Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Christmas gig!

Next Tuesday evening, all animation-related networks are coming together to celebrate the season, including the Creatives in Animation Network, now nearly three years old! Starts at 6pm in the Odeon Bar, Harcourt Street, with free nibbles (I believe) for earlycomers and thanks to Women in Animation who organised the venue and this wonderful poster! 

I won't be able to make in - I'll be travelling back from London - so kick up your heels and down a Jamey n Red on my behalf please!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

DARA - a new game for children with autism.

Today, I launched a new Facebook page for my latest project, a passion project really, called DARA. It's a computer game designed for children with autism.

You can find more info on the game here.I'm hoping to get involvement going and discussions as the project moves forward here, on the Facebook page and on Twitter, directly and by messaging.

Right now I'm sourcing development and research funding and partnerships, building up a network internationally of people who want to talk about their kids and what they'd like to have for their kids to make sure the game is the best it can be and achieves everything it can achieve.

It also has to be an awesome game so that kids will play it of their own volition. They will repeat play. They will engage wholly. And being in that space, given the gameplay is being designed to help they develop social skills and coping mechanisms, they are learning constantly and without even being aware of it.

Fore parents, of course, it's an educational tool. There will be digital monitoring so they can see the areas their child focusses on and can work on further tangible development of this skill in the real world. But meanwhile, they will  know that their child is in a safe place and that they are playing a game which is teaching them crucial skills,,,,

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Watch this space!!


Friday, 28 November 2014

Digital Puppeteering - it's Magical ! (Or MagicFriendsical?)

MagicFriends, the first App I was ever hired as a writer on, was launched this week on the App Store. This is exciting enough but really, the magic is in the game itself, and that's how I got hooked into the project in the first place.

Essentially, you get to talk to your child as a fantasy character, one that you control, one that you 'voice' and one that you can make dance or twirl or leap in the air. Effectively, you become a digital puppeteer and witness the magic occur!

Here's how it works. You connect two i-devices via wifi - you and your child could be in different rooms or even different countries. Your child rings Santa or Prancer, Sam the snowman or Candy the elf (Xmas edition) and when you answer, having morphed your voice in real time via the in-app voice-changer, your child sees and hears the character they called on their screen talking to them. By swiping and tapping, you can animate the character and she or he dances, twirls, winks, jumps, laughs etc on your child's device.

But the real magic is what happens when the conversation begins. Because you know your child, because this - for them - is real - anything can happen. Candy the  elf may be making the sort of toy your child dreams of getting. Prancer might have spotted a dog just like yours last year when he was on the roof. Santa might even guess what your child would really like while Sam might need your child to cheer him up with a terrible joke because he can't go into the grotto to watch the toys being made.

There are sample conversations and stories on the website  about life in the North Pole (Xmas edition), jokes and anecdotes about sharing a shed with eight other reindeer or working in a section of the toy factory or trying to wake Santa up in the morning. These are there to help you get started if you need them, but once the child starts engaging - and it's pretty instant; after all the world of imagination is just as real to them as the real world is - it just takes off and it is sooooo much fun, on both sides of the conversation.

At a technical end, it's using new technology developed in Maynooth, the engineering is done by Marino Software and the animation by Giant Animation...

If you want to see the video about how it all works, it's on the MagicFriends website . To download, the app is 4.99 per annum but Sam the Snowman is free if you want to try it out here - and new characters will be added through the year.There are a couple of Bunglalobs and a toothfairy called Penny in the wings.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Excellent speakers make Creatives in Animation Network's first 'themed' event a great night

Thanks to our brilliant, enthusiastic and inspiring speakers, CAN's first 'themed' event was a great evening. Charlene Putney on Twine, Chris Gregan (Snozbot) on their creation - the free games software engine, Fungus - and Dave McCabe on being a freelance Narrative Designer versus almost any other form of scriptwriter... The time flew in and several of us ended up sipping and talking on in the IFI afterwards.

Thanks to Filmbase for the room. Normally, CAN events are held in the Roasted Brown Cafe space on the floor below but we needed a screen to see some sample games -- yeah, it's a tough night when you have to watch games and learn interesting things from interesting people!

Unusually, we didn't have a lot of writers this time but we had everything else in the creative sphere of animation, vfx, games... If it felt a bit formal to be sitting in an 'official space' compared to gathering around tables downstairs, the ease of information flowing around the room and the candidness of the speakers made it a very special event. Not sure I got to talk to all the newcomers afterwards but hopefully they'll be back.

