Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spell Fury - Product Placement

Check out the Product Placement that I arranged for Spell Fury. Hell - check out ALL of Spell Fury. It's a good little show. We'll get into a discussion of the who's, what's, how's and why's of product placement shortly.

What you're looking for - and more importantly, what the sponsors are looking for. Do it right, and you can make a deal in an afternoon, the way that Travis Gordon and I did.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Monetizing the Internet - Part 1 What Not To Do

(Okay. So the guy ain't Ben Turpin. But he should be.)

I received a note last week from this fellow, asking me to click on his blog so that he would earn funds from adsense:

Majid Ali said...

Please for humanity's sake please do it once
I have made a blog at Since i have added a google adsense in the blog but haven't made a penny with this. I need your help and support to help me make some money to PAY MY Tuition Fees.

The entire plea is printed in the comments of an earlier post. To be honest, I didn't bother clicking on his blog. I hate spam and I don't want to encourage it. That said:


You may recall my Brain Eatin' Zombie Babies project. Yes, it's still alive - but I'm working on other things at the moment. I will post more BEZBs later this summer. We've had a good response, but it'll take time to grow the property.

In my internet 'travels' I've met some interesting people. One of the most interesting and enterprising is Travis Gordon and his web series "SPELL FURY". Travis has been producing web series for a number of years and his total hits number in the millions. He's not viral by any means, but he's a known presence on the web. In 2009, Wired Magazine called him one of their "Seven Web-o-tainers Worth Watching".

And so you should. Why? Because Travis Gordon is doing it right. Check out his work at

So, what does this have to do with monetizing the internet? Everything. Because Travis has just finished his first web video with a product placement. Working with Travis, I was able to find a major corporation that is willing to feature their products in his show.

Hang in there, because I'm going to tell you how we did it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Key Idea...

I've had a few notes over the past few weeks, people sending Pitch Bibles, links to 'pilots', etc., all asking the same question: "What do you think of my project?"

To be honest, some of them are good. Some are "less than good". I've heard one really neat, original idea that I think should be developed.

But the question that I ask in response to my correspondents is about the key idea behind their show: in the simplest terms "Why Should I Care?"

Why should I care? Why would I (or anyone) watch your show instead of some old House re-run? What's in it for me, in terms of the investment of my time and attention?

When you have a good answer to that question, you're well on the way to developing a successful pitch. So what is the answer?

Strong characters. Strong motivation. Clear goals. Clear obstacles to be over come.
All that 'writer' stuff.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I Hate When This Happens...

I was running some errands prior to an important meeting yesterday when my phone rang. It was the gentleman that I was supposed to meet in a couple of hours time. The Gods of Time had conspired against us - and he had to switch the meeting to next week.


I was prepped. I was ready. I had all my materials and my pitch, down pat. And now...

So we booked another time for next week, said our goodbyes and I went about my errands. Wouldn't you know it, but a few minutes after our postponed meeting time, I had an idea to enhance my pitch. It isn't often that this happens, but its going to work out for me.

Frustrating? Yes. Advantageous? Maybe... We'll find out next week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Someone wrote recently in response to the last post - asking a legal question (of course). I advised them to consult a lawyer and... THEY DID! They actually consulted a lawyer about a legal issue.

I dunno about you, but I have newfound faith in humanity. Thank you, Pitch Bible Pen Pal!

Here's what they asked...

He essentially wanted to make a parody of an existing film property. I said, "Check with a lawyer". Here's what the lawyer wrote:

The short answer is that it is possible to make a film in the manner you are proposing. You just need to be careful that you do not reproduce too much of the original script, music, artworks or film. It can be a fine line between reproducing enough to evoke the original, without actually copying a substantial part of it.

A few years ago the line was shifted a little further in your favour by the enactment of a 'parody & satire' fair dealing exception in the copyright act - but this has not really been tested by a case yet so there is doubt as to how it would be interpreted.

You might also have other rights you'd need to be careful of - using a sufficiently different name to ensure you're not infringing any trade marks for example.

Where there is a significant investment in the film, the producer might decide to licence rights anyway, just to make sure there is no problem.

What's that? Run that last part by me again...?

Where there is a significant investment in the film, the producer might decide to licence rights anyway, just to make sure there is no problem.

A little louder, so the kids in the back row can hear...?

Where there is a significant investment in the film, the producer might decide to licence rights anyway, just to make sure there is no problem.

Yeah. That's what I thought. If you don't own it - clear the rights.

And there you have it. Straight from The Legal Eagle's mouth!!! CLEAR THE RIGHTS!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I've had a few emails asking questions about creative-legal issues. These are things such as, "I want to use (someone else's character) in my show/pitch/movie. Can I do this?"

My general Rule of Thumb - If you don't own it - don't use it. That includes "parody", "fair use" or whatever you want to call it. If you don't have a clear legal chain of title to a property, you won't be able to distribute it, sell it, etc. From my point of view, its more creatively satisfying to make something new - my own unique expression.

When I see a "Star Trek or Batman or (name any superhero) Tribute Video", I can't understand why, with the amount of talent and creativity evident - why they don't make an original work? I understand the concept of a calling card - but an original work - while it won't get the same number of online hits as a Batman-parody - would be just as good.

Let's put it this way. Assume you're a huge Joss Whedon fan. If you had the opportunity to meet him, would he be more impressed if you made:

A) An exact 10' long Lego replica of Serenity from Firefly.
B) A short ORIGINAL video - and tell him that he inspired your creativity.

Let me save you some brain-power. Ive been there. You will have a much better conversation with your creative idol - a "conversation of equals", if you choose Option B. Trust me on this...

ABOUT THOSE LEGAL QUESTIONS: I am trained as an Animator. I work as a Writer/Producer/Director. I am not a Lawyer. I am not qualified to answer legal questions. Nor am I qualified as a Dentist or Nuclear Physicist.

If you have legal questions - ASK AN ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What's Your Agenda?

I attended the Sheridan College Animation Department's "Industry Day", this past week. The student work was presented. There were some very good films, some outstanding work, some run-of-the-mill stuff - but surprisingly no stinkers. Overall, a good solid crop from this years graduates. Kudo's gang. Good stuff.

But one film stuck out. I'm not going to mention names because, honestly, I don't want this guy showing up on my doorstep - but... IT HAD AN AGENDA.

(Crowd: Oooh... GASP!)

It was a political work. Not especially well done from a conceptual or execution point of view. It was there to make a statement. Okay. Fine. Fair enough.

But is "Industry Day" the time and place to make a political statement - when you're trying to land your first job? In previous years, there were films featuring "dick jokes" - again, Industry Day is not the venue for this. Mercifully I didn't see any 'dick-joke movies' this year (although I left early and they could have been saved for the end of the screening).

So what's the point?

There is a time and place for everything. If you're presenting your best work - be it a pitch or a portfolio piece - keep the political (and religious) agendas (and the dick jokes) out of it. You are there for ONE purpose - to sell yourself or your project. Anything that will distract from that single purpose doesn't have a place in your presentation.

I wish the guy with his political agenda luck - but he isn't going to get a job - so he's flushed 4 years of his life.