Tag Archives: animation

Conflicts

Children’s media is is like a warm, difficult, thrilling, heartbreaking, wonderful vortex of conflicts. Too many to cover in a single post. The obvious example is: what is the product? If you’re making television shows, that’s the product, right? No. Because that’s not what most people are paying for. Your target audience gets it free. Commercial broadcasters are selling ad space and so in a way the audience is the product while others sell products to that audience. What were once secondary revenue streams in licensing are now primary revenue streams for many in the business so toys are the product. And it goes on. That realisation can taint everything. It could make you disillusioned and cynical, unable to put your heart into it. Or it could motivate you to milk those kids for all they’re worth and I’m not sure that’s a good thing either.

What about the audience themselves? Who are you making the content for? Regular readers will know that audience awareness is a huge thing for me and years of time, experience and research goes into shaping content that works for my audience: young children. For me, they always come first.

But the buyers are adults.

TV channels are run by grown ups. Distributors? Yep, grown ups. Even parents who are the gatekeepers of content in their own homes are grown ups. And as is well covered on this blog, children and adults are not the same. They like different things. Some of those adults are very in tune with kids. But not all. And even those who know kids well can still be swayed by their own adult sensibilities just as we all are. That’s normal and to be expected.

So you can pitch to the adults and get your show on television but will it work for kids? Or you can make the best content for kids that few adults see the value of so it never gets a chance. Can you satisfy both? Should you?

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Conflicts everywhere.

So how we resolve these conflicts? Unfortunately most of them can’t be resolved. They are tied into the very core of kids’ media. What is important as you work in this area is that you recognise the conflicts when you find them and you make an active decision on where you stand with them. Otherwise you are navigating at random. For me, my focus is delivering the best for the children themselves. On forming Mooshku, our mission became: if it’s not good for your kids, we don’t make it. On content not being the actual product, I made the decision years ago to treat it as the product regardless. That way I know I’m always aiming to deliver the best package in a TV show, app or anything else. But these are not the only ways to look at children’s media. The conflicts still exist.

Your approach, your own stance on all these conflicts will be your own. What is key is that you have a stance.

A couple of other things:

AnimationDingle

Next week on Thursday the 12th, I’ll be presenting a case study masterclass at Animation Dingle titled FROM BLANK PAGE TO THE BIG PITCH. Using MILLIE AND MR FLUFF as a case study, I’ll be talking through the process of taking a concept from the beginning of an idea all the way to being ready for that green light – development, pitching, tips and pitfalls and a glimpse into our rather unique production methods for Millie. Details will be up on the ANIMATION DINGLE site!

Lastly, it’s great to announce that a few of my projects have been nominated for the Irish Animation Awards. Planet Cosmo is nominated in the Kids’ Choice category and Best Writer. My app Dino Dog is nominated for Best Animation For Apps And Gaming. And Punky, which I script edited and was creative director on is also in the Kids’ Choice and Best Writer (Andrew Brenner) categories. So that’s nice!

DetailsMatter

I was replaying Ridge Racer on the PSP. It’s a beautifully smooth fast racing game and it looks excellent. I played it when the PSP came out back in 2004 and it still impresses today. On one track, a night city track from Rave Racer, there is a bridge over water. I had never noticed before but the water is just one flat blurry texture repeated. It’s incredibly simple for such a great looking game. This got me thinking about details.

There are two extremes in handling details when we make content and a giant gulf of grey area in between. At one end, you have the “ah, who cares?” mentality. We’ve all seen this. Sloppy work that looks or sounds unfinished. Someone made the decision to let it go and, in kids’ content, someone may well have said something along the lines of, “it doesn’t matter to a five year old.”

Then on the other side, we have the few works of almost pure perfection. Every shot, every element, every detail is a piece of art. A thing of beauty. If you zoomed into that bush you see in the background in that two-second shot, you would see impeccable texturing and colour as each leaf sways gently in the breeze.

Details matter. They matter to us and, yes, they matter to a five year old because they are part of what makes up that overall experience. So when making kids’ content, the place to aim for is closer to that perfection end. You have to care. You have to want it to be as great as you can make it.

But if you’re too far over on that scale, problems can arise. Even if you have your eye on all elements, you deplete time and resources and may fail to deliver. But the real difficulty is that it is incredibly rare that someone can keep track of all the details. As focus gets deeper into some areas, others get lost in the system. And people see your end product and think, wow, that looks incredible but the sound mix isn’t so great. Or the music is wonderful in that story kids will never ever understand. Or that would look great in a picture frame but kids have no idea what they’re looking at. You have lost the most important thing about those details – they have to come together to make up a great overall experience.