I'm thinking a themed night or two every year -- any ideas??

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

International Win for PUNKY in Moscow!!

International Win for PUNKY in Moscow!!

Wonderful news: PUNKY has won Best Film for Children in Moscow at The International Disability Film Festival 'Breaking Down The International Disability Film Festival: Breaking Down Barriers' You can see Aimee Richardson,  of the wonderful actress who brought Punky to life collecting the award here

Congratulations to everyone who made it happen - behind the scenes, animating the scenes, voicing the scenes, directing them, storyboarding them, music-ifying them, writing them, creating the original concept art for them ... and especially to Gerard O'Rourke of Geronimo Productions (European Producer of the Year 2012) who utterly believed it was possible from the first time I brought my idea to him and Aimee who made it real.

Monday, 6 October 2014

WULFIE.... Next stop MIPCOM...

WULFIE, children’s animation series, target age 6-11; 52 x 11 min eps

WULFIE, a series based on stories I created for my daughter and that I presented with Monster Entertainment at Cartoon Forum on September 24th is gearing up for another French sortie. He's off to Cannes. To Mipcom, no less, to continue the charm offensive!

Wulfie has also just launched his own Facebook page - Wulfie From Lupislandia - because he was so excited by all the attention he got at Cartoon Forum 2014.

Libby is being very patient with him but checking the posts and watching what he writes about her, about her friends and her world. Meanwhile I've started writing the first of a series of Wulfie books for the same age group.

And we are proud of him. He's our rapscallion, Wulfie - insatiably curious and irrepressible - and his feisty best friend, Libby has a full time job trying to contain him. The stories are all about life as a ten year-old, trying to juggle horrible homework, irritating teachers, annoying step-brother etc but with Wulfie diving in to try and fix things/ make them better/ more fun and always making things a hundred times worse/ more complicated and more fun. In the end. 

We presented at 11am on the first day of Cartoon Forum. In the Purple Room, which seemed like a good omen. We wore purple ears and tails - and I actually enjoyed the tail swishing against my legs! Pictures are here: Wulfie Presentation. Feedback was excellent and will be followed up at Mipcom.

Lead writer :Steven Banks, former head writer of SpongeBob Squarepants. Both of us have already written two scripts apiece.
Concept Design: Aaron Blecha.
Director is Andrew Crotty (I'm a Creepy Crawly) 
Animation Director: Paul Maddon (Inis Spraoi, I'm a Creepy Crawly and I'm a Monster) Lead Animator: Mark Flood r.
Creator, Writer & Creative Consultant: Lindsay J Sedgwick (Punky, Wildernuts, MagicFriends)

52 x 11 min episodes. 
Production to start June 2015 and last 18 months.
Budget: 4.5 million Euro; c 26% required via co-production and pre-sales. 
Presented Cartoon Forum 2014 and at  Mipcom in 2014
Compositing, offline and online editing will take place in-house at Monster Entertainment while all audio will be produced at Gorilla Sound. 

Materials available: Full series bible, teaser, four completed scripts

Friday, 3 October 2014

Cartoon Forum - Wulfie Dived Into the Limelight and Loved it!

Andrew Fitzpatrick, Monster Entertainment, starts the presentation off...
Was it only last week?

Variety article: Wulfie Carries Irish Flag

Wulfie has been presented - to a large room full of broadcasters, investors and peers and the feedback was fantastic.

Presentation in full flight: Wulfie, the ultimate - impossible - best friend.

Next stop Mipcom!

In full flight - action pics may not be flattering but talking about my favourite purple creation was a blast!
Andrew Fitzpatrick gives them the figures - we only need 26% more!
If you want to get to know Wulfie and the other characters in the series better, check out Wulfie's new Facebook page...

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Off to Cartoon Forum!!

The teaser is done, the speeches are ready - ish - props are being finalised and my inner-Wulfie is nibbling at the bit to get on stage and tell everyone about WULFIE...

Not long now! On Wednesday next, the 24th of Sept,  at 11am local time (10 am here in Dublin), I take to the stage, with Andrew Fitzpatrick (Monster Entertainment) and we try to spread the excitement that is my new series, WULFIE with the world.... 

How fantastic an opportunity is that? 

After years and years of pitching my work in all sorts of venues and to all sorts of peoples, in groups of up to twenty, this is without question the most nerve-wrackingly exciting presentation I have ever anticipated.

