(Editor’s Note – The opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author. Any questions/comments should be directed to its author, Josh Selig, and not KidScreen.com/KidScreen Magazine.)
I got a lovely e-mail from a guy the other day who was so inspired by last week’s blog about indies that he decided to turn down a job with a large broadcaster to spend more time “writing spec scripts, daydreaming and creating new ideas.” He closed with: “Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much your words helped me out making this decision. I’m sure it’s the right one; I just needed a little extra push to know that for certain.”
I’ve been struggling all week with how to feel about this. On the one hand, I’m happy that I’ve influenced a creative spirit to take the plunge and pursue his own work. Who knows, maybe he’ll turn out to be the next Jim Henson. On the other hand, I’m thinking, “Didn’t he read the disclaimer? Doesn’t he wonder why KidScreen Magazine has distanced itself from me? Hello?! Young man?! I’m not sure I’m the best person to be giving you career advice!”
I just hope he has no little kids. If he does, I suspect that one day when they’re teenagers they’ll come knocking on my door and say, “So you’re the bastard who convinced our daddy to give up a salary, full health benefits, and stock options so he could stay at home all day writing spec scripts, daydreaming, and creating new ideas? We will now punch you in the face.”
And perhaps I’ll deserve it. It has become increasingly apparent to me that people other than my mother and Lana Castleman are reading this blog each week, and some of them are even using it to help them make career decisions. This is clearly not a good idea, so today I’m going to do a little disclaiming of my own. I’m the first to admit that what works for me may not work for you. (To be completely honest, it often doesn’t work for me, either.) So, in an attempt to be as transparent and helpful as I can be, below is a list of ten things that I do that I think you probably should NOT do:
1) Bad mouth licensing companies at the same time you’re trying to secure licensing deals for your properties.
2) Purchase a mini-Australian Shepherd on a whim just because the person you love thinks they are “really cute.”
3) Open a production company and animation studio in the United States where labor is extremely expensive and you will be summarily excluded from every co-production treaty, trade agreement, and tax incentive on the planet earth.
4) Sell your latest preschool series for one unit of local currency per episode for a one-year license. D’oh!
5) Open a satellite office in the UK where American-style kids’ TV is about as popular as Mexican food.
6) Run an Academy in which you open your studio to your domestic and international competitors and, for a low fee, tell them everything you know about preschool television.
7) Hire an entire live orchestra to come into your office each week to record the music for a single preschool show.
8) Spend thousands of dollars to go to MIPCOM and then waste your evenings jogging by the water all by yourself instead of schmoozing with your international colleagues.
9) Insist on doing all of your production in-house–from writing to research to music to animation–because you are convinced that being a control freak is a good personality trait despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
10) Agree to write 500 words a week every week for no pay.
I’m sure I could go on forever, but those are the first things that popped into my head this Thursday evening as I sip my rum and Coke. On a side note, I never really liked drinking alcohol until Tom Brown, my faithful Head of Production, turned me on to the sweet, soft glow of really good rum. Now, in lieu of taking proper holidays, I simply work my way through the Caribbean islands, one rum at a time, until the worries of my days turn to butterflies.
11) Drink rum instead of taking holidays.
So, my message to you all this week is simple: Don’t do as I say and don’t do as I do. I have no qualifications. So don’t listen to me. Please. Go watch Jeff Gomez’ Ted Talk. It’s excellent. Or go read a book. Lord knows the publishers could use your business.
12) Make fun of publishers when you’re trying to pitch them your children’s books.
And now, before I do any more damage to your career or mine, I’ll sign off. I’ll turn on Lifetime and watch “Project Runway.” Together, Mary and I will sit on our couch and eat smoked chicken wings from Dallas Jones BBQ and discuss fabrics and hemlines which we know nothing about. And, despite my many shortcomings, and whether or not I deserve to feel this way, I will be happy. Not because the way that I live works, but because it works for me. And now I want you to go find what works for you.