A soliloquy for Dogshow.
Back in 2016 / 2017 I was part of the Triggerfish / Disney Story Lab – an ambitious and fantastical accelerator for animated TV shows and movies. The project I pitched was a Bru & Boegie movie, and I got into the series programme. We soon ran into problems – Bru & Boegie is one of the most longstanding projects I have, and I wasn’t going to drastically change it just for a Mouse, so we changed it up to Bru & Boegie’s pets and called it ‘Dogshow with Cat’. We were included in a football shorts compilation Disney was doing, where animation teams around the world would produce animated shorts to be broadcast on TV around the same time there was a big European League Football competition on.
So, we needed to cram a new show into a rough bible of sorts, and the pilot needed to be football themed. Dogshow is not about football at all, but we somehow managed to Venn diagram / Frankenstein Bru & Boegie vibes, a Dog and a Cat in underpants, a Karoo setting and football together (!) into a short, all with a view of making this a longer-running series. We made the pilot at Triggerfish and hired some people working by proxy. With such high stakes, very little time and a guerrilla crew that were trying their best to figure out a good 2D pipeline while the show was being developed (instead of handing it over to a dedicated studio that knows their 2D pipeline), we finished the short. Costs were overblown, but it was done.
The short performed better online than all the other shorts from around the world. It recently clocked 1 million views, and to be honest I feel a bit bad until a commercial video I’ve been paid to do clocks at least 1 million views. It’s kind of like a ‘ok, the litmus test is in, we did something decent’.
One of my favourite parts about the pilot is the backgrounds. I worked with Philipe Rios on the environment. Philipe is super skilled, and I’ve luckily found some of the production and pre-production work we did on the show backed up on an external drive. Feeling like the show was a little too low-energy (it inherited that from Bru & Boegie), and always wanting to have done a band show (the messages I kept getting were ‘I really need to make sure I love the show I’m doing’), I changed almost the whole thing up last minute to change it into a band show. Still, a lot of the early work is great, and here’s an image gallery below that you can click through:
There were many people involved in the project, everyone did great work (there’s some lovely animation in there and I can still sing the theme song by heart) and all deserve congratulations for their input (credit list at end of post). Still though, the sensible thing is either handing it over to a dedicated 2D animation studio like Mind’s Eye Creative (we could have partnered up for this, might have proved very fruitful), or hiring people directly to avoid extra unnecessary processes (that old chestnut that often processes are added to computations for a computer to try speed things up, but the more processes there are, the slower things go). If I did it again I’d really put my foot down and insist on getting a tried-and-tested 2D pipeline involved, handling production and budget myself, or not being involved in the production at all and just doing pre-production. I remember the project as being extremely stressful, trying and failing to balance the needs of so many parties, for such a little short. No other project I’ve been involved in prior or since has been so taxing. Weird one – a real white whale. Thankfully, the human mind is excellent at looking back on the past through rose-tinted glasses, so more and more I remember only the good bits.
Sadly, Disney officially passed on the show and rights reverted back to Triggerfish. They’ve kindly passed development rights back to me, with a sizeable fee that needs to be paid back to them (about equal to my yearly income, if I was mega-ballin’ I’d pay the fee myself) should the show ever get picked up (the new buyer wouldn’t be getting that amount of value from just the bible and pilot unfortunately). I’ve pitched it as best I could at Annecy and Ottawa International Animation Festival, but with the turnaround fee and the number of people that have already seen it, and with a very short development time leading to a fairly half-baked show (though with a great 11-min pilot script, Greig Cameron‘s largely responsible for injecting the lol’s), it feels like it’d keep consuming valuable time and energy, difficult to convince someone to partner up with me with the current terms, and there’s still weird juju for me with the it, so I’ve shelved it indefinitely and decided to work on other projects that might have a better chance of taking off. I’m already in deep with Bru & Boegie in terms of ‘sunk cost fallacy‘, don’t need to add another one to the pile 😉 There’s a bit of solace that the short outperformed all the other ones, and despite the struggle, we delivered on what we were contractually obliged to, and on time.
