Thursday, January 17, 2013

Independent Producer Nathan Erasmus explains how to get your project off the ground

Gravy Media, founded by Nathan Erasmus
Nathan Erasmus is a writer, animation producer and the founder of Gravy Media, an independent animation production facility. FLIP asked him to talk about the tricky business of getting new independent animated projects off the ground.

FLIP: You are an independent producer of animated films - what does that involve in practice?

Nathan: It varies from project to project, but first it always involves finding an idea I'm passionate about. Initially it's a creative job, pulling the team together, working with the writer to develop the story, developing the visuals, and the business plan. After that I become a traveling salesman, attracting investment and pulling in the executives and sales agents to help make it happen.

FLIP: How did you get into the business?

Nathan: Since I was a kid I always wanted to make animated movies. I figured a good entry point would be music videos and initially I collaborated with a song writer called Kristian Leontiou to create the music videos for his (then) new album One eskimO.
One Eskimo
Gravy made two videos independently; they won some awards and then Warner Premiere saw them, liked them and expressed an interest in financing the brand if we could show them a treatment for the series. We spent the next 6 weeks writing and editing the series treatment. It didn’t have dialogue but the visual story had an arc through the various chapters. We created a bunch of mood boards to present alongside the story, and subsequently Warners invested in making the series.

FLIP: How difficult is it to get an animated feature film off the ground?

It's more difficult then a series of shorts as there are so many more elements to consider. It can take years to perfect the world and the story - which can be a time consuming and expensive process. You really have to love and believe in the vision and the people you work with, as committing to produce an animated feature film is like entering into a kind of marriage.

FLIP: Can you tell us a little about some of the projects you are working on?

Nathan: Gravy Media has a slate of 3 feature films. We are developing My Haunted House which I'm making with director Alex Williams and a very talented writer called Tim Lebbon. It's an animated comedy for kids - a faux horror film. It's an original story with everyone's favorite monsters - think The Blues Brothers meets Monster House.