Sunday, January 25, 2009
"The Wisdom of Warburton" or "The Art of War-burton"
Today's post is so special, it required two titles. Additional titles sold separately. Collect them all.
One of the most important bits of wisdom I picked up came from Tom Warburton. It fell at out of his pocket while he was tying his shoes. Today, most know Tom as that lovable rogue who created Codename: Kids Next Door or as that funny guy who hosts the ASIFA-East animation auction every two years. Others may know him as that guy who owes me two bucks.
So, what bit of wisdom did I borrow from Tom? Early in his career, while working at his first job at Buzzco Associates, Inc., Tom got involved with ASIFA-East and decided to write a series of articles for the ASIFA-East newsletter spotlighting local studios and animators. To this end he had to contact lots of animation folks he hadn't yet met. By writing these articles, he not only enriched the newsletter and its readership, he also put himself in the position of fostering new relationships in the community. No doubt these relationships offered him insights and inspiration he might not have had without them. As we know, Tom turned out pretty well, so I can't help but assume that his formative years with ASIFA-East (and those articles) were part of his career cocktail. And, it doesn't hurt my theory that Tom admitted this to me himself. Achem.
While no one can follow any one set of instructions or advice and be guaranteed the same result, the same opportunities are certainly open to anyone. My time on the ASIFA-East board opened up countless opportunities, including the introduction to Blue's Clues through board member Nancy Keegan. There are lots of new faces on our board of directors as of late, and the smart ones will stick around and find their own unique ways of making a contribution that may serve the community, ASIFA-East members, and their own destinies.
The important thing to note is that building relationships (by volunteering with ASIFA-East or not) is not something one just does in the first years of a career. Its something you work at each and every day. In a similar way to Tom's ASIFA-East articles, my books have forced me into contact with numerous creators and executives I wouldn't have otherwise met. In fact, I start supervising animation on an animated prime time network pilot next month, which was created by someone I interviewed in my upcoming book on Allworth Press, Animation Development: From Pitch to Production.
These are tough times. We lost a lot of studios in the last year. But, I hope its a comfort to know that networking and relationship building are always within our grasp, no matter what the industry throws at us. As creative people, there's no reason we can't also be creative in how we network. There's no single way to do it. One only has to be true to themselves and be willing to put themselves out there while remembering that its a two-way street. Of course, you have to remember to move your car on alternate side of the street parking day.
The best and most effective networking is mutually beneficial. Note how Tom's articles for ASIFA-East offered deserved recognition for its subjects while helping its author plug in to the local scene and expand his own horizons.
One of the killer networking events in town each year is the KidscreenSummit, which is at the midtown Hilton February 11-13. Networks and production companies specializing in animation send delegates to this summit every year, but the price tag of attendance makes it prohibitive for the local animation community to come out in droves. I've been trying to do an event with the Summit for years now but, to no avail. This year I finally got smart and suggested a Q and A event with Tom Warburton, and Kidscreen jumped on it. Details below:
Cracking the Code—A chat with Codename: Kids Next Door creator Tom Warburton
February 12, 2009 - 4:30 PM to 5:15 PM - Find out what makes one of the industry's top toon talents tick. Kids Next Door creator Tom Warburton talks candidly with David Levy about his creative process, the realities of producing six seasons of a series, collaborating with network execs, maintaining your artistic vision, pitching effectively and much more. He'll also open up about his newest projects-rumor has it he's awaiting the release of his first kids book and has a pilot in production for Disney. www.kidscreensummit.com
In conclusion, It will be fun to share the stage with Tom and probe the brain of a man who owes me two bucks. After tense negotiations with the Warburton camp, I conceded that would also accept a single ride metro card as payment. Find out what happens at this thrilling event. Until then, to wet your Warburton appetite, why not check out his bodacious blog at http://warburtonlabs.blogspot.com ?