Pros and cons of writing for animation?

March 26, 2019
Bob Eckhard

Okay, this week we consider animation and why you should consider writing it.

Interestingly, this time last year I was placed in the finals of the Euroscript Screenwriting contest with an animation film treatment that I had adapted from a TV sitcom idea I’d been unsuccessful with at the BBC Writersroom years before. My experience of writing animation prior to this was a one day course with Barbara Slade in which we watched episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants, Rugrats and Angela Ballerina, dissected these to learn the rudiments of story animation and craft, then used this knowledge to create our own  5 minute animations of these shows – which were pretty good from the class, even if I say so myself!.

Now, you may have noticed how films today are increasingly being made using computerised animation models – films that appeal to children such as Shrek, Ice Age, Antz, Toy Story, and Finding Nemo to name but a few of hundreds. However, increasing common is the use of this technology to reach adult audiences such as Avatar. All of which begs the question:

Why use animation to tell your story when you could have real actors playing those parts? Simple answer: ‘cost!’

Put simply, it’s a case of economics and deadlines as there is far less expense in creating characters that don’t get ill (unless the animator is called upon to make it happen), don’t require a stunt double or demand a huge pay cheque and royalties or fly off the handle or a million other things associated with human temperament. Basically, in animation, no one gets hurt, especially not a highly insured actor. The only negative being that the audience does not get to see their favourite celebrity in the flesh, though they more than likely may get to hear their voice as they inhabit the character.

Pros

  • If your writing craft is good enough there are opportunities to get picked up as an animation writer working on children’s TV shows
  • A chance to corner a format that many other writers haven’t considered.
  • (Like radio) The chance to set stories in wonderous worlds that can be created by animators at limited expense
  • Opportunity to target an expanding market where great story tellers who can write animation are often in demand
  • easy to convert your screenplay which was shelved due to the outrageously expensive budget of locations into an animation with no concerns.
  • Using a mobile phone with ‘stop-motion animation’ software to experiment with animation ideas with a view to developing additional skills

Cons

  • Time and money spent in attending animation courses or requesting feedback from mentors?
  • Learning the format by reading and watching animation scripts and films.
  • Long time malaise of working on projects that are (usually) children orientated
  • Thinking like a child and knowing what and how they are amused.
  • Writing lengthier scripts – a film that requires 90 pages of script will translate to 135 page when scripted as an animation – think 1 page= 1.5 pages (animation).

And finally…

the most important thing to remember

Great animation require great description and action. Before sending it to anyone, make sure the script is perfect. (And that each minute of the story = 1.5 pages )

 

 

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