Newsletter 09 – April 2012
The doctor is IN. No April fooling. And everyone else better run for cover.
Client radiologist Dr. Jesse Cole has an unusual hobby. Well, maybe not so unusual for the open spaces of Montana, but you wouldn’t want to practice this hobby in the neighborhood.
He loves flamethrowers.
And he’s appeared on many TV shows over the past decade using them:
- Weaponology—Military channel/Discovery Channel
- Sons of Guns (Flamecannon episode) – Discovery Channel
- The Lost Evidence: (4 episodes) Pacific – Saipain, Tarawa, Okinawawa, Iwo Jima – History Channel
- The Knob Creek Experience – Current TV
- Guns in America – HBO
Now, he’ll be turning up the heat on the topic of corporate control of hospitals in a medical drama TV series we are developing and scripting with Dr. Cole called Critical Condition.
We are confident that networks and viewers won’t be able to wait to see who gets burned on each episode of this potential hit show.
IN PRODUCTION with MARK & JEANNE
Mark produced storyboards and animatics for the premiere episode of Magic City, which debuts on the STARZ channel this Friday, April 6th at 10 p.m. This new series is a period piece about the owner of a glamorous Miami Beach hotel in 1958 dealing with the mob to succeed in business and protect his family.
In case you didn’t feel the heat, Mark, Jeanne and Wayne have been developing a treatment for an hour-long medical TV drama with renowned radiologist, Dr. Jesse Cole. And Wayne has started collaborating with Dr. Cole on a pilot episode script. We’ve seen plenty of medical shows over the years, but none quite as shocking and bold as Critical Condition promises to be. Check your blood pressure and stay tuned.
The sizzle reel Jeanne produced for client Bass Gabrielle to promote his reality show Bass Kicks Ass is finally complete and it really does … well, you can guess what it does. Check it on the top of the page at this link to Bass’ home page.
And his latest set of training videos for Toon Boom’s Storyboard Pro are now online for FREE:
As mentioned in the last section, our biggest event this month is the exclusive webinar, “Producing a Profit in Animation with Max Howard and Mark Simon.”
If you love animation (and money), this one’s for you.
Where else can you completely invent your own world and characters that stick to none of the rules strapping down the real world?
Where else can a sponge wearing underpants rule not only the seven seas, but spin pure gold for its creator, producer, studio, distributor, network and licensees?
Where else can a family of yellow-colored nitwits outlast the Nelsons, the Patridges, the Cleavers, the Clampetts, the Cartwrights, the Keatons, and the Bundys (and probably the Pritchetts)?
Where else can a fuzzy orange pine cone (or whatever the damn thing is) with a mustache blow out the box office to the tune of $70 million in one weekend?
This kind of weird shit only happens in animation.
And it’s why Mark called his friend Max Howard, the legendary producer whose animations have made more money than just about anyone’s ($3 billion and counting), and asked …
“Max, can we get together and do a one-stop, info-packed webinar where we focus on the most practical and productive topic facing all our fellow animators today?
“Can we talk about how everyone listening can make tons of money at animation so we can all keep doing what we love to do, and as boldly or big as we want?”
Max replied, “Sure thing.”
So register now and tune in on Tuesday, April 10 at 9 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. PST for this info bonanza on how to make money in animation. It’s a sure thing.
Buy the Protect Your TV Idea Seminar
If you haven’t taken advantage of our Free Laser Sessions, for first-time clients only, this is a great opportunity to jump start that show idea you’ve been toying around with in a focused 15-minute phone session. Times are available for 8 weeks out, but grab them fast because they book quickly.
Book your session at: https://my.timedriver.com/H1HQR
Looking further ahead, Mark will be giving his lecture “How I Got Over $2 Million in Free Publicity” at the National Cartoonist Society Reubens Weekend conference in Las Vegas on Friday, May 25, 2012.
