Understanding The Mind Of a Development Exec

There’s an interview with Nickelodeon development exec Peter Gal in the new issue of Animation Magazine and I’d been debating about whether I should make a post about it here on Cartoon Brew. Well, John Kricfalusi saved me the trouble by doing a post about the Gal interview tonight. Unlike John, I don’t have any personal history with Gal. I also have nothing against him, but I was still quite annoyed by the piece. The classic line in the interview: When Gal is asked about the “Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching,” he offers this golden nugget, “Listen to my comments and feedback and really think about them.” I’m not sure if that’s one of the do’s or don’ts.


  • http://www.strugglingyoungman.com Shaw

    Just curious: How much of the animation industry is currently made up of execs like Peter Gal?

    • Parker

      This one seems a bit more promising…

      “Brandon Lane began his career in entertainment at the age of 15, when he wrote his first award-winning play. The plays he wrote and co-wrote over the next three years went on to win 16 awards at the prestigious Sears Drama Festival.

      At the age of 18, after training in “Commedia Dell’Arte,” he officially became a “Court Jester” at Niagara Falls’ Marineland, where he wrote the 15-minute silent one-man show which he performed for thousands of children a day as the opening act for the famous Killer Whale presentation. Lane received an Honours BFA from York University in Film Production and Screenwriting, as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate from the inaugural class of Centennial’s “Children’s Entertainment: Writing, Production and Management” programme.

      He also created, wrote, produced and directed Alfredo Tomato, a musical pre-school comedy starring Fraggle Rock/Mighty Jungle veteran puppeteer Mike Petersen. Alfredo Tomato is currently available on DVD.”

      http://www.cartoonbrew.com/biz/9-story-hires-brandon-lane-as-development-exec.html

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com ZekeySpaceyLizard

    That’s very depressing.

  • kzanth

    Say what you want about Pixar, but something I learned recently is that they have NO development executives (and apparently recently dismissed the development execs at Disney Features). Developing new projects is left to the people who actually have animation experience.

  • http://www.deptap.com Rajesh

    I have a few questions of my own.

    Do development execs greenlight projects or do they simply act as filters between the money men and the creators? What is their job description? What benefit do their positions and services provide for their employer?

    And forget what makes a successful pitch, lets focus on successful shows on the air.

    What, to them, makes a successul show? And by successul, I mean a show watched and enjoyed widely? The marketing? Or the content?

    How do they explain the success of shows that don’t fit that criteria?

    As bad as Gal comes across in this “article,” the interviewer comes across worse because he/she asks softball questions and assumes a development executive’s role is necessary.

    I’m sure the companies they work for would drop them if a better system presented itself. While development execs love their cushy jobs and paychecks and won’t do anything to change the system unless it meant giving them more control, their employers want to increase profits and market share, and if getting rid of development execs provides for that, they’ll drop them in an instant.

    That can’t happen if people make assumptions, positive or negative, and ask weak questions or sling mud.

  • http://dtoons-pro.com Alex D.

    My dreams of working in the animation industry is slowly getting crushed every passing day.

  • http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com john kricfalusi

    Hi Amid – I don’t have any personal history with the guy. I only met him the one time and there was another exec in the pitch.

    I just thought it was pretty bold that any executive would brag about not having any animation background before being appointed a “development executive”.

    You would think the execs would keep knowledge like that to themselves.

  • Ramin

    Hi Amid!

    Thanks for mentioning Animation Magazine on your cool blog. The reason we include these exec profiles in our magazine is so that animators get a clear idea of what the gatekeepers at the major studios and production companies are looking for, and what their likes and dislikes are. Peter Gal was generous to share details about his background and his interests with our readers, and I think he gave artists a good idea of how to approach future pitches to Nickelodeon.

    John K. has been subject of many profiles and cover stories in our magazine in the past as well. What John failed to mention in his amusing blog is that the cover story of that very issue was about the talented creators of Nick’s new show, “El Tigre.” For the past 20 years, our magazine and website (www.animationmagazine.net) have made a huge effort to shed light on the art, technology and the business of animation and vfx, as well as profiling the colorful characters that create the cartoons and movies we all love and admire. Our goal is to highlight the work of everyone who works in our beloved animation community–animators, artists, writers, directors, voice actors, execs and tech innovators alike.

  • http://pupick.blogspot.com/ PCUnfunny

    Oy vey. When can we get back to common sense ?

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Esn Esn

    Wow, ZekeySpaceyLizard reads Cartoon Brew. Cheers from another Newgrounds member!

    It’s things like this that made me decide a few years ago to pursue animation as a hobby rather than as a career. The things that I had been hearing simply had the smell of rot all around them.

    I think that the opening of new distribution channels is a bit overrated – it’s really too early to say whether the internet will, create any serious threat to the traditional structure. Sure, you have some people (eg. M dot Strange) succeeding via their fanbases on sites like Youtube or Newgrounds and bypassing the traditional path.

    But the change, if it IS coming, is happening very slowly.

  • http://www.paul-burrows.com paburrows

    You know, I think at times that executives get a bad rap in this business. I mean, sure, there have been a lot of bad decisions made, but that can be said about the artists also. I look at the relationship between Walt and Roy Disney, without Roy’s financial sense Walt wouldn’t have been able to finance all of his grand dreams, there was a few times that Walt’s dreams almost bankrupted them and Roy had to step in and save the company so that Walt could continue. Too many artists have the opinion that my way is the right and only way, I want to do something thats new and exciting regardless of what happens around me. To many business people cut quality in order to make a profit. Being an artist with friends in the business, I feel that we are being to myopic and need to step back and realize the importance of both. They must be doing something right to be getting all these kids to watch, this is a primarily for kids medium.

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    No one is saying that producers and executives aren’t necessary. It’s their job to put a team of creative people together and give them the support they need to make films.

    The problem is when executives step beyond the bounds of their job and abilities. They have no business making creative decisions. That’s the director’s job. Just because you’re holding a pile of money, it doesn’t make you Alfred Hitchcock.

    Roy Disney NEVER told Walt how he should make his movies creatively. On the contrary, he deferred to the creative abilities of the staff and focused on keeping the operation going financially. Execs today are NOTHING like Roy Disney.

  • LNG

    If I had ten bucks for every slick pitch I’ve seen over the past three decades that resulted in a mediocre animated series bearing scant relation to the pitch, I could buy my own satellite. And ANIMATION MAGAZINE about a decade or so ago DID turn into the TIGER BEAT for global industry suits. It reads like those motel chain commercials cheering on corporate American business travelers like they were friggin’ Gods. The saddest truth is that the business person is always king in America.

  • http://blendfilms.com Pat Smith

    Is he trying to make us hate him? Peter must understand the value of credibility. The exposure of his unprofessional leap into the creative side of animation undermines what he’s trying to accomplish.

    At least he likes The Sopranos.

  • Matt Wilson

    I don’t officially have an opinion over this matter at all, but at least the dude’s got good taste. Clone High and The Office? That’s what I’m talking about. Now, execs who like Silverhawks and Til Death… that’s another story.