Making the Moth City II

& Creation.

Last time, I was terrified by the costs of vinyl toys, and excited by the potential of an animated series, this week I fly the coop, change my world and get writing.

During this period I was sneaking Moth City work into my early mornings and after work. This was quite a challenge considering that the standard work week at Weta is 50 hours. I was often creatively drained by working on all the amazing projects that came through the door. Progress was slow and I was getting burnt out.

I wanted time to work on Moth City, and use all the skills that I’d developed, but I wanted a bit of a change too. Enter Korea. My girlfriend and I packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes and journeyed to Korea to try our hand at teaching English. Best part about teaching English in Korea (aside from Korea itself) was that you only work 4 or 5 hours a day.

And I needed that time to write my Moth City Animated Series proposal. Because I was pretty bad at writing. Rubbish, I was crap at writing. But I bought all the books, listened to all the podcasts and rewrote everything 9 times over. After nine months I had the bulk of a plot and all my characters locked down, and the first episode scripted out. And I had changed the setting. Unsurprisingly, I had changed it to my new setting – Asia, or in 1930s speak, ‘the Orient’.

Click for larger images.

This opened up a world or opportunities. There was a lot of political positioning going on in the East Orient between the world wars; the Empire of Japan started flