February 23, 2012
Aardman's head of broadcast wonders if the next wave of creative talent would rather be making films like asdfmovie (photo) than joining the TV industry
I am very interested to see where the next big wave of creative talent is going to come from. Very interested. Where is the next Charlie Parsons (Club X, The Word, Survivor… and therefore all of modern reality television) going to emerge from?
Or the next wave of animation talent such as graduated from the UK’s NFTS in the 80’s like Nick Park, Alison Snowden and David Fine, Mark Baker, Tony Collingwood (who between them created or co-created Wallace & Gromit, Ricky Sprocket, Peppa Pig, The Secret Show and more)?
For me, today’s creative climate is starting to feel a little bit like the music scene in the early 70s. If you don’t remember it, it was all Yes and Genesis and concept albums and epic, over-produced sound-bilge and flared trousers and stacked shoes, all of which I owned.
In 1977, when I was working in a factory in Germany (another story), I went to some dive-of-a-venue to see a band called The Stranglers. A fight broke out every 10 minutes between an audience member and a band member (usually Jean-Jacques Burnel) but it was the Rattus Norvegicus tour and it was great and it was obvious that something new and big and sensational was happening to music which would never be the same again and I want the same thing to happen in TV, like now.
As the workforce in TV decreases in size, as training budgets are cut and young people move away from watching traditional broadcast television and opt instead to consume their stories on-demand, we may be in danger of deterring new young creative talent from thinking of the television business as a career opportunity. For my generation it was impossibly glamorous. It isn’t any more.
We should expect new talent to be saying ‘no thanks’ more and more frequently to our old media overtures. They seem more likely to be giving us the finger and starting a creative revolution on digital platforms. A proper, counter-culture, rebellious, offensive and challenging creative revolution that a large part of the mainstream is going to abhor.
We all remember ‘proper’ musicians saying of the Sex Pistols ‘they can’t play, they can’t write and they sing out of tune’. Only today we were looking at the 27m YouTube views that asdfmovie has got for one of its ‘shows’, and someone (who shall remain nameless but wasn’t me) said “I don’t like it, they can’t animate there’s no story and…”
Yeah, whatevs, grandad.
But just as The Stranglers and even the Pistols got record deals, so we too can provide a home for the new wave of talent once they’re done with smashing the system and staking out their creative territory.
Provided we don’t just try and defend the old way of doing things and provided we can be bold and open and can embrace whatever comes out of the next big thing we can survive and prosper.
We may be selling new shows shows to Netflix, Amazon and YouTube and they may not look like ‘shows’ as we currently understand the term; but even anarchists ultimately need deal makers and salesmen to earn a crust.
We can still be part of the new wave, it’ll just be on slightly different creative terms.
I hope so anyway, I was listening to The Sex Pistols just the other day …
Miles Bullough is Aardman Animation’s head of broadcast and a regular contributor to MIPBlog: read all of his posts here.