So you can’t lose sight of that big picture and you certainly can’t lose sight of your audience. Yes, the details matter. But the truth is they don’t all matter, at least not in quite the same way.

The trick is caring enough and having the knowledge to really be able to know which details count and which don’t.

When Namco made Ridge Racer for the PSP, someone made the decision not to spend time or CPU power on the water that is seen on that bridge section for around a second. They were confident in the overall experience, which needed a stable 60 frames per second, and they knew the visual details that would impress: the buildings, the lighting. They knew which details would matter. They knew that if I was looking at the sides of the screen rather than the road while going over that bridge that something else in the experience probably wasn’t working. The result is that the game has always impressed and it took me over ten years to spot that the water is just one flat texture. That’s how to get it right.

Direction

Children can follow a story easier if they know where everything important is. The reason is quite simple: the moment a child wonders why a character is going a particular direction or what happened to the cow who was there earlier or why the house is now blue and not red, they are out of your story. They are likely not looking at what you want them to look at and aren’t hearing the next important lines you or your writer tortured over. If you’re fortunate enough to engage them again at all, they’ve missed bits.

So make sure your audience knows where everything and everyone important is.

You can do this in many ways: clear establishing shots, framing shots in such a way that everyone important is visible, sticking to a few set camera angles and not reversing the viewpoint without a damn good reason (3D animators – just because you can move a camera doesn’t mean you should). These are about getting your animatic right and they’re good guidelines to stick with in general.

If your team have set out a clear map of where everything is, this can be a great help – now you have reference. But guess what? Your audience doesn’t have that. Don’t assume that because it makes sense to you, it will make sense to them. Keep it clear, keep it consistent.

Always ask yourself: does my audience know what they are seeing? How have I shown them this?

And watch for places where consistent geography will actually work against a clear understanding. If a path doubles back on itself, for example, that could have kids thinking that characters turned around and are going the wrong way unless that geography is made crystal clear.

On that particular subject, here’s a little confession from my Fluffy Gardens days: we had no idea where anything was. Not a clue. There was a vague map but we shifted it around to suit episodes and individual scenes. Town changed all the time. Bushes teleported regularly. Now some of you might be gasping in horror at this apparent carelessness but this actually worked very well and here is why: we knew our geography was fluid and we used that to enhance our clarity within individual episodes. It is a 2D show. It is broadcast on a 2D screen with a defined aspect ratio. It made sense that journeys should also be 2D: left to right or right to left. So rather than worry about how Paolo travelled south around the mountain to reach Mavis, we instead made each and every journey a simple horizontal one, either left or right. How do we know when they’re going home? When they walk the other way. That made it incredibly clear to children.

Often but not always the going was right and the coming home was left. Why? Because that’s how we read most Western languages: progress is left to right.

In each episode, I watched carefully for these journeys and sense of place at animatic stage.

I equate making television with doing a magic trick. You decide where you want the audience to look and what information to take in. What the audience perceives as happening is more important than what is actually happening. If you do it well, they won’t notice how you did it. In our case, we kept the journeys in Fluffy Gardens clear by keeping the geography fluid. Might seem counter-intuitive at first but it works.

So whether you lock down a location map or allow your geography to be fluid, keep it all clear as events are playing out in an episode. Don’t let either of those methods work against you. Show children where all your important characters are. Show them where the characters are going. Show them where they are coming from. And don’t confuse the two. If a character leaves or enters a scene, show it. And if, when showing an animatic or rough episode, a kid or your producer or an exec or anyone else at all (even a single person who was sending a text through half the episode) has trouble with the geography then fix it.

The most important thing here is this: when writing, directing, designing, storyboarding an episode, you have more information than any child watching. What you know about where everything is doesn’t matter. It’s what the audience knows that counts.

The good news is that you get to control that.

DoItRight

Don’t worry, we’ll fix it in post. When you see it with sound, it will work much better. Sure it seems wrong now but the story will come together in the animatic. We’ll let that scene go but the scenes around it will give it context. Ah, what do kids know anyway?

