'm embarrassed to admit for a long time I had always thought if you make the art the rest would fall into place. Well from my experience you've got to have more than a "if you build it they will come attitude". The creative world much like many other industries it takes strategy and opportunity.
While I’m presently typing this our kids show hasn't officially found a home yet, however we have collected some really talented people on the project, the voice talents of Carey Means(voice of Frylock from ATHF), John DiMaggio(Jake the Dog from Adventure Time/Bender the Robot from Futurama), Kate Miller(Sealab 2021/Law & Order), & Miranda Hart (a fantastic Brititish comedian) - plus great insights, & stories along with "Name Brand" rejection haha(which I’ll go into greater detail). As I'll be sharing these stories on my blog please feel free to ask any questions you might have about this experience. My heart is perhaps this can help throw open the gates for as many creatives as possible.
I’ll start this journey with a funny rejection story. But first a tiny bit of backstory. Here in America cartoons have historically been funded by sponsors. Think of a sugary cereal and you’re for sure to bring to mind an array of animated mascots from “Lucky Charms” to the Trix Rabbit the list goes on. That’s because an important strategy to selling your animated show is to have buy-in with sponsors. Now this strategy has been drastically evolving as companies like Netflix and Hulu dominate more and more peoples broadcast attention - this is both a good and a bad thing. Good because it’s opening new doors to creators, yet also more difficult because the tried and true methods are becoming less and less effective. It takes more to sell an idea to a sponsor when they’re painfully aware that the old ways are less successful. Netflix and Hulu also keep their analytics under lock and key which for creators makes the task even more difficult to try and cater their projects to potential clients. We’ll dig deeper into this ambiguous minefield later on. For now one of the strategies I’ve pursued was the classic one: finding sponsorships.
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way reflecting any ill will or disdain for the following brand. The following is just based off an experience I had inquiring about a sponsorship. Also I will be telling quite a bit of details now and eventually that relate to “the animated kids show”, the project is copyrighted and I'll be revealing the name of the show and other details organically throughout the posts. Ok so without further delay:
Turning Hormel’s stomach
To setup this story you need to know our project is about these animated insects. One characters name is Kafka and he is a beetle. In our pilot episode Kafka dives into a culinary Hawaiian inspired meal and begins to eat some "canned meat". Since we wanted to use SPAM I thought why not see if Hormel Foods might be interested as a sponsor? Now there's no special trick to reaching out to sponsors just so you know. They all typically have a marketing department or portal on their website you can contact. And it never hurts to ask. The worst they'll usually and I mean usually is just say no thank you or they'll ignore your request. It's important to get comfortable with rejection because lots of people won't see or understand your vision. That's ok. However also be sure to use good etiquette and have a fantastic pitch going in. Never be a jerk and remember several publishers passed on "Harry Potter"! If you don't think your project is the next big thing then you're not ready to pitch it! Ok so I contacted Hormel Foods and many weeks later I hear back from them with a detailed rejection letter. I was like win! Finally a reason or reasons they're saying no. But what surprised me was the details - firstly they told me that Hormel Foods typically only sponsors programming that caters to soap opera watching stay at home moms. I was puzzled at first then I realized well Hormel clearly knows their audience. Then came the humor part, at least humorous to me. The Hormel Foods rep continues to say that furthermore they find the idea of our animated insect eating a can of SPAM repulsive at best! I couldn't help but laugh out loud! I was taken back by this statement. I get it we don't want bugs in our food but I've never once thought there was bees in my Honey Nut Cheerios or cat hair in my Frosted Flakes. This comment seemed earnestly outrageous! Personally I don't mind the no and this story of turning Hormel Foods stomach warms me deeply. And if you're reading this Hormel again know I have no bad taste about this experience. It was memorable and that's a win in my book.
Thanks everyone for reading... if you have any questions please ask below.
Next post I'll be talking about finding voice actors.