It’s odd that the genre of kids’ TV is often overlooked by screenwriting events, seminars and the so-called gurus. It’s also rare to meet a writer who aspires to write for kids’ TV.
Why is this the case? Perhaps it’s because kids’ TV is for, well, kids. And maybe there’s a misplaced notion that writing for kids must be simple compared to primetime drama or feature films. Or that there’s not much kudos involved in writing for the genre.
If this is the case, then it’s an erroneous point-of-view. Writing for kids’ TV is challenging, fun, and profitable. It also requires the same amount of screenwriting skill and craft as writing any other drama. In some instances, it’s actually much harder because you’ll often be expected to write a funny script. No post-modern cultural references, intellectual quips or self-reflective wit, just make the script funny through the characters and story. No pressure.
Writing for kids is the purest form of storytelling because it’s free of ego and cynicism. Kids don’t care if you’re Russell T Davies. They only care if Russell T Davies tells them a good story. An idea that grabs. A story with a sense of urgency. Characters who we really care about. A plot with unpredictable twists and turns. Think kids aren’t sophisticated and can’t see a twist from a mile away? Think again.
What’s that, bunky? You say you’re feeling tired, defeated even because media pros like Charlie Kaufman, David Lynch, Paul Schrader, and way too many others are monopolizing Kickstarter and getting the funding you know should have been earmarked for you?
You need to learn how to work it, dude. How to make Kickstarter your bitch. And Michael Cavna and Keith Knight are here to tell you just what to do:
HOW TO KICKSTARTER: Cartoonist Keith Knight’s 14 Tips for a More Successful Funding Campaign
by Michael Cavna
IT’S ONLY NOW, more than a month later, that Keith Knight fully realizes he didn’t quite know what he was doing.
“I went into it rather naive on what to do,” Knight tells Comic Riffs of his successful $40,000 Kickstarter funding campaign for his comic “I Was a Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator.” Fortunately, “It was with the help of several readers who wrote and said: ‘I know you don’t wanna be rude bugging people about this, but [here’s] something you gotta do if you wanna make it happen…”
So that all fund-seeking creators and generous fans might benefit from his wisdom and missteps — from the finances to the psychology — here are Keith Knight’s 14 Tips for a More Successful Kickstarter:
1. I’D HAVE a countdown on my website saying, “10-9-8 [etc.] days till the launch of my Kickstarter Campaign!!”
2. A FEW FOLKS said I put the funding goal too high. They said the way to do it is to set it at the lowest level that you’d do it for, because it’ll definitely get reached, and most likely surpassed, and then people get all giddy and throw tons more money on top. People love a winner.
3. BE SURE that your campaign launches ends during the week, not the weekend. Weekends are where Kickstarter campaigns go to die.
Our not-so-tame Saskatchewanian, Anil, has spent his entire L.A. lifetime in the local comedy club scene. Time now for a short report on what he’s learned:
To save aspiring comedians and comedy writers a lifetime of awkward silence from their sensitive comedy brethren, TVWriter.Com presents the simple rules for navigating the minefield of Joke Court. Take these rules to work-out rooms, smokey patios and dive restaurants full of funny people assured justice will always be served.
The Rules of Joke Court
Make sure you’re in court. Even if it seems like a fellow comedian is asking for help, s/he may not be. Sure, s/he just said, “I really need help fixing this joke” out loud, but the subtext was “I’m dying on stage and the universal panic move of all comedians is to narrate their own act. I know I’m in the toilet, but I’m thinking out loud. Don’t interrupt me.” Always ask if you can make a suggestion, and only when the performer seems ready and receptive.
Listen. Nothing helps less than notes on material no one heard but you.
Don’t confuse style with mechanics. Sometimes a joke falls flat because it doesn’t fit a comedian’s POV, or has meandered structure. Don’t offer your version of the joke. Focus on the mechanics, and help shape their version of the joke. It will help your writing immensely.
All records are sealed. A spitballing session can quickly turn into a heated, explicit debate about politics, sexual deviancy, criminal behaviour or religious beliefs. Don’t get offended. Don’t judge. Don’t take the transcript out in public. Some of the best material comes in the worst mess, but you’ll never find it without a safe place to do the digging.
Everything is on the record. If you want to use something funny that came up in conversation, ask. Let it be known you’re interested in developing the gag. If there’s a dispute over who’s ‘brilliant idea’ it is, drop it. There’s no shortage of funny in the world. Something else will come along.
Don’t hold grudges. The people who give you the best notes are the ones who genuinely want you to be your funniest. Consider all options.
The judge’s ruling is final. Even if the jury hates it, the comedian who wrote the bit passes the final sentence. If s/he wants to stick with it, don’t push prosecution after the gavel’s been dropped.
EDITED BY TVWriter™ TO ADD THE FOLLOWING 2nd THOUGHT: Okay, so you might not want to use these rules in this particular workout room/club: