Many of the popular animated shows we see on the air today began their life as a simple vision, a vivid image paired with a clever concept that stood out from the rest of the material out in the creative world. Our annual Pitch Party contest is our way of helping industry newcomers share some of their best ideas with the top TV industry experts. Of course, this selection process is extremely subject. One person’s brilliant idea may be another one’s unworkable premise. Just remember that nobody really thought a goofy sponge could be the star of his own animated hit show before Steve Hillenburg dazzled the development execs at Nick with his fantastic pitch back in the late ’90s.
You can look at the Pitch Party as an extremely targeted ad campaign designed to help indie and up-and-coming artists hone their talents to present their pitches to an expert panel of industry execs and agents. The contestants who purchased a 1/6th page in this issue (which has a bonus distribution at San Diego’s Comic-Con event) also have the chance to showcase their ideas to the animation community at large. All submissions were placed before the judges at random, without any school or company affiliations.
We are extremely pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s Pitch Party contest is Daniel Contois, who received the highest score from our panel with his clever pitch for a show called Jimmy Legs: The Down-and-Out Frog. As part of his prize package, Dan will be reimbursed his entry fee and get to pitch to the judge of his choice directly.
We would like to thank every one of our fantastic 2012 Pitchy Party contestants who entered their original ideas to run in this issue. Many of our previous edition’s contestants have had success with their toon ideas and you can read up on some of their inspiring stories this month on www.animationmagazine.net. Please remember that just because one group of panelists didn’t pick your idea, it doesn’t mean that you should just give up on your pitch. Keep asking for feedback from industry veterans and your friends who work in animation. Polish the taglines and the character designs. Read all our articles about what TV execs are looking for in a pitch. Many times, it’s all about reaching the right person who can greenlight your show at the exact right time. As the old adage goes, you can’t win if you don’t play!
And the Winners Are…
Jimmy Legs: The Down-and-Out Frog
By Daniel Contois
Dan’s offbeat frog hero and his post-apocalyptic universe won over our judges this year. The talented 42-year-old Long Island artist has been a top vote-getter in the past five editions of the contest, but this year he hit the jackpot with his creation. A big fan of Looney Tunes and early Disney features, as well as edgier fare by Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi, Dan says he was inspired by his wife Jasmine to try his hand at animation.
“Over the years, my participation in the Pitch Party has given me a great deal of insight into the workings of this industry,” he tells us. “With each new pitch I have learned a little bit more.” He says he wanted to come up with an idea that was totally different from what he usually works on and tried to aim for an older audience. “I knew that I didn’t want the main character to be human,” he adds. “I’ve always loved frogs so that seemed like a natural choice for me. The idea of putting him in a post-apocalyptic setting just came from reading the news everyday and not feeling overly optimistic about humanity’s future. There is definitely some room for social commentary in this cartoon.”
Dan says he’s focused on graphic design as a career, but he would really like to movie into animation in the immediate future. “I would like to get more involved in the areas of storyboarding and character design,” he notes. “I am also currently working on developing some of my other story ideas into children’s books, graphic novels and mobile games. I have started my own company called Rocket Digital Arts to aid me in this venture.” We wish him and his down-and-out frog all the best in the future and hope to be seeing a lot more of this talented artist very soon.
By Doug Horak
Savannah College of Art and Design student Doug Horak came up with a great-looking pitch about a young protagonist and his robot/box creation. The animation fan says the concepts for his pitch came from two places—his sketch book and brainstorming in the shower—just like all his other big ideas.
Doug admits that he doesn’t really have any specific animation heroes. “I try to draw inspirations from everywhere and everything. After I finish my degree at SCAD, I plan on finding work wherever it’s offered,” he adds. “But no matter what my job entails, I’ll always be working on my own personal projects on the side.” Let’s hear it for keeping the passion for animation alive in the years head. We want to see more imaginative ideas coming out of that magic box.
Lard Wants World Peace
By Keith Tutt and Daniel Saunders
The whimsical Lard was created by Daniel Saunders, a graduate of the Norwich School of Art and Design in the U.K., and industry veteran Keith Tutt, the creator of Pablo the Little Red Fox (BBC, Disney Channel). Daniel met Keith a couple of years ago when he was a visiting lecturer on scriptwriting and story development. Keith says he immediately recognized Lard, which was Dan’s graduation film, as something with a very long life.
The team worked on the concept for the show over the last year and set up the web site (www.lardwantsworldpeace.com) where they will offer animated shorts and the series’ bible, as well as ideas for a feature film version. “From an age perspective it’s a really interesting project because it attracts fans from all age ranges with big spikes in the early and mid teens,” says Keith. “But we also find that lots of people’s mothers like it, which is weird and very nice at the same time!”
Keith says he loves series and movies that can become classics and keep on inspiring audiences over very long periods of time. (You can read more about his career and many projects at www.keithtutt.com). “It’s great that we’re already getting a positive response to Lard’s special brand of wise-foolery, and we’re hoping that the third-place vote will lead to some interest from U.S. studios in developing the series and the feature,” he adds. You heard him, folks. Just go to his website and contact him before the competition snaps Lard up!
Animag Staff Picks
First Place: Jimmy Legs the Down and Out Frog (Daniel Contois)
Second Place: Drake the Cool Vampire (Bryce Prevatte)
Third Place: The MisAdventures of Max and Binko (Wayne Lehrer)
Online Voters Picks
First Place: The MisAdventures of Max and Binko (Wayne Lehrer)
Second Place: Bad Penguin (Tony White)
Third Place: Swamp Stalkers (Simon Edwards)