Report – Co-Development: When Two Become One

Posted on: Thursday 07 July 2016 3:54pm by Heather McDaid

In their so-true-to-life simulation, a newbie creator, backed by a panel of experts, negotiated the co-development of his brilliant concept with a rights hungry studio.


  • 20160707_141157Get everything on rights, partnerships and costs set on paper
  • Keep your idea simple and easy to upsell
  • Be ready for change – pick your fights carefully


A mix of roleplay and explanation, the session took you through the whole process of development. Rosemary Klein, Director of TVA, and Andrew Baker, CEO of Kidscave Entertainment, began the journey – in character. Andrew was “an art school grad who self-published a comic book and is making a living from it”… in this scenario – Rosemary was “an executive VP of development looking for a new property”.

First they discussed structure, rights ownership, holdbacks, and the term. Is Rosemary talking to the right person? Have they signed their rights over to a publisher? You need to be able to explain what rights you have, and what they can use. Without merchandise and gaming, you will immediately struggle to sell animation.

The best deal is usually to option: grant exclusive rights to the developer for a set time, and if they hit a trigger (funding, for example) then it’s theirs to continue the project. If not, your rights return. Partnering with a developer can open doors, though it almost doesn’t matter if the idea is good enough and you get yourself in front of the right person, but a strong partnership is needed at some point, and gives you credence.

Tim Patterson, CEO of T1M Consult, and Debbie Macdonald, Children’s Media Consultant moved in to explain the next steps. Align yourself with someone who knows what they’re doing – it gives a confidence to the broadcaster that your show will be produced in the right manner, and the creator will be managed by someone else. They need to know how it’s going to perform, ratings, if it’s on brand, or can travel internationally. If you go to a broadcaster on your own as a creator, you must have confidence, and an idea so clear to understand that it’s easy to upsell.

There is a risk of over-development, so have a vision for the design, what shows it emulates but how it complements, not copies. Is it on brand for them? Tell them how it sits with their channel. Even if you don’t get picked up, it will leave a good impression. If you go in with no research, it may stop you getting a second chance.

Finally, Angela Salt of Fun Crew talked about her years trying to get her idea developed, and eventual success. You have to carry on, and know that you can keep trying. She’s still learning, even with her own indie creation company. It’s important to look long term, and be proactive – she puts herself forward at things. A Dragon’s Den style event at CMC was how she ended up getting taken on, forming a great idea and having a drive to learn impressed everyone through the process.

Be tenacious, open and collaborative – pick your battles, because if you fight for everything you’ll probably get nothing. Overall, you need to be resilient, enthusiastic and have a clear sense of what you want to show people – it’s always about the story. You need to constantly adapt to change, and pick your partners well. You can’t create in a vacuum so be involved, go in with an attitude to learn as much as you can. Don’t be afraid.

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Heather McDaid

About the author

Heather McDaid

ScotLitFest, Co-ordinator

Heather is the coordinator of ScotLitFest, a virtual book festival celebrating Scottish literature as part of the Saltire Society's 80th anniversary, social media officer for the Society of Young Publishers Scotland and a freelance writer and publishing person. When not writing about music for magazines including Upset and Rock Sound, she… Read more