Love Notes Panel at The Ottawa International Animation Festival
A highlight panel of this years’ Television Animation Conference was the WGC sponsored Love Notes, where a group of writers and a producer and a broadcaster discussed the skill and art involved in getting and giving script notes.
Here’s a pic of them. It was nine in the morning, so the writers look better if you squint a bit.
Phil McCordic and Lienne Sawatsky represented the writers, Jennifer McAuley, from TVO was the broadcaster, while Jillianne Reinseth, from Cookie Jar was on hand as producer. Writer Ben Joseph served as mediator moderator.
Travis and Athena from Teletoon sat in the front row with tasers in case things got out of control, but the panel was light and fun and everyone had a good time. Well, at least I did.
By the way, I heard more than one person question the use of “Love” in an animation panel about notes.
So what did we learn about the “notes” process?
- Ben did his homework, getting anecdotes and stories from writers around the country. The ice-breaker was the story of a producer pissing in the drinking water to make it better. (It loses something in point form.)
- It’s illogical to make television, and notes are just about everybody trying to find the best story.
- If there are conflicting notes it usually means there’s one single problem that can be isolated.
- It would be nice for writers if they had more communication with broadcasters instead of relying on the producer middle-men.
- Comedy is hard. Especially across cultures. And jokes are less funny after a lot of drafts.
- Ben turns his internet machine off for two hours after getting notes, to make sure he doesn’t respond too harshly.
- Positive notes are as important as negative notes because a) they help focus the vision of the show and b) writers are babies.
- There are many types of producers. For example, The S&P producer who says things like, “Can we have a karate chop to the neck rather than a fist?”, and the pull-the-string producer who uses the same, over used, notes over and over, like “Where’s the funny? We need a girl. Make them more proactive and aspirational.”
- Outlines are getting shorter in some cases, but in other cases they’re getting longer. I reckon some are staying the same, but nobody mentioned that.
- Writers need to be contained because they fight about changing anything. (Except the good ones.)
- Producers don’t understand cartoons. They’re too logical, giving notes like, “Why doesn’t Wile E. just buy some food?”(Except the good ones.)
- Educational Consultants ruin everything. (Except the good ones.)
- Cultural Consultants are worse. (Except the good ones.)
In short, be good at what you do. And when it comes to addressing notes, Lienne put it most succinctly, “Whoever pays most for the show, gets the notes their way.”
(Put your notes below. Positive preferred.)