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Mark's Question(s): Can I Use Animated Material for Live-Action TV?

Categories: Career Advice, Reader Questions, Writing TV.

Today’s questions come from Mark, who posted them in the comments section a few days ago.  Mark asks…

First: How do you ask a question of Chad?

And…

Second:  If I’m a
produced animation TV writer, and want to “break into” non-animated TV,
should I include samples of my produced work in my spec package to
literary agents representing non-animated TV writers? Or would my
animation credits count for nothing in the non-animated world? (Are
there agents that deal in both worlds??)

Well, Mark– Question One: Posting in the comments is always a great idea, and sometimes even faster than emailing.  My email is WDScriptNotes@FWPubs.com, but that actually gets routed through Writers Digest and doesn’t always get to me right away.  Plus, I’ll be honest– I hate checking email, so I sometimes stall.  Or they get lost.  Or I pretend they get lost because I don’t want to check email. 

The point is: posting in the comments is great.

Question Two:  It often can be tough to transition from animated to live-action.  Much tougher, in fact, than going from live-action to animation, like Rick Wiener and Kenny Schwartz, who started on traditional sitcoms like Mad About You and Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place before joining American Dad a few years ago.  This doesn’t mean it can’t be done; Bobby Bowman was a story editor on Family Guy (in its first run) before going on to Yes, Dear, My Name is Earl, and Sons of Tucson.

The bigger issue isn’t animated-to-live-action, but children-to-adult.  If the animation you’ve produced is children’s programming, it’ll be much tougher to transition into “adult” programming.  But material from shows like The Simpsons or King of the Hill will be more effective.  If you’ve been doing children’s animation… and you simply want to switch to children’s live-action… then it’s probably fine to include some of your produced work.

Basically, look at it this way: you want to prove to someone that you are the right person to hire in a very specific live-action arena (whatever that specific live-action arena may be: comedies, dramas, sci-fi, whatever).  So you want to show them material that will convince them you’re the guy to hire.  If your goal is to get into live-action one-hour sci-fi dramas like Caprica or V, a brilliantly produced children’s cartoon probably won’t convince anyone, even if it’s about robots and spaceships.  But if it’s a sophisticated adult cartoon, it might impress them.  So ask yourself as your prepare your submission: “Would this piece of work convince me that the writer/producer is the exact right person for the project I’m working on?”

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2 Responses to Mark's Question(s): Can I Use Animated Material for Live-Action TV?

  1. Matt C. says:

    Chad,
    Would you mind to weigh in on the Conan O’Brien/Jay Leno Tonight Show debacle?

    As a longtime fan of Conan’s going back to 1993, I find the way NBC is treating Conan despicable. They should really be ashamed of themselves for how they have conducted this situation.

    Not only is NBC at fault, but also Jay Leno. What a scumbag, weasel-ly move to completely displace your own successor after having said many complimentary and gracious things towards him and after Conan himself has had so many great and gracious things to say about Jay in the past. I think of the emotional final "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" show this past year, and all the heartfelt and teary kudos Conan gave so many people, including Leno.

    And after all that it has come to this? Is Leno really this big of an asshole? It’s unbelievable. I have never though Jay Leno funny, but I never felt any disrespect towards him either. Now I have lost all respect for him, and I personally know many others who feel the same way.

    Whereas I used to watch "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" every now and then before Conan’s Late Night came on, now I will certainly never watch Jay’s Tonight Show ever again.

    Your thoughts?

  2. Jennifer says:

    Hi Chad,

    I’m beginning the process of writing an original sitcom pilot spec. Have any advice on brainstorming ideas for a brand spankin’ new series? Also, once you have a list of ideas, any advice on how to narrow down the best one to pursue?

    Thanks!
    Jennifer

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