written by Joe Strike
Red Stick began today for real, sort of. An abbreviated session wrapped up around 4, in time for people to go out and enjoy the warm Louisiana sun – which they needed to do after spending the past several hours in the sub-zero temperatures of the Shaw Center’s Manship Theatre. (Don’t they know this is Earth Day, you’re supposed to cut back on the AC and all that?)
First session was dedicated to ‘New Business Models,’ which are actually combinations of old business models and guess what, the internet. Animation distributors and networks are on the lookout for “content that people are already connecting with,” according to panelist Leah Hoyer of the Disney Channel, adding that videos that spread virally (what they used to call ‘word of mouth’ before there was an internet) turn the internet into an ad-hoc focus group; if a comedy or animated video gets 500,000 hits in a few days, a major distributor can safely assume a lot more of that demographic will be interested in seeing the video too. Phrases like ‘branded entertainment,’ ‘monetize on-line content,’ ‘user-generated content’ and ‘DRM’ [digital rights management] were bandied about by all present. The takeaways: high-definition content is in demand – and practice your pitch on your friends before you go into a for-real meeting.
Comet’s Carmen and Raquel walked people thru the process of preparing one’s project for said meeting. (Register it with the US © office and – one I haven’t heard in a while – mail yourself a copy to prove your ownership) Oh, and make sure you have a lawyer looking over any contract you’re thinking about signing, because there are people who will slap you on the back with one hand – and pick your pocket with the other. (Nobody actually said that, but it’s the catchphrase of Racket Squad, a TV show I used to love way back when – and it’s kind of appropriate anyway.)
Hi Dan! AWN’s own Dan Sarto was there, leading a panel on ‘Catching Audiences in the Net,’ a panel that included – Hi Heather! – formerly AWN’s own Heather Kenyon, now a globe-trotting animation and programming consultant. Way too much to summarize here (the opening night reception is starting in 5 minutes!) but guess what: the internet is vital in launching any kind of animated project, not to mention putting yourself on the map as a creative content creator; like the better mousetrap, a catchy, funny (and viral) video will have the online world beating a path to your door.
Red Stick is most definitely a pitch-oriented gathering. In fact, the festival would make for a great reality show: the through-line is 15 would-be animation producers preparing their pitches in workshops overseen by industry pros for the closing day’s Pitch Contest. The day-ending “Profiles of New Content” turned out to be an early pitching session with three hopefuls and one on-the-air-in-Korea series presented by their creators. (Synchronicity moment of the day: tween superheroes Zap Squad, meet teen gal superheroes .) Unlike the upcoming showdown, these folks shared their processes and frustrations in the course of creating their pitches with the freezing folks in the audiences.