Making shows and media is hard. Sure, it can be fun and we’ll all talk about it with a smile to people who aren’t in the business but you and I know that it can be hard. There are so many places for things to go wrong. And fixing mistakes? Production problems? Making stuff work that really doesn’t? That’s a nightmare. It can send problems down the entire chain of production and on to the screen.

So how do we avoid that? Well… you know all those places it can go wrong? You make sure that each one of those stages is, instead, carried out correctly from the very beginning. I make it sound so easy! The thing is, every time you get a step right it becomes harder to get the entire process wrong. The earlier you start to get it right the better.

Let’s look at a real example: an animated television episode.

We will assume the concept is already in place (if not, get that right first). So you have your characters, your setting and you know what the show is about. You may even have scripts already. That’s a good start. But this individual episode is all new.

You start with the story idea. Just the very basics, often a one-line concept. If this concept is good, it could lead to 100 different stories and many if not most of them could be really great. So get it right first. Work through lots of ideas and pick the best or pick one that really inspires.

Once you have that idea right, the next stage becomes easier: plotting the story. You’ve got to get this right because your script will be much harder if you don’t. You need to know what happens and if there are early story problems they will become apparent here. Work at getting this right and you’ll have a much easier task on the next really important part: writing the script.

Now your script has to be good because that defines the whole episode. Pulling a good episode from a bad script? Forget about it. Get your script right and the storyboard artist will have a much easier job drawing a lovely set of panels. Get those panels right and the animatic will be a breeze. Get the animatic right and your animation… and your scenes… and your sound… and so on.

Get it right the first time and everything becomes easier. It sends that goodness down the entire chain of production. Get it wrong and you’re struggling every single step of the way and you’re looking at your final episode thinking, the next episode might be better. Or worse, thinking that it’s awesome while everyone else is hoping the next episode might be better.

So start at the start and get your story and your script right. Only let it go to the next stage when these are good. Build on each step rather than constantly trying to paper over the previous one. It can be hard work up front and you might wonder if there is really value in torturing over some of the details but your future self or your director or your whole team will benefit. More importantly, the kids will love what you make.

 

On a related and not coincidental note, Nelly and Nora from Geronimo Productions launched in Ireland this week. I had the pleasure of working as script editor on the show with two great writers – Andrew Brenner and Emma Hogan. Both of them worked incredibly hard early on crafting lovely stories to get those first stages right and begin the chain of events that would lead to what are now lovely episodes for young children. The core of what those episodes achieve was all there in the scripts and so the production team could spend their time making them wonderful (and that’s just what they’ve done). There are 52 episodes now airing on RTEjr and going global very soon. If you have children, look out for it.

NellyandNora

Midlife

Sorry, that should have had a question mark in the title. Anyone know how to survive a mid-life crisis? I’m turning 40 tomorrow. I am not cool with this at all. Not even slightly. It’s a pretty huge milestone and you know the thing about those first 40 years? You don’t get them back. You don’t get to try again. There are no save points we can reload.

And that sucks.

I guess two things might help. 1) We can try to appreciate what we’ve done well in that time. 2) We can aim to make the best use of time generally, knowing that these milestones come whether we like it or not.

Life is made up of many parts but just looking at work and content, what have I done in that time? Well, I created Fluffy Gardens and that is still one to be proud of, even if I do say so myself. It’s only really looking back on it now that I can see the slight lunacy of taking on directing the entire series while writing it too but if I could do it again (I can’t) I don’t think I’d do it any other way. I love that show and those characters will always be dear to me. And they are clearly dear to many parents and kids even now. So that’s nice.

Planet Cosmo, a show to introduce the planets to kids. I love this show. It was so much fun, I worked with an amazing team and I got to drop in some nice sci-fi references. Best of all is that it did what it was supposed to do – it inspired children. And I made other stuff that I can still really enjoy today: Roobarb & Custard Too, Punky, Dino Dog and more. My favourite? It might still be the Fluffy Gardens Christmas Special.

I once joked to someone in animation that, if there was a hell, you would be forced to watch what you have made over and over on a loop for all eternity. But if you’ve made stuff you like and are proud of, then it’s not hell. It’s heaven. So you better make great content. It feels the same turning 40. If you’re reading this and you’re much, much younger than me (likely!), keep that in mind. One day you’ll wonder about what you’ve spent a large chunk of your life creating. Hopefully you’ll be happy with what you have made.