But here's the thing, pitching can be fun....if you're prepared, if you know your project inside out and if you really believe in it. Presenting a project to people who are interested enough to come and listen, is a privilege. It's the chance to make other people feel the excitement you feel in your project. 

Passion is a huge part of it. 

Having a story, characters, and idea you really believe in, can carry you a long way. With Wulfie, that's not hard to find. I invented this mischievous purple wolf-like creature in my daughter's purple bedroom. His best friend had my daughter's name, was her age and for my daughter, tucked up in bed -- or more likely sitting up and telling me what should happen or getting excited and frustrated with my storytelling skills - he was a new best friend. 

He even swallowed kids who were mean to her -- what's not to like?! And now, just a few years later, I'm working with Monster Entertainment who can actually make this series happen...

And look at this for a team: 

Director : Andrew Crotty (I'm a Creepy Crawly) 
Animation Director: Paul Madden as Animation Director (Inis Spraoi, I'm a Creepy Crawly and I'm a Monster) 
Lead Animator: Mark Flood
Lead writer is Steven Banks, former head writer of SpongeBob Squarepants. Both of us have already written two scripts apiece.
The concepts you see here were designed by Aaron Blecha.

So Cartoon Forum, here we come....

Monday, 18 August 2014

Keep the Date free: September 8th!

8th September 2015 - 

The date is set for the next Creatives in Animation Network event - Monday 8th September starting 7 pm sharp - 9pm  in the Roasted Brown cafe space. (They do the best flat white in Dublin. Sadly, they close on Mondays at 5.30 so I'll bring tea and coffee along). Love to see as many of you there as possible who have been before - seems ages since the last one - and hopefully a swell of new faces too.

Pass on the word too and let me know if you're coming along (ljsedgwick@lindsayjsedgwick.com) so I can keep an eye on numbers given the limited space.

I have to say, this is the third year now - and the 11th event -  since I set this group up and I have met such a fantastic whorl of interesting and talented people, as have most of these people when they came along. It's a meet n greet gathering, about making contacts you can follow up on not pitching, although sometimes you can't help yourself. We have a huge range and scope of members now - you can find out more on the dedicated page below.

As for how CAN works after that: Everyone who comes to an event can agree to be on a group email -- this is only for those who have attended one of these events and is to allow you to follow up with each other more easily - while there is also a Facebook page and a more international one on LinkedIn for further networking.

Monday, 28 July 2014

GAMES/ APPS.... An exciting new writing field!

In 2013 I started working on a game, then an app and this year a second game... It's a whole new world for me as a writer and an extremely stimulating one!

NEWZMONKEYS: Creative Consultant (2013 -). My first involvement in the games world! This game  is being developed in Dundalk by Carmel Crawford and her team and it's all about making words and writing and journalism fun for kids aged 6-11. I came on board because I was a journo for 13 years before becoming a professional screenwriter. Check this recent review to give you an idea of what to expect when it's launched later this year.

MAGICFRIENDS: Story and character creation, script development. This app is from the imagination of Caramagic/  Giant Animation/  Marino Software.. It's so new and such a clever idea that I can see it taking off as soon as the world gets hold of it! Creating fun characters from the animation concepts by Giant Animation / Dan Spenser is, again, allowing me to use my imagination so freely. Launch is due late August with engineering and app design by Marino Software.

GRIEF: Storylining, story development and creation (2014-). I'm working with Alan Boyce of Nevermind Games on this one. It's a really interesting project that I've been involved in from the beginning when Alan told me his idea and I thought it was fantastic. I have to say that working on this from the start is absolutely nourishing my imagination, allowing me to do things that as a writer I'm not allowed in the world of conventional screenwriting! I mean, I have five worlds to create and each of these worlds has three worlds within it and it's just wickedly exciting to work on but I can't say more about it yet!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Creating Content for Kid's Shows (PART 3): How to be International

Greetings - finally, here's part three - How to be International -  culled from wisdom delivered at the Creating Content for Children's Shows workshop last month by the talented Leanne Preston of Bright Box. 

It's an interesting concept - we all want our shows to travel - but yet be original and fresh and new. PUNKY has managed it - Series One has sold all over the world to as diverse a range of territories as Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Qatar, Denmark and the US. There's even an episode on YouTube in Turkish! Hopefully Series Two will too... and Wulfie... and Roxy & Rowena...

