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Dave Levy does it again.

September 14th, 2009

Animation Development: From Pitch to Production
By David B. Levy
Allworth Press/School of Visual Arts
Publication date: September 8, 2009

If you’re even thinking of wanting to make your own television series, you better get David Levy’s latest book. Our closest readers already know that Dave is a FOF, but I hope that many more people know him as a talented and skilled animation director/producer/artist, blogger, and ASIFA-East President.

And, a unique author about the animation business.

As far as I can tell, no one has written like Dave  about the practical aspects of participating in our industry with such clarity, thoroughness, and insight.  When I picked up his 2006 book, Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive, I expected to be self centered and only read the index items about moi; two days later I’d devoured it cover to cover, shocked at how readable and smart it was. These kind of books are never good, are they? Well, this one was good, and better. Dave didn’t miss a thing.

He’s hit it out of the park again with the new book.  (Full disclosure below.)

Once again, Dave has researched the development process completely, much of it with his own blood and sweat on the floor, and share his findings with us. I’m not a good enough writer myself to go into detail, but he covers the pitch, legalities, money, pilots, creative notes. Importantly, he also goes into detail about the roller coasters of ups and downs of the entire process. Personally, I relate to this most of all, having been around the business of creative for over 35 years, most of it in abject failure, only selling my first animated show 25 years into the biz.

I wish I could pull some of the quotes that really hit home, but when I started compiling them, there were so many that I just couldn’t make a choice of the best. Trust me, there are a lot of really good ones.

Buy Dave’s book, you will not regret it.


Now, for the full disclosure. There’s an entire chapter (”Emotional Rescue,” Chapter 7) devoted to how my company and I (but mainly me; the fish stinks from the head) wrenched Dave from pillar to post for more than an entire year of his pitching us multiple projects over and over again, only to end up with a “no” every time.

It was painful to read, though Dave goes out of his way –way out of his way– to be fair minded as to why things might have happened the way they did. Of course, it was far more painful for him to live it than it was for me to read it, as it always is for a creative person who’s trying to bring their vision to the commercial marketplace. (I know it’s hard to accept, but most of our life at Frederator is pitching and being rejected. And frankly, I’m far less even handed about the rejection than most of you are.) Dave does his best to present all of his experiences with us in a light that can show his readers the extreme highs and lows every potential creator goes through, but I know it must have been a hard chapter to write and a harder one to live. Thanks for your balance Dave.

The chapter’s all the worse for Dave’s accurate journalism, his attention to detail, and his memories of every stab we (inadverently and almost unavoidably) inflicted upon him and his collaborators. Frederator really wanted to make a film with Dave, it didn’t work out, and we all felt bad. But he felt the worst, and that sucked. We didn’t mean for it to be hard, we never do. But sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to, no matter one’s intentions.

In Hollywood, nobody knows anything,” is a quote I invoke often (from famous writer William Goldman’s “Adventures in the Screen Trade“) to illustrate how often I’m wrong in my statements and my judgements (contrary to a feeling many have about my own view of my confident sounding opinions) and reading Dave’s chapter on his time with Frederator only reinforces that thought.

Dave continues to develop and he’s been proven right by his development pick-up at a major network, The Disney Channel. He’s a keeper and our business is richer for his involvement. Thanks Dave.

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