The Story Lab, at the end of the day, has been a success for many people. If I’m able to separate the disappointment of not being able to do Bru & Boegie and the struggle we had doing a 2D short at a 3D studio, we received MEGA value from the whole thing – we had some incredible writing workshops with Pilar Alessandra (her book ‘The Coffee Break Screen Writer is *SO* good, I still refer to it), we got a trip to the US (!) where we toured Disney studios in Burbank, and around the same time I used the trip to meet Pen Ward and Phil Rynda, visit Nickelodeon Burbank and 2 buds and I did an awesome road trip up to San Fran after. So, while the Story Lab was cut short once the DTI pulled funding, chatting to some of the other Story Lab peeps, we all view the program as a success, with many tangential benefits, even if it didn’t relate directly to the projects we were picked for. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I was lucky to be a part of, and at the end of the day we got a trip to the US, got really great lectures and talks to upskill fast, got a short on Disney XD, got rights back for Bru & Boegie, and am back to doing my own thing. On those points, mega grateful and a win all around.
The pitch bible is here:
‘Dogshow With Cat’ … by on Scribd
When thinking about the show and the pilot, I’m a little saddened that we’ve ended up with this great albeit expensive show that’s dead-ended a bit. It’s the kind of show I’d like to watch, with wacky characters, rad music, the surreal and enticing landscape of the Karoo desert – those are the ingredients that’d have appealed to me back in the day when I was a kid, and it’s the kind of show that’d appeal to me now. It’s time still might come, although probably not anytime soon.
In other news, my fairly low-budget (R20k) Pac-Man vid that Japanese musician Fumitake hired me to make has clocked nearly 9 million views. It’s quite unbelievable. I think the song is fantastic and the visuals are just there to support that. I hired long-time pixel collaborator Carl Douglas from the US to help me with the animation, and that was it. I vaguely remember paying a small amount for its promotion early on, maybe that helped. Maybe it got friendly to the Youtube algorithm. I used to be partnered with Frederator, and maybe they punted it a bit. Whatever the case, I’m thrilled because the vid is on my channel, it’s bringing in some revenue and subscribers.
In other OTHER news, we’re still waiting for Moosebox S1 to be released. You gotta have the patience of Job when working with Nickelodeon. My one buddy made a short with them – it took 22 months for it to be released. We’re all super proud of what we made, and am pretty confident the show will do well once it’s released.
Dogshow with Cat credits:
CREATOR/DIRECTOR: MIKE SCOTT
WRITER: RAFFAELLE DELLE DONNE
HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT: ANTHONY SILVERSTON
DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER: VANESSA ANN SINDEN
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: STUART FORREST
POST PRODUCER: JAMES MIDDLETON
ANIMATION: GERHARD CRUYWAGEN, RUDOLPH BOONZAAIER, RYAN VAN EYK, SHANNAN TAYLOR, MIKE SCOTT
BACKGROUND ARTIST: PHILIPE RIOS
COLOUR ARTIST: KAY CARMICHAEL
GRADE ARTIST: CLEA MALLINSON
TITLE CARD ARTIST: JAC HAMMAN
TITLE CARD ARTIST: JOSHUA NEL
VO SOUND ENGINEER: DAVID SCOTT (AT POPSICLE STUDIOS)
FINAL SOUND MIX: THE WORKROOM STUDIO
FINAL SOUND MIX ENGINEER: MICHAEL BOTHA
ANIMATIC EDITOR: MIKE SCOTT
EDITOR: CLEA MALLINSON
EDITORIAL CONSULTANT: LUKE MCKAY
MUSIC: DAVID SCOTT
SFX: DAVID SCOTT
VIDEO AND AUDIO QC: LOFT LONDON
SCRIPT TRANSCRIPTION: TAKE 1
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER: JEAN-MICHEL KOENIG
ACCOUNTS MANAGER: CISCA MEYER
ACCOUNTS ASSISTANT: SHAUNDRE STEWART
VOICE OF CATLYN: JESSICA DAWSON
VOICE OF DOGGIE POGGIE: DAVID SCOTT
VOICE OF FOOTBALL COMMENTATOR: DAVID SCOTT
A Triggerfish Animation (Pty) Ltd, Registration No. 2013/028823/07
Directors: S. Forrest, M. Buckland, A. Silverston, J. Middleton (British), J. Koenig
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