If you want to catch up on the previous content, here are the links to
Creating Content for Kid's Shows Part 1: Standing out from the crowd
Creating Content for Kid's Shows Part 2: The broadcasters

How to be International...
  • Create a world that could be set 'anywhere' or somewhere fictional.
In simple terms, this might mean making up a name for your town or world that isn't too place specific. It might mean not putting the kids in school uniforms (in Germany, for example, they don't wear them). Make it feel like a world all kids yearn to belong to or at least visit regularly on their tvs/ computers but that feels like it could exist because it's not obviously set in Ireland or elsewhere.
  • Find a universal theme.
Similarly, you want children to understand what motivates, what drives your character - it might be aspirational, it might by identification with that motivation but the the concerns and issues your characters have are ones your audience knows of, has felt or to which can closely relate . For example very child wants a best friend, perhaps, or every child can understand loneliness, being afraid to go to school, wanting to be popular, to be the best at something, to be the bravest etc.
  • Curriculum issues.
This last one can seem to run counter to the idea of creating a series that is unique and utterly original but the idea is not to alienate a large segment of the international audience you aspire to reach. For example, setting a series in Victorian times might not working internationally. Why, because it's an historical period that grew from the UK/ the Empire and which, while not restricted to the Western Europe and the US, didn't have the same impact elsewhere.

I ran into this many years ago with a storyline pitch for an existing series. The title I'd chosen to develop into an outline involved the North Pole. So I used Santa. Without giving the story away - because a producer expressed strong interest in it as a feature film a few days ago! - it was a neat little tale with a twist involving science and magic and wish fulfilment and making things better and allsorts of nice things and it really worked. I could see it.

Only it didn't. Santa was too 'culture specific' for the Asian market. I did one about an Ice Hotel with a basement full of kidnapped animals instead...  but it's funny, that original idea never went away cos I know it works. Maybe now it will resurface and become my first Christmas feature!
  • Tone and voice/ Writing talent...
  • Dialogue...
Mid-Atlantic seems to be the way to go here though there are exceptions. In pre-school, for example, English accents seem to be acceptable, possibly because speech is clear and minimal?

But otherwise, in scripts travelling internationally, the rule of thumb seems to be that you have to find a universal phrase/ word - ie not idiosyncratic to the culture from which you come - "Or American, if there isn't one".
  • Familiarity
  • Casting
  • Jokes and references
They can seriously date a project. What you do want are jokes that will amuse the adults who are also watching or nostalgia that will pull them in and increase the likelihood that this is a series that will run and run like Peppa Pig or SpongeBob or Gumball...

I was told once that the fantastic thing about writing a children's animation series is that the audience 'renews' itself every four years -- if you can make your characters and stories appeal, especially internationally, it could run forever. Or be re-created anew every so often like Ninja Turtles who no longer look much like the series I knew - far more beefed up! 

Leanne's workshop was run on April 25th by Animation Skillnet, which was set up by Gareth Lee, a member of the Creatives in Animation Network (CAN)  and Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) Animation at BCFE. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Creating Content for Kid's' Shows. Part 2: The broadcasters

"We'll know it when we see it..."
"Show us something we can't refuse..."

Broadcasters and networks don't always make themselves easy for us to 'read'. In the past I remember my agent firing me wish lists after he'd meeting with a network, broadcaster or producer or when a new development exec was scouting for material through the agencies and I would try to find ideas that might fit. They either came from my existing portfolio or I'd fire off something new that I felt would grab attention and possibly lead to a commission.

As far as I recall, none of them did! But at least I now have a few black boxes of ideas, germs of ideas and pitches that just might be right sometime! It's a good exercise in ideas-generation that should stand me in good stead in any writers' room...

Frustrating though!

At the Creating Content for Children's Shows workshop last month, run by Animation SkillnetLeanne Preston of Bright Box had a few very useful pointers to offer. Sometimes all you need is a list to check through, even if it seems that some of the points should be common sense or second nature, and it can clarify the pitching process.

I've already worked with Leanne on my series WULFIE, which is in development with Monster Entertainment, and her credentials are impressive. Animation Skillnet was set up by Gareth Lee, a member of the Creatives in Animation Network (CAN)  and Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) Animation at BCFE.

