Friday, 5 March 2010


For those of you who don't know, PUNKY is an animation series I developed in 2007/8 with help from the Irish Film Board. A great idea, with a feisty world of characters and some challenging storylines, it proved a contentious and difficult task to pull it into what the industry would regard as an animation series.

But I got there. Initially, I leant on the assistance of Barbara Slade (ex head writer of Rugrats) but briefly since development funding doesn't allow you to do that for very long if you actually want to live while you create your masterpiece.

That was an interesting process. Coming from a completely different perspective of working on series that were highly successful, highly American and highly saleable, Barbara's approach was a fantastic learning curve. However, I ended up with a treatment for a series that was professional, possibly commercial and for which I no longer felt I could write a single story.

Introduce Aidan Hickey, one of Ireland's longest serving animator and animation writer. Invaluable advice, freely given and full of encouragement and Punky raised her head above the parapet again.

This time Monster Animation were interested and by last October, we had, at the second attempt, received funding from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (now the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) and by late last year, the contracts were signed.

Meanwhile, being a spirited creation, Punky went to various animation and kids' tv markets, gathering "curious interest". and has just returned from Kidscreen in NY with what hopes to be more concrete interest in showing the series. Eventually.

So the process is about to begin. Only now the series is for 3-6 year olds because broadcasters don't believe any child over 6 watches cartoons. Which is palpable madness. Hell, I love cartoons; it was the only thing I watched with my father right after the six o'clock news. (Or was it before?) My daughter and her friends watch cartoons on telly and on the computer and they're all around the 11 year mark. Some of them are fantastic and fun and, if you're let, you can do things with a cast of animated characters that is impossible in the real world. That's the fun and delight of it!

But that's how it goes. And since an 11 minute episode (they will probably now have to be 7 minutes) takes a full animation team two weeks to animate, you can't really stand on your high horse of arrogance and say you're wrong. Nor do you want to step away from characters and a world you've poured so much heart, soul, imagination and sheer graft into getting, step by painful and sometimes exhilarating step, closer to becoming a reality.

Because that's the thing with screenwriting.

It's nothing on the page, no matter how good or original or brave. It has to be made.

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