The leaves begin to turn.
The children go back to school.
And all of the animation organizations return from their summer hiatus to once again inform the masses.
Women in Animation kicked off its first meeting by bringing together two industry greats – Tom Warburton, a.k.a. Mr. Warburton, creator of Code Name: Kids Next Door, and Heather Kenyon, Senior Director of Development of Original Series at Cartoon Network. I had the great pleasure of meeting Tom at David Levy’s book signing earlier this year, and he is as funny as I remember. And as a HUGE FAN of Cartoon Network (ahem, “Teen Titans!”, “Samurai Jack!”) I truly enjoyed meeting Ms. Kenyon. She proved to be absolutely delightful offered a great wealth of wisdom regarding how to pitch a show, how to take criticism and what to put in a pitch bible (fill your pitch bible with cool pictures- don’t make it novel size!) and what Cartoon Network looks for (boy’s action shows). She also recommended that when creating a show, think of the type of show you wanted to watch at age eight that you never thought people would make, and go from there.
I learned that running your own series is not for the faint of heart. Animation is not a nine to five office job, and those that wish to create a great series ala “KND”, “Teen Titans” or “Ben 10” better prepare to put in the hours – i.e. working 7 days a week, being the first to arrive and the last to leave (at 8, not 5). However, the reward is a great product and getting to work with awesome people, and if you don’t burn your bridges, those are the same people you can bring aboard your next awesome project. For example, Tom worked with Mo Williams on “Sheep in the Big City,” and he later brought Mo to work on “KND”. And Rob Renzetti impressed the CN folks so much with his work and personality that he is now part of the CN development team.
When asked how he keeps from imploding, Tom responded that he does get overwhelmed sometimes, but that it is important to keep a level-head on the job, because people are looking up to you, their captain, to steer the ship. Also, he said that there would be times when things are crazy, but you get that extra rush of adreline and that enables you to work 7 days straight and get thing accomplished. Heather also added that proper nutrition, sleep and exercise will keep you sane during the creative process.
Mr. Warburton also recommended that beginning animators work on other people’s shows, so that they can make mistakes on those shows, instead of their own, and learn how the entire creation process actually works.
So there you have it folks. Work hard, play hard, learn from those who’ve come before you and you’ll be just fine.