So what do they want?
  • Each broadcaster has their own remit and the advice was to do your research both on their shows and the personnel you might be talking to. 
If you know your current pitch is unlikely to appeal, take the time to make a good impression and create the contact you can follow up on when you have a pitch that might suit better. Find out what's on their wish list. It might be the very way to come up with a new idea fast!
  • You want to find a show that fits in their current schedule - but offers something extra.
  • Strong, positive characters -- but steer clear of stereotypes. 
Instead offer multi-layered characters - we want to be finding out about them as we watch. Something that sits with their brand - so KNOW their brand. Create characters we want to spend time with. Turn stereotypes on their heads. Have fun!
  • Comedy. Action is served by the big brands; we can't really compete.
  • Upper pre-school/ bridge shows
  • Transmedia shows with an enhanced audience experience.
As for the networks themselves:

  • Cartoon Network is boy-skewed, but they don't want to ignore girls, after all they did the Powderpuff Girls...
  • Disney want strong female leads, positive role models whereas Disney XD are looking for boys' shows, aged 8-14 and it's all about 'levelling up' ie being a better version of yourself on TV, eg having super powers, being able to run really fast etc.

Our own feedback from Kidscreen regarding my new pre-school show (ROXY & ROWENA) was that if a series had magic, they'd be interested. Otherwise not.
  • Nickelodeon are more gender neutral. They want characters that boys and girls can relate to in every show. 
Still to come in this series:
  1. How to make your series international...
  2. Market awareness
  3. Things to avoid...

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Creating Content for Kids's Shows (PART 1)

Animation Skillnet (set up by Gareth Lee, a member of the Creatives in Animation Network and Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) Animation at BCFE) brought Leanne Preston of Bright Box over to run a one day workshop on this subject last Friday (25th April) in the Guinness Enterprise Centre. 

I have a new series, ROXY & ROWENA that I'm developing with Natasha Crandall, an educational consultant in New York. We'd had it at Kidscreen in February and it wasn't working - everyone loved the idea but wondered was it a regular series or a series of 2-3 minute fillers or should it be a series of books? - so this was my excuse to attend. 

Having worked with Leanne recently on WULFIE (in development with Monster Entertainment, with Media funding), I knew she was good and I wasn't disappointed! So, today, I'm just going to share her pointers from one section and I'll come back with another next week.

So, how do you ensure that you and your series stand out from the crowd? 

  • You create unique lovable characters.
Okay, well this seems obvious but the point was made that since characters do not change in an animated series, regardless of what happens, even the 'bad guys' have to have some redeeming quality as well as being the victim of their own downfall. I found this out with WULFIE. My original stories and bible (circa 2006//) had a parent who hated her step daughter, my lead character, Libby and this had to change. Networks want to "promote positivity" - so the lesson seems to be, "keep your Roald Dahl material for the novel"!

As a writer, we create worlds that we feel work but it's a collaborative and expensive process developing and producing an animation series so material is honed and lessons are learnt!  It's not always easy though. If you're lucky, you look back and say the decision-makers were absolutely right. 

The other issue I've had is having too many characters - too many interesting characters - in series' bibles. The original PUNKY had a whole Comic Con of additional characters I absolutely loved. And they went. Well they went into a messy corner of my brain waiting for a chance to rise again. I've a feeling they will. They get argumentative from time to time about their enforced inactivity and besides, other characters, shelved from series I've created, have gone on to have, in one case, a novel and in another a feature script all of their own. 
  • You have a fresh visual style (Gumball for eg, though less expensive!)
  • An original concept. 
Boil it down. What are your series USPs (unique selling points)? Is it transmedia, very interactive, is it the look, the characters? 

Can you summarise the concept in one sentence, max 25 words, that makes it sound unique? Oh and just because it hasn't been done, doesn't necessarily mean it's the next hot idea - it might not have been done because it's too difficult. Leanne gave one example of a cookery show she was developing for kids -- the restrictions placed on what you could actually show kids doing and with what implements made it, in the end, a no go.

I've run into this working on some series - where I was told I couldn't have the child climb out a window or rescue a mouse that was about to eat food poison in case kids copied. It was the same with climbing trees. In some cases, yes, you don't break the rules but on the other hand, the last thing in the world you want to create if you want it to stand out is a series that is so safe it's running backwards into its own shadow and apologising. 

