Book Review: Animation Development: From Pitch to Production
Animation Development: From Pitch to Production is not a straightforward, how-to manual. In many ways, this is one of its greatest strengths. The book is full of compelling anecdotal information from successful members of the TV animation industry. Stories from such creators as Craig McCracken, Butch Hartman and Tom Warburton clearly illustrate that even the stars of our industry have experienced frustration and failure on their road to producing their own shows. They also share realistic advice for those with less experience looking to create their own series. Warburton, creator of Codename: Kids Next Door, recommends, "Start at the bottom and pay attention to every facet of production. Work your way up so when (and if) you do get your own show you know what you are talking about. You can't lead a team if you don't know how a production is run."
Also useful are the various insights offered by development executives from various studios and networks. Their quotes and tips can help the thoughtful reader leapfrog many rookie mistakes and become a more professional pitcher in a shorter amount of time. There are suggestions on pitch length, utilizing feedback and knowing what the company you pitch is looking for. And there are some candid insights into the pitching mistakes that can turn off some executives. Heather Kenyon of Starz Animation (and former AWN editor) notes that her pet peeve is "episode ideas that end with: 'Find out what happens when…' or a string of questions.' Will Larry save the day?' I don't know. Will he?" These incomplete story ideas are common in pitch documents, but they don't tell the network that the creator can tell a complete, fun and original story with their characters. Insights like this can help a budding creator craft a more professional, sellable pitch.