Issue: August 1, 2008


While many post pros spend their day providing creative services to outside clients, we’ll often hear about “the side project” they’re working on, based on an original idea or collaboration they’re involved in, all with the goal of creating original content.

Josh Selig, the founder of NYC’s Little Airplane Productions, says his studio has always relied on original ideas, rather than service work. The studio has a hit with The Wonder Pets!, which airs on Nick Jr., and recently launched a new animated series, 3rd & Bird!, which airs on the BBC’s preschool programming block.

Speaking with Selig, it’s interesting to hear how he pitches an idea. It’s a different route than the one many take, where time and money is spent producing a show they hope will be well received and picked up by a network. Instead, he’ll schedule a meeting with the network’s development team in which he can present a pitch bible — an actual document containing the show’s premise, synopsis and educational goals, as well as photographs.

“We believe strongly in paper development,” says Selig. “You show them your idea, and if they are interested, you talk about schedule, budget, number of episodes, those kinds of issues.”
If a broadcaster wants to see a pilot or animation test, Selig looks to them for financing.
“As a small company, we really can’t afford to invest our resources in a pilot or an animation test,” he notes. “There are companies that sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into a pilot before showing anything to a network. We feel that we are a partner with the broadcaster, and as a partner, we really want to hear their feedback. We want to hear what comments they might have that can shape the property, so that it suits their network better. And that’s easier to do with paper development, than with a finished, produced pilot.”

Selig feels this actually helps with placing programs and also shows flexibility.

“Development departments are just that: they want to work with you to develop the idea. They don’t want to simply say ‘pass’ or ‘fail.’ And there are very few broadcasters these days that will simply say ‘pass.’”