The Ottawa International Animation Festival starts on September 17 and studios will be there to recruit. As well, Nickelodeon will be there soliciting pitches for preschool shows. I'd like to issue a challenge to Nickelodeon and any studio that takes pitches, though I'm confident that this challenge will be completely ignored.
I'd like studios that are looking for pitches to make their minimum deal public. How much of the copyright, if any, will the creator get to keep? What screen credit will the creator be guaranteed? How much will the creator get per episode that's produced? What guaranteed employment will the creator get on the project? What percentage of online, merchandising, publishing and home video revenues will the creator get?
While I have no confidence that companies like Viacom, Disney, Warner Bros. or Fox will take this challenge, it presents an enormous opportunity for smaller studios looking to own intellectual property. Imagine a studio that offers to let the creator keep half of the copyright and half the profits from all revenue streams. Creators with confidence in their ideas would be fools not to take their work to that studio first. Imagine if a studio agreed that if the project wasn't viable after a limited time, the creator could recover 100% of the copyright in exchange for reimbursing the studio for it's production and marketing costs.
We're in a transitional period. What we think of as TV is shrinking and the online world of Netflix-like and YouTube-like entities are expanding. Before the online world solidifies, as it inevitably will, a studio able to attract the best content because it offers the best deal would have a competitive advantage.
It would obviously benefit creators, but the point is that it would be good business all around.
Media companies hate bidding wars. As early as 1909, Biograph was trying to suppress the names of their performers, afraid that they would ask for more money. However, Carl Laemmle hired Florence Lawrence and Mary Pickford away from Biograph and publicized them in order to increase demand for his films. As much as media companies would prefer it otherwise, the business is based on talent. If a studio is taking pitches, what will it publicly guarantee to the talent?
And if you're a creator, do you have the nerve to demand to know the deal before you make the pitch?