MIND YOUR BUSINESS
Here are some excerpts from an interview with Mark in this month’s issue of Animation Insider:
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked in Hollywood after I graduated college. I started off in live-action and still work a lot in live action. Before that I designed and built my own line of skateboards for Schwinn when I was 12. I published a magazine in college called The Belligerent Beacon. I had a syndicated comic strip called Hollyweird, a parody of Hollywood with animals as the characters, which is currently on www.sunnyfundays.com.
How did you become interested in animation?
Loved it since I was a kid, like most of us. I was doing little animations at home. My dad found a studio in Houston and set up for them to show me around their studio. We took measurements from their discs and built our own animation stand. I still use that old stand. It works great! I studied every word in the few animation books that existed in the 70s and 80s, like The Illusion of Life. How could you watch the classic Looney Tunes and not want to animate? Really. How could you?
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’ve lived all over the country and Canada. I was raised mostly in Houston and went to a small college in East Texas, Stephen F Austin State U. I was the only one who knew how to use their animation stand, so I had full use of it. I animated through college but stopped for a while when Bill Hanna told me I needed to work on my craft. (Actually it wasn’t his fault; I started getting a lot of work designing live-action features and while I love animation, I also love money) When digital ink & paint appeared, I started playing with animation again and did a number of shorts. My first professional gig was animating Tinker Bell for the Disney Cruise line. That launched my first studio, AARGH! Animation. I sold that and started up A&S Animation, Inc.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I love my Cintiqs. You can have it when you pry it from my dead hands. I have four just for myself. Two big and two small. I also use Toon Boom Storyboard Pro. Love that software. Also use Photoshop, After Effects, etc. Spend way too much time on Facebook and browsing the web. Love my Xoom tablet. Have a new Sony A77 DSLR that I love.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I feel really lucky to deal with a lot of great people. When I wrote my books, Producing Independent 2D Character Animation and Storyboards: Motion In Art, I interviewed incredible artists. A few years ago I was traveling through China on a speaking tour and met a lot of awesome people. I’ve become good friends with Max Howard (producer of The Iron Giant, The Lion King, Space Jam, Igor, Roger Rabbit, etc). He’s my mentor. I got to pitch myself to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. That would have been a lot more fun if they liked my stuff. Working with Spielberg on SeaQuest DSV.When I won the first Nicktoons Film Festival, John K. had great things to say about my work. How cool is that? The first person I met in Hollywood animation was Andreas Dejas. He was a f riend of a friend and showed me all over the Disney studios back in 1986. My favorite office he showed me was the one with drawings of fornicating rabbits on the back of the door. Got to love those Disney artists! I got to thank him again a few years ago at an animation event.
*Join Max Howard and Mark Simon for an incredible 3-hour webinar on“Producing a Profit in Animation” coming Tuesday, April 10. For more information, here’s the link.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Any job in the industry is better than any job out of the industry. Sweeping floors in a studio is better than management at Wal-Mart. Who are you going to meet at Wal-Mart who will help your art career? Be willing to pay your dues. It will always serve you well and will extend your career.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m still able to scare my kids’ friends. I think that’s a talent. It keeps my house in one piece. I can also see the future when I look back on it.
To read the entire interview and discover more unusual adventures with Mark, plus videos, please go to: http://www.animationinsider.com/2012/03/mark-simon/
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
Mad Men is back on AMC at 10 p.m. Sunday nights, so the viewing world (including big fans Jeanne, Mark and Wayne) is safely back in the early summer of 1966. The “Summer of Love” is still a year away, Mod fashions from Carnaby Street in London are all the rage with Don’s new wife (and former secretary), Megan, and Civil Rights protestors dominate the news angry for justice on behalf of African-American victims. Some things, we suppose (living in Florida less than 30 miles from Sanford), don’t change. But we’re anxious to see Sally get old enough to join the feminist movement, burn her bra, and call her cold-hearted mother, Betty, the “B” word.