Am I? I guess. I’m never truly content but that’s a great motivator. I always want to make something better. Something more challenging. Something that will really matter to kids or their parents. Which leads on to the next part: aiming to have something we’re happy with when we hit these milestones. We can’t plan every move and no doubt things will change as we encounter new opportunities but I think if we really care about what we do and genuinely aim for better each time, we’ll hit upon something we’re proud of. For me, that’s building new content and collaborations with Mooshku that will really set up the next decade. The foundations have been put in place.

If your own challenge is not yet finding something you’re passionate about, keep trying different things. That is not wasted time. I animated on features, made commercials in lots of different styles and tried a whole bunch of other things before realising I wanted to make children’s content. Our path is not always obvious.

Hopefully when you hit your next big milestone, you’ll have an easier time with it than I am. In the meantime, go make something awesome. Now excuse me while I sit in a dark room and listen to The Cure…

 

Dec 10

Credits

Credits

You might be surprised at the amount of thought and balance that has gone into the credits on shows I’ve made. It seems like a simple thing: people are hired to do jobs, that’s the credit they get. When shows are made by small creative teams, all adding wonderful new layers to your show, it’s rarely that simple. Your Production Assistant may have ended up a Compositor. An Animator may have shifted to Background Designer for a few episodes. And so on. It happens a lot and I love being open to when that happens. There is nothing wrong with people getting help or giving help in different areas.

Where it gets tricky in credits is where one credit might downplay another. For example, if that Animator above designed 5 great backgrounds and yet your main background person designed 290 then it wouldn’t quite seem fair to have both names up there equally. Maybe at this point your Background Designer is renamed Lead Background Designer or the Animator gets an Additional Backgrounds By credit. So credits are like a story in themselves – you have to think of them as a whole and consider the knock-on effect of each part.

I feel this needs to be right because I believe strongly in this: everyone should get proper credit for what they do.

It is important for two reasons. Firstly, the people working on these shows deserve their credit. They’ve earned it and it becomes part of their future calling card. But also because someone else at some point is going to read those credits and that could have an effect. If they see a Character Designer credit on a show with amazing character designs and then hire that person but their design skills don’t quite match because the credit was incorrect, that creates a problem. If someone buys a show on the strength of key talent and that person didn’t do what the credits say they did, that creates a problem. It is as important for others watching that the credits be as correct as possible as it is for the person credited.

So the main take-away here is: credits are actually important. Let’s aim to credit people correctly.

What has me thinking about this is the whole Zoella ghostwriting issue. Zoella, a personality I wasn’t all that much aware of, has a book out. It has done brilliantly as far as I know and it turns out that there was a ghostwriter involved. So people in publishing know this isn’t anything new and think it’s unfair to single out Zoella. I totally agree. My real issue here is nothing to do with Zoella or that there is another writer involved. It is that her book cover says very clearly “A first novel by…”. It’s not just a celebrity endorsement. It may be a flat-out lie. Or it may not be. We don’t know because there is an assumption that this lack of transparency is just fine. Some people have expressed surprise – don’t we know books like this are ghostwritten? Well, no. Because it doesn’t tell us that on the cover. It tells us something else entirely. Either the author’s name on the front of a book means something or it doesn’t. If it means nothing, let’s abandon it altogether so we’re not in misleading or false advertising scenarios. If it does mean something, then make it mean something. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writers getting help or having multiple writers so, in this case and in other ghostwriting cases, how about just crediting the other writer on the cover too? Or have a Presents credit on the cover, with the real author’s name on the inside (like the Fighting Fantasy books).

Either way gives the proper people credit while also not misleading the people reading those credits. If credits are allowed to become meaningless… well, then credits becomes meaningless.

Introverts

When I pick up my Creating A Show posts, I’ll be getting into pitching. Pitching is a crucial stage and rarely easy but there is some fun to be had with it too. For introverts, though, pitching can sometimes seem terrifying, daunting or just something we’d really rather not do. As someone who has been labelled a ‘high-functioning introvert’ in the past, I might gather some thoughts and do a Pitching For Introverts post someday but, right now, I wanted to just point out one advantage many introverts have while pitching. There are generalisations here and everyone is different but many introverts should recognise what I’m describing below. It can give you an edge in a pitch scenario.

Here it is: introverts are rarely surprised.