  • Target co-viewers ie the adults who watch with kids. Elements that work and seem to help with longevity and international sales are jokes for the adults - yes, even Peppa Pig has them, so does SpongeBob - and a healthy dose of nostalgia (Adventure Time).
  • The series has licencing and merchandising potential. Are there props or characters you can use for this?
While pitching ROXY & ROWENA at Kidscreen, one exec told Natasha that Roxy, the dog was generic, ie what would make it stand out on a toy shelf? All I had done was create a scruffy but cute and loveable dog -- but that isn't enough. Mind you, Natascha was also told that there was no way a series could go into production in which the lead character was a girl with red hair because "other kids won't relate to her"!

  • Redeveloping known and successful properties eg Ninja Mutant Turtles -- again, this isn't something most of us can do as freelance writers and animators or even as small companies. 
  • Adapting properties from successful properties in other mediums - from books, comics, web series. 
Look at what kids are watching, said Leanne. The Annoying Orange and Fred both began online -- I only saw them because my teenage daughter thought they were hilarious at the time and introduced me. Doesn't mean I liked them or found them funny - I didn't - but it's a good idea to keep abreast of what they are watching.

  • Timing - this is the element of luck. 
There are zeitgeists out there and people might be developing something similar -- but if that series doesn't work, then by the time you have your series ready, perhaps it'll be the right time?!

  • Make an impact when you pitch. 

Make them remember you -- for the right reasons! Ask them what they're looking for and then, if it's not something your idea sits well within, make it a general meeting and follow up with other material later.  Research the people you are going to pitch for so you can target your pitch to them -- make them feel special!!

  • Know your key markets.  

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Monday 28th: Come to CAN (Creatives in Animation Network) - the next gathering of creatives

Just a reminder - next Monday is the 10th Creatives in Animation Network (CAN) event. Starts at 7pm sharp, ending at 9. Open to writers and those working in animation who are interested in collaborating. We already have a fantastic network of creatives and the gatherings are never, ever dull!

Let me know if you want to come along at ljsedgwick@lindsayjsedgwick.com -- sorry, must be the longest email address around! - so I can keep an eye on numbers. (Though, if you've been to a meeting before, you can just turn up at 7 if it turns out that you are free after all.)

Creatives in Animation Network (CAN) Info Sheet

Monday, 7 April 2014


So we didn't get an IFTA, it really doesn't matter and congratulations to all who did. It was PUNKY's third IFTA nomination and there was also a Celtic Media Award nomination in 2012 -- and that's a pretty delightful track record!

We actually met fantastic and interesting people including Philomena Lee, Steve Coogan, Michael D Higgins - in what other country could you tap the President on the shoulder as he was was eating dinner and he'd get to his feet for a photo and a chat?! - Brendan Gleeson - he and Aimee had a good chat about acting - Michael Fassbender, Simon Delaney and many others across the waves of the film and TV industry. We celebrated being there with everyone else, even got a bit of dancing in - thanks Aimee, nobody else would have danced with me! - and had a ball.


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Thanks to the talent behind PUNKY... we're off to the IFTAs on Saturday again

The dress is ready and Leo’s bow tie has been found skulking in the depths of his sock drawer because this Saturday, PUNKY (Series 2) is up for her third IFTA, for Best Children's Programme.

Voiced by the wonderful Aimee Richardson, this little girl I created back in 2007 has stolen hearts not just here but internationally, showing what is possible if you get enough inspired and brave people backing an idea. 

First Andrew Meehan, former Development Exec in the Irish Film Board dived in. He loved the idea I pitched and the IFB rolled in to give me development funding to prepare a full bible, episodes and hire a script consultant – Barbara Slade (ex Rugrats) and then Aidan Hickey.I was already in touch with Down Syndrome Ireland who were hugely supportive. That was late 2007 and it was ready by the end of the summer 2008.

Which is when Gerard O'Rourke - European Producer of the Year/ Cartoon Forum/ 2011/ Annecy –  of Geronimo Productions (which was then Monster Animation) – came on board. He loved the idea and saw its potential from the start and that was exciting. Ciara McClean did some drawings, RTE weighed in behind it and the money was raised – doesn’t that sound easy! (It never is.) – through IFB, BAI, Section 481 and the first series was launched on RTE in May 2012 directed by Jason Tammemagi and Simon Crane and starring Aimee Richardson as Punky.

The impact the series immediately had surprised, delighted and humbled me and when PUNKY was nominated in 2012 for two IFTAs and one Celtic Media Award that year, it was a delicious bit of icing on top.

Series 2 was officially launched this February on RTE Junior. But it only exists because so many people believed in it, worked on it and made it happen. So to all the people who physically made the episodes, who promoted and believed in it and to all the people who have watched it over the last few years, this IFTA nomination is for you!  

