by Leesa Dean
So, last week went to a very cool animation panel that was put together by YouTube. It was in the Google offices, they had tons of great munchies and Fred Seibert (the head of Frederator) and Simon (from Simon’s Cats) were there. Fred is a heavyweight in the business. He was MTV’s first creative director back in the day, which is saying a lot. He’s really responsible for, pretty much, creating the brand. He also started Nick-At-Nite and was President of Hanna Barbera (home of Underdog, The Flintstones and other iconic cartoons.) Frederator, of course, is a really huge cartoon presence on the internet (and tv.) He talked about his shows and production. It was pretty interesting to hear that they actually produce some of their cartoons the way TV Networks do (meaning a creative team here in the States and other work farmed out to Korea or India.)
In particular, he talked about Bravest Warriors, which is a hit for them. I never imagined that internet shows would have budgets that big. As an indie animator/producer, I’m used to doing everything myself for no money. And ad dollars, even with millions of views, can’t really pay for a show produced on that level, unless you have some great branding thing going on…I think. I’m guessing (and this is a total guess) that his other shows on cable and broadcast are so successful, they can, in part, finance the internet shows, which is, to me, a very very smart gamble/business move if that’s the way he’s rocking it.
Next up was Simon from the wildly successful, Simon’s Cats. Turns out he also has a ton of experience as an animator. Simon’s Cat was just something he thought up for fun and it took off (millions of views, book sales, etc.) Now he directs and has an animator who does all the work. Just one animator. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the work. It’s simple but incredibly fluid.
Also got to meet a number of other animators, which was definitely cool. Plus hang out with the ever-present Kai Alexandre. He told me the latest about his new network that’s launching in a few months–every every exciting!
The next day, I finally got to hook up with Rollo. I was feeling pretty good–views are up (Episode 6 of Chilltown has over 37,000 between Blip and Youtube) and got another great review from notoriously picky blog, ComedyTVisDead–but still braced myself for…I don’t even know what. Cable TV is really where I want my show to be. Either that or financed so some of the heat can be taken off me (I’m currently putting in an average of 80 hours per week between creating and promoting–it’s absolutely exhausting) and I can get to do a Season 2 with some help. I guess Rollo represents a chance. While I’ve got a ton of irons in the fire and I’m SERIOUSLY skeptical about what he can do at this point, it’s still a shot.
He tells me he’s thought about it a lot and if the meeting ends up bringing a deal, he wants 10%. If not, we can go our separate ways. Which is pretty fair. Ten percent is what I’d pay an agent. I was actually taken aback. I suspected that he was gonna hit me with some outlandish deal that would last til eternity (yeah, I’m a bit a punchy from reading a new crop of insanely exploitative contracts from little guy networks that keep showing up in my inbox.) Since this isn’t a commitment, I really don’t have much to lose. He calls the guy after we shake hands and agree to meet in a week.