Wayne caught the new NBC sitcom Bent on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. and wonders how a show about a single mom squabbling and flirting with her home improvement contractor was ever sold on such a flimsy premise or pitch and got on the air. Perhaps a powerful network executive was having issues with their subcontractor, thought it would make a cute show, and brought in a hungry show runner/writer and told him to assume the titular position. Now it’s the audience’s turn.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Mark Remembers Working with Joe Walsh
I just saw that Joe Walsh is releasing his first solo track in two decades. That means something to me because I worked with him on his last one.
I built the set for his video, The Radio Song. We shot the video on a soundstage in the valley and on location up in Valencia. It co-starred Wolfman Jack, who I also worked with on one of my feature films.
I loved the song. Joe was cool. The set was simple. We built the interior of a radio station on the stage. It was designed so we could take one wall out to location, switch the swing of the door, and have the exterior set for one shot.
Sounds simple. It would have been, except for the Santa Ana winds.
On a Tuesday we shot the stage work. On Wednesday morning, I was driving the truck up to Valencia with the set in the back. The winds were really blowing on the stakebed truck with our large flat in the back.
As I was driving on the 405, a bunch of cars started honking at me. I pulled over and walked down to the back of the truck. I saw ropes hanging out of the back, I slowly looked back up at the bed of the truck and exclaimed, “Where the fuck is my set!?”
Evidently, the winds broke it up and flew it out of my truck. I drove back on the route I took to find it. I found it. Under a policeman standing on the remains of my set in the median of the 405 with two large limos parked there as well.
I approached the cop and asked if anyone had been hurt. He said no. I then said, “I guess you want to see how I had the set mounted in the truck.” “Yep,” he responded.
When we looked closely, we saw the boards we had screwed the set into the truck had been splintered by the winds, but were still attached. The cop told me it looked like we had mounted it properly, but the winds were just too strong.
I told him I needed to grab the remains the set and he said he had already called for a trash pickup.
“But you don’t understand,” I protested. “I have to take it. It’s my job. I can’t show up without it. I’m already late.”
“You can have it if you can load it before my truck arrives.”
And I did. I threw all the pieces in and took off for the location.
I arrived and the production manager asked where the set was. “I have it, but I need every PA you’ve got with screw guns, and give me a little time.”
I had to rebuild the flat from all the broken pieces. I didn’t have enough wood to do it right, so we even used found branches to put it together, and it worked.
As I finished, Joe walked onto set and said, “Let’s do this.”
He had to wait for the set to be lit, so he walked off to the side where I was standing. He had a guitar around his neck (you can see it in the exterior photo) and started playing his hit song, “Life Is Good.” It was just to two of us on top of a hill in Valencia and he’s jamming on one of my favorite songs. That was cool as hell.
You can see in the photo that the set had to fall on cue for the exterior shot. Look closely and you’ll see missing pieces on the top right corner.
The Disney channel beat Nickelodeon in the daily average viewing ratings last month for the first time in the history of the competition between the children’s programming powerhouses dating back to 1995. Both channels have been losing viewers, but Nickelodeon has been losing them at a greater rate, including a 31% drop just over the past year. Disney dropped only five percent.Some industry analysts attribute Nickelodeon’s slide to an over reliance on content based licensed product versus original content. They also point to Nickelodeon squeezing SpongeBob Squarepants dry with excessive reruns. Disney has relied more on original content.Executives at Nickelodeon seem to agree, because they have suddenly gotten more ambitious in ordering original programming. So if you have an original show aimed at teens or children, the pendulum has swung back in your favor.
Where are Mark & Jeanne?
Mark, Jeanne and the boys just returned from a sunny Spring break at the Sony Ericsson Tennis open in Key Biscayne, Florida, where they had front row views of some of their favorite tennis heroes, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Bryan brothers, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Agnieszka Radawanska, Maria Sharapova and Gael Monfils. Djokovic and Radwanska were the ultimate winners in the men’s and women’s singles final.
A true highlight were twins Reece and Luke getting to meet their tennis pro counterpoint twin doubles partners, the Bryan brothers (Mike and Bob) and getting their autographs. Can you imagine them meeting again in a twins vs. twins doubles match a few years from now? (We’d like to.)