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Contracts -- the GLORY of knowing what to look for!

Spent five hours yesterday learning about contracts (and some stuff on copyright) with solicitor, Linda Scales at the Centre for Creative Practices. It was fascinating. Fantastic to realise how much I already know - from negotiations over the years - but wonderful to get those extra little gems.

For example, if negotiating by email, always add: subject to written agreement/ contract. Then you're not bound by what you agree until you're ready to be.

Ownership of the work is separate to ownership of the copyright. When work is commissioned, the creator retains the copyright -- unless the contract says otherwise. The commissioner merely gets a licence, express or implied.

A licence is a permission to exercise certain rights for specific purposes.

An assignment of the rights is a complete transfer but it can be for a limited period. This leads the the 'turnaround' clause I learnt the importance of many years ago -- ie if they have bought the rights to your material but haven't made the film/ tv series etc, all rights revert back to the creator after a certain period of years.

That electronic agreements seem to be as binding as signed hard copy contracts.

That you need to negotiate and specify exactly what rights you are selling -- and hold onto those you don't want to seel or can't assign a value to yet, to be negotiated at a later stage. Or work out terms by which you are willing to give them up.

Perhaps offer two price options - the cost of buyout of the rights and the cost of a licence with royalties.

Be very clear, that seems to be the message.

There is no contract if it can't be enforceable, that is if there is not a clear intent of agreement. For example, if someone says they will buy a script/ a piece of art when you're finished, if they like it, that is not a binding agreement.

There is no copyright in ideas, only in the creation of something from the idea - such as a treatment etc. Copyright is automatic in your creative work. It means you have the right to prevent exploitation of your work. The right to prevent others from :

  1. copying your work, 
  2. making the work available to the public, 
  3. distributing copies of the work or 
  4. adapting or making derivatives of the work. 

The copyright holder is entitled to control derivatives -- unless you sign them away. You can specify that the company licencing your creative material or buying some of the copyright must re-negotiate for any specific form of derivatives if you are uncomfortable giving up those rights or cannot know the value of them.

Then there was the debate re royalties versus a flat fee or a mix thereof. If the company are abroad, if if is likely to be a hassle chasing those royalties, is it worth accept a flat fee for the buyout? Aparently - and I hope I get the phrasing right here - if 11 words in a newspaper article are re-used in a piece by another author that reflect the reporters original creative intention, then that - according to some recent case - is regarded as "a substantial part" and an infringement of copyright.

And there was tons more. I also came away with templates for contracts for most anything I might ever need.

Now all I need is someone to offer me a contract so I can dig my teeth in and test what I know!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

PUNKY is off to the IFTAs again!

PUNKY, series 2, which officially launched last month on RTE Junior, has been nominated again for an Irish Film and Television Award (IFTA) this year for Best Children's Programme. The series is produced by Geronimo Productions (Formerly Monster Animation) and stars Aimee Richardson as the voice of Punky.

Here's a link to clips from the new series of PUNKY (which also includes clips of Wildernuts  (Kavaleer), another new series to which I contributed scripts).

The original series, which I created and Gerard O'Rourke of Geronimo Productions (formerly Monster Animation) produced, was launched in 2011 and has been sold internationally into territories including Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Qatar, Denmark and the US. The second series was officially launched in February 2014.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

It's working: the Creatives in Animation Network (CAN)

The 9th Creatives in Animation Network (CAN) event was held on Monday, Jan 3rd.
Yet another interesting group of creative and energetic people who want to make magic.

The first CAN event was in January 2012 and  some 140 people have now attended events , with some 180 in total becoming part of the wider, international network through CAN group pages on Facebook and LinkedIn. Information is being spread between Creatives freely, which is fantastic and positive. 

Collaborations have happened - in terms of a feature, shorts, series, games - already! And the network is still growing...

It's kind of cool to have been behind the start of this back in December 2011!

Information Sheet on the Creatives in Animation Network

Friday, 31 January 2014

How a Random Call Led to a Series

In October 2011, I was heading to New York to see a reading of my TV pilot, Archangel in the Irish Rep. The reading was being produced by - and driven by - the wonderful Anna Nugent (who played the lead role) and Paul Nugent.

Because I know virtually no-one in New York, I put a call out through LinkedIn - anyone want to meet in New York on these dates? - and ended up meeting Natascha Crandall, an educational consultant who worked with children's (mostly animation) series. (It's an impressive list: Nickelodeon’s Peter Rabbit, Zack and Quack, Bubble Guppies, The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets, CBeebies’ Bing Bunny, The Octonauts, Sesame Tree, Sprout’s Driftwood Bay, and many Sesame Workshop.)

We had a lovely chocolate-filled meeting in a cafe that seemed to make everything - main courses, starters, every type of dessert with chocolate. I talked to her about WULFIE - currently in development with Monster Entertainment, with MEDIA support- and PUNKY (Geronimo Animation; second series is being officially launched February 3rd on RTE Junior alongside another series I worked on, WILDERNUTS (Kavaleer)). We talked about life in general - y'know, hopes, dreams, aspirations, need for chocolate on a regular basis - and decided we'd love to work together.

Roll on to last February. She had people interested in ideas and did I have any? Well, Wulfie was gone so I started firing ideas out of the ether -- far easier than getting them produced! -- and one of them stuck. ROXY & ROWENA. I did a bible, she pulled together an amazing curriculum in its support and we began to talk to animators.

And now, in little over a week it's off to Kidscreen! As if it's all grown up and ready to leave home! Natascha will be pitching it - so far - to Sprout, PBS, Zodiak, Sixteen South, Nick UK and Hulu.

And yesterday I got final animation from the wonderful artist,  Larry Ruppel (see pic to left) so now the bible can be finished.

It kills me that I won't be there to pitch this series alongside Natascha! It's a pretty personal project and a very sweet one and wouldn't it be amazing if it got picked up?!

At least it will be in good company because its older cousins WULFIE - an amazing project now after nearly eight months of development - and PUNKY will be will be somewhere there too.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Worms in The Wall... my new (live action) series!

The pilot script is written, the bible has been beautifully transformed by Tom Roche into something divine and this week my new series goes out to woo networks in pursuit of a slot!

Worms in the Wall is an idea I've been developing with Paul Donovan of Grand Picturesand I'm really excited about it. I've wanted for decades to develop something loosely based on the B&B my Grandmother ran in Dun Laoghaire from the 1920s and the seafront hotel (the Wavecrest) she took on in 1936. I've toyed with elements of it - the permanent winter residents my mother grew up with, the friendships residents formed with their landlady, the history happening all around them... but nothing had ever worked.

Until last September.

I've also always wanted to work on something with Grand Pictures. One of their most recent successes has been as co-producer with Sky of Moone Boy, a series I love. They were interested in one of my first family features back in 2003 but I took the film in a different direction. Still, it has been at the back of my mind and this year when I met Paul at the Galway Film Fleadh and he said he was looking for TV, specifically comedy drama, my antennae went up. I sent him a couple of series ideas that were ready to go and reasonably developed but neither of them stuck.

Then I remembered my Grandmother's B&B/ hotel... I sent Paul a one page pitch called Worms in the Wall. We met for coffee, he was passionate about the potential for the idea and I got to work. One deal memo later and Worms... began to seriously evolve.

It's great working with a producer who's on the same wavelength and as keen to get a project made as you are to write it. It's actually fun. You come away from meetings not feeling stressed or bogged down by notes but itching to get into the next draft. It's been a painless and pleasurable process.

Oh and if you're wondering where the title comes from, I once stayed in this really dodgy hotel while backpacking around Oz in 1987. In this hotel - they're really B&B's but if they serve drink, they're 'hotels' - Auld Lang's Aye played constantly. When I asked why, I was told that if they stopped playing it, all the termites would stop holding hands and the place would fall down.

I'm not sure what my Grandmother would have thought of that!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Date set for first Creatives in Animation Network event of 2014

Greetings and happy New Year to everyone!

The first CAN event of 2014 will be held on Monday February 3rd in the Roasted Brown Cafe space (thanks Fergal) in Filmbase (Curved St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2) from 7-9pm. Hope to see many of you there -- let me know if you can make it along by mailing me on ljsedgwick@lindsayjsedgwick.com!

There is no doubt but that creative collaborations have been happening at various levels among network members, which is exciting! This is the third year of the Network, so we're still only in infancy. For those of you who haven't heard of the network before, check out the dedicated page on this blog.

Carla Mooney, who joined the network in Galway, is behind the Silk Road film festival in Dublin this March and asked me to mention it. Some of you may even have films that would be a good match. The website is http://silkroadfilmfestival.com

(Logo design by Neil Delaney)