Studio in a Box


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Just before I published last weeks newsletter I went to a talk with voice actor Christian Poteza. Christian has years of experience in the industry and the unique opportunity to meet with thousands of animation fans. So what he said made me sit up in my seat.

Christian talked to us about how we don’t need the broadcaster or the networks to make anything we have all the resources at our fingertips. He teaches classes on how to get started in voice acting. He works with hundreds of students that want to be voice actors and are dying to get involved with animation. With Switchboard (https://www.facebook.com/SwitchboardNetwork/?fref=nf )he’s showing people how to use technology to start a whole new career in voice acting. What this means is that getting voice acting isn’t a barrier to entry it’s an opportunity. He showed us that getting voice talent is now just about reaching out. Connect and collaborating.

The event reminded me of this video of Ralph Bakshi. This video is 10 years old but couldn’t be more relevant. We all have computers that are essentially studios in a box. It’s easy to forget how many processes are replaced by better technology. With Harmony or Aftereffects on a laptop you have a better multiplane camera than Walt Disney ever had. We might moan or groan about not having the work we want, when the opportunity to make something is at our fingertips.

I know it looks impossible. It’s not going to be easy. You will still need to find away to make a living, pay rent, buy groceries. All of this is manageable. If you want to make something, tell a story and connect with an audience, there’s never been a better time.

All the best
Luke

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Is it even possible?


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The other day I asked myself if all this is possible. Can you be successful making an indie animated series? How can be it be done without a large online following. Without capital. How it all works. You signed up for this list to find out how to make your own series. To make a series on your own terms. When I face the crippling doubt I remember that it’s been done before. We know the process.

We can think of Simon’s Cat, Happy Tree Friends, Ralph Backshi, Veggie Tales. Not to mention the creators who have reached out to me to show me their amazing projects. You can do it. Success isn’t guaranteed but I think if you work smart we can make it more likely.

I’ve started reading business books. I figured that if I was going to start something on my own I’d have to figure out the business stuff. I read a lot of books on startups, I’ve found a lot of similarities between Tech Startups and Television Series or other creative work. A start up is a company that exists in extreme uncertainty. From Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup, he explains his methodology for how companies can deal with uncertainty. I’ll try here to adapt them to your project.

– You will start your project with assumptions about what your audience will like.
– The only way to be successful is to test those assumptions.

So the way to deal with doubt and uncertainty is create, release, learn. Find out what people like, then do more of it. This is the advantage of indie. Being able to release faster and more nimbly than a big corporation. You can build an audience organically and naturally.

All the best 
Luke Coleman

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Freezing Up


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For the past few months I’ve been freezing up. I’ve been sitting in front of my computer sweating about what to write for this newsletter. I think to myself, “What am I doing? I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to talk about, where to start. Who am I to give these people advice!”. I feel so much pressure to start off on the right foot. To share something instantly relatable and useful.

Then today I realized that I’ve fallen into the trap that so many personal projects fall into. I’ve psyched myself out. I’ve told myself that I have to make something perfect. When I know that it’s enough just to start.

When we start a creative project. We create pressure around the project. I can easily waste time planning and preparing and in the end never make something worth sharing. I’ve made countless comics that never got off the ground. Stories that never got fleshed out. There are 117 notes in my Evernote notebook for blogposts (I also have a giant pile of sketchbooks filled with drawings waiting to be posted). I have all this material. But I’m obsessed by trying to improve and perfect it all.


At the start the pressure is imaginary. It get’s in the way and it makes us hide. We freeze up and figure out it’s safer to just not say anything. Or we toil away in secret. Secrets rarely help anyone, especially those keeping them. There’s no real pressure to live up to, just the pressure we create.

Sometimes the work isn’t ready. You don’t want to jump the gun and release something prematurely. We all want to develop our skills, and create great work. I think the sad truth is, is that releasing art is always vulnerable. It’s always easier to keep working than to share. For 2 years my writing partner Isaiah and I worked on a comic project. When we were finally ready to share it with close friends and family, we only got a tepid response. In the end we abandoned the project. There were flaws in the concept that we couldn’t ignore. So we started again. This time trying hard to make something and get feedback often.

I know a lot of people feel stuck. They don’t know where to start. I sure didn’t. What’s changed is that starting isn’t the hard part anymore. It’s just the beginning. All the pressure, all the nerves, it’s just stage fright. I don’t know if this will be relatable or helpful. It’s not really the point. I’m writing this to get started.

All the best
Luke

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