Many of us spend a huge amount of time in our own heads. We play things out over and over, especially when we know a stressful scenario is coming our way. Now preparation is key to pitching or indeed anything else so I would always advise as much preparation as possible for anyone but often we introverts take that much further, whether we like it or not. We play out a gatekeeper asking us the roughest, toughest questions. We see them poking holes in our concepts. We watch as they pick up our show bible, find that one gaping flaw and then fling it into the bin. And we do this while getting dressed, while eating breakfast and at 4 in the morning when we should be asleep. Over and over again. We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to confidence but not when it comes to exploring potential outcomes.

So by the time we walk into that meeting, there is very little chance that something will happen that we haven’t already played out a hundred times. And usually it goes much, much better.

This is a good thing. We can identify problems before they happen. If we need to make a change, we can. If we know something might be a tricky issue but there is a good reason why certain decisions were made, we have those responses prepared. Things get easier and better the more times we do them. And for many of us, the first time we pitch a project to someone isn’t really the first time we’ve pitched it because we have driven ourselves demented with the conversation for weeks in advance. So we go in better.

I’m not saying extroverts don’t do this too. We’re all different but I know some extroverts seem to play things out live and in the moment more than the introverts. But whatever kind of person we are, I think the main thing is to be prepared. Whether by structured preparation time or the repetive mental run throughs (preferably both), play it out all kinds of different ways. Try not to be taken by surprise. Be open. But not surprised. And that’s where we can have an advantage.

Nov 26

Go deeper

GoDeeper

I like lasagne. I like to think I know a good lasagne from a bad lasagne, at least to my particular tastes. If a chef makes a lasagne that is absolutely disgusting, I don’t need to know how lasagne is made to be critical of that lasagne. I certainly don’t need to be able to make a better one in order to earn the right to be critical.

The point here most likely seems obvious already – if we have an interest in a particular subject, we don’t necessarily need to have all the skills ourselves to know good from bad. If you love action cartoons, for example, and have grown up immersing yourself in them, there is a good chance you would be able to sit at a desk approving or rejecting action cartoons. Or you could be a critic and write up reviews.

The difficulty, however, comes when you actually have to make something better.

In my first example, I can’t help a chef make a better lasagne because I’m not a chef and I don’t know how lasagne is made. I can’t tell them what they did wrong. I can’t give pointers on better ingredients to use. And I certainly can’t step in and demonstrate how to make a great lasagne.

My usefulness ends at being able to say if I like it or not.

So if you want to make content, it is not enough to have just looked at similar content. You have to go deeper. You have to take an interest in the process. You have to look at the ingredients, you have to learn how others have made things in the past – getting the recipes where possible. You have to know how and why people got to their end results. The theory, the history and the practice. Most of all, you then need to work at it – try, examine what went wrong or right and try again. Adjust your recipe as you learn more.

I won’t ever be able to make a great lasagne by just looking at a well-prepared one. And we can’t make great content just by looking at the finished product either. Go deeper.

Punky

Punky won the Best Children’s Film award at the 7th International Disability Film Festival. This is a really big deal for me. Why? Because it is recognition that we got it right. And for me early on, that was my biggest concern.

A cartoon by its very nature becomes a caricature. As soon as the idea of making Punky was floated in the studio at Geronimo Productions (Monster Animation back then), this thought was shouting loudly in my head. Could we possibly create a cartoon kid with Down syndrome and have that look anything other than offensive? Would it work in the writing? I did a huge amount of research and came across a company that made children’s baby dolls that looked like babies with Down syndrome. It seemed like the most well-intentioned idea so that kids with Down syndrome could have a doll that looks a little like they do and there were huge numbers of parents who loved that. But there were also some parents who didn’t. They felt it was highlighting the differences and not the similarities. And one thing that was abundantly clear is that, when dealing with children’s media, you’re reaching parents at a time when they are still just getting used to having a child in their lives so anything (be it colic, Down syndrome or other traits) can hit raw nerves.

I’ll admit it – I was nervous. For me, if we were to make a show with a main character who has Down syndrome, it would have to be right. It would have to right for children who have Down syndrome. It would have to be right for the parents of children with Down syndrome. It would have to be right for kids and parents who weren’t remotely touched by Down syndrome so that they would have a better understanding. All while still being entertaining for everyone. That’s a tough brief.

Gerard, producer at Geronimo, was not remotely nervous. He recognised the challenges but had faith that we could meet them and overcome them. We had made a lot of children’s television at this point and he knew we had a great team (we did) and that the fact that I was so clear on the potential pitfalls was a positive – we would work to get it right. And so Gerard believed strongly that we would do something good with this show.

