Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stage Stop Starlette

Every now and again, depending on the financial climate, some enterprising financier will step off the stage at the dusty town of El Pueblo De La Senora La Reina De Los Angeles looking to invest in the Animation Biz. Sometimes they have a personal vision driven by religious faith or a family story to tell. Sometimes they've read a positive article about "gold in them thar Hollywood Hills" and seek an exciting investment opportunity. They arrive with a satchel full of money and with little or no knowledge of where to go or who to go to, to implement their dream. I liken their experience to the little farm girl who runs away to Hollywood to become a movie star. The very first person she meets when she steps off that stage in downtown L.A. will dictate how the rest of her life will go.

So it is with the financier. Unless the moving picture business has been your business in general and animation an interest of yours in particular, you must be very careful whose hand leads you away from the stage stop. It truly is amazing how the cost of animation goes up in direct proportion to how much money you have in your satchel! Animation is still a "hand-drawn" product. Technology has added fancy tools and overseas artists have provided a deeper talent pool but there is no "magic formula" to making an animated film. It's just simple math. It always surprises me how complicated this seems to venture capitalists. If an artist takes X amount of time to do a drawing for Y amount of money per drawing and you need Z number of drawings to complete your movie, it should be simple enough to multiply Y by Z to see how much the picture will cost and X by Z to see how long it will take.

Yet, time and time again I see budgets squandered on items unrelated to the manufacture of the product being sold and schedules being wasted on uninformed or ill-informed changes. Soon, there is no money, no product and no prospects for either because simple math was complicated by "hidden costs" that were no fault of the "expert" hired to guide the way. As a result, the disillusioned investor hangs a "Busted!" sign on his "California or Bust" ambitions and turns his wagon around to where he came from. Once he spreads his sad story among his fellow capitalists, you can bet that no more money will be spent on Animation speculation for a long time. Such a pity and so unnecessary. Research, education and good old-fashioned "due diligence" could have placed him on the right trail with a proper guide. I met the stage once when a naive entrepreneur stepped off and I couldn't believe his good luck!


coach1 said...

Dear Mad Animation Profit,

The Stage Stop Starlette scenario is sooooooo common, but your "dead on" discription of the beginning, middle and very sad ending is storytelling at its best.

The animation biz, as is true with all media related entertainment, is costly, but there are so many ways to minimize the financial hits. And apparently so more many ways for the latest "excited investors" to ignore the wisdom and experience of folks like you - whom they supposedly hire for your wisdom and experience. I don't get it (and I've been doing this for a long time), the order of the day seems to be to spend as much as possible on non-production elements and then bemoan the "expense of production" to all who will listen.

Thank you for your insights. I'm enjoying them. Keep speakin' to truth.

Mad Animation Prophet said...

Dear Coach1,

I speak truth to the masses. Only the "wise" receive insight.