Answer Editor

by Christopher Macdonald, Feb 7th 2004
Well, Zac and Rebecca are in the process of some major changes this week (and last week) so neither of them could get around to writing Answerman. I warned them that I was going to hi-jack the column and now see what I've done?




“How can I get my script produced by an anime director?” – Countless fans.

We've received dozens of questions along these lines over the years. Regular visitors to our forum can also point out that the question is asked there every so often as well. Every website and magazine dedicated to any facet of the entertainment industry is surely familiar with their own variations of this question.

Most of the time, the answer is a blunt dismissal. There's a good reason for this: No matter how unfair it is, it is virtually impossible for “Joe-blow-anime-fan” to submit his script to Acme-Anime and get it produced. Forget it, it isn't happening, no matter how good his ideas are.

The reason for this should be quite clear. Ideas are, quite frankly, a dime a dozen. Joe's ideas could be bad. Joe's ideas could be great, but they're just ideas. Let's consider the situation from anime director Mr. Nanashi's position. Nanashi-san has a couple ideas that he hasn't had time to animate yet, his producer has a couple ideas too, so does his animation director, and the new in-between animator kid actually has a really good idea for a script, then there's that book by Chosha-chan that he'd really like to turn into an anime... and then there's Joe; someone he doesn't know, someone that he's never worked with or heard of before. Assuming Nanashi-san has worked in the anime industry for a lengthy period of time, and has a few successful anime titles under his belt, the people he'd be inclined to work with are those who've helped him make those successful series, or those people whom he has a special interest in.

So then, is there no chance for Joe to get his script produced?

Yes, there is a way, but it's neither easy, nor fast.

In order for Nanashi-san to look at Joe's script, Joe needs to become one of those "successful people" that Nanashi-san respects. Then maybe he could even get his script animated by a more important director like Jinbou-san.

Joe should consider working his way into the animation industry as an animator (go to university in art), as a scriptwriter (Writing classes, editing, etc... ), as a publicist (Study commerce in University), or as any one of the hundreds of entry level jobs that one can start at in the animation industry. Also, if Joe's still set on doing this in Japan, he must learn Japanese fluently, and he must be prepared to make a fraction of the money he might make in North America.

Another route is to become the published writer, like Ms. Chosha. Joe might turn his script into a book, shop it around to publishers and after he's been published, visit Nanashi-san or Jinbou-san, (if they haven't already come to him!). Similarly, Joe could also have his story illustrated by a comic artist, or learn to draw himself. Although hiring a studio to animate Joe's project is probably outside his financial capabilities, he might be able to work something out with a single illustrator.

Another route would be to animate it himself. Again, Joe would have to go through the process of acquiring the skills of an animator, but then he'd be able to produce something himself, much closer to his original ideas than someone else could. Consider Makoto Shinkai, and his production "Voices of a Distant Star".

Some fans are quick to dismiss the American animation industry, but there are great benefits by producing their work domestically, too. Simply being able to convey your ideas directly with those involved is a great benefit. This ease of communication then allows the final script to be more faithful to the initial ideas. And, as evidenced by non-anime works like Totally Spies and Teen Titans, anyone can make something that looks like anime; but, can your story survive without the "anime look"?

These are but a few of the roads you could take to getting your ideas animated. None of them are easy, but alas, there is no easy road to getting even a low level director like Nanashi-san to consider your project. If there was, all my ideas would be in production already!

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