And so we went ahead with it. We took what was initially quite a raw but energetic idea, created by Lindsay J. Sedgwick, which had the aims in place and we stripped it back to its core characters – a family. We pulled the age of the show to preschool for many reasons and simplified it for clarity. We focused on Punky but not in a way that would mean we were making a Down syndrome show. We very quickly realised that it was just about Punky and one thing among many about Punky is that she has Down syndrome. It’s just part of who she is. That approach for the show was right because that’s really also the message we wanted for all kids. Punky is Punky. She’s a kid. I guess in a way, I had to get over my own prejudices and stop seeing Down syndrome as this big barrier. You have to take people (and characters) for who they are.

As we fleshed Punky out we got to know her and, as it turns out, she’s an adorable kid with lots going on. The designs were a challenge and we knew they would be but again it was about treating Punky as her character not a condition. We had Ciara McClean designing on the show who arrived at the look of the family, Punky included, and they just felt right. When we got into the writing, we had Andrew Brenner who brought so much to the show. Andrew was perfect for Punky because he has a wonderful honesty about the lives of children in his storytelling. His inspiration comes from real life, not just some saccharine hopes for what real life should be. He got the family dynamic working brilliantly and brought so much humour in the process. Simon Crane directed the episodes, visually telling Andrew’s stories beautifully. And Punky herself came alive when Aimee Richardson was cast as her voice – so much fun and life and personality.

One production later and it was clear: Gerard was right all along. We were doing something good with this show. And it was entertaining for all kids. Everyone at Geronimo Productions brought their best to Punky and that’s why it worked.

And so now this award. Anyone who knows me well will know I’m not much of an awards person but this one means a little more because this one feels like it is saying something to my early nervousness. My fears. It’s like it is saying: maybe those early fears weren’t unfounded but you always need to have faith that you can overcome them. Good things don’t always come easy. So I’m happy to have been one part of that process and I hope that everyone at Geronimo, especially Gerard himself and Lindsay as Punky’s creator, is proud of this award because they earned it. Well done, everyone.

CreatingAShowPart4

Finding our new zookeeper character was about asking the right questions. Who will bring a child into the show? Who will kids relate to? Who will compliment our tiger character? Who can drive stories? You might notice that these are all about what the character will achieve for the show and the audience. The questions are not so much about the character itself. Having a clear sense of the needs informs the character. Once you are certain on those needs, you can move on to questions about the character, who they are and what they like and dislike and so on.

Answering these questions took some time but, once the goals were clear, the basics of Millie and a whole lot more fell into place remarkably quickly. I had an idea of who she was, what she looked like and a name. Showing kids early on revealed that they were attracted to the designs, although more testing would come later. I also was clear on how she could fit into the stories, even though that meant a lot would have to be reworked or replaced entirely so that she could drive the narrative rather than being sandwiched into what effectively were just Mr Fluff stories.

MillieRough02

Oh yes, Mr Fluff got a name too. Mr Fluffington-Strypes, gentleman and master of disguise. The name sounded more than a little posh and yet the fluff made him cuddly, approachable and loveable – and that’s the true Mr Fluff once you get past the airs and graces.

And while these two characters were worked up as designs, the show found its look. A rougher, patchier version of what would eventually become the visual style of the show. Mr Fluff lost his glasses, Millie got younger and cuter and the crayon-like feel for the design happened naturally during this development.

MillieRough03

It seemed like it took so long to figure out what this idea would become. So much searching and pausing and wondering. But as soon as Millie became clear, it felt like the framework of this show formed almost overnight. Was it all there yet? No. Of course not. There was much left to flesh out, to test, to challenge and then pull together but the ingredients of the show were in place. And the thing about all the next phases of development is that, unless the visual design bombed with kids (and I knew it was working to a point – I had one challenge to overcome later), the top line pitch of this show would remain intact.

Finally this was a show I could take to a broadcaster.

Or to put it another way, I now had no excuse to hold it back. No reason to procrastinate. No way of justifying tinkering away at it for a few more months. Because truth be told, I think many of us creators would be happier working at our idea than sitting across a desk from a gatekeeper trying to convince them that we have something interesting.

I could make up no more reasons to avoid putting a two-page pitch document together and start showing it to people. The pitch phase was about to begin. One of the toughest and yet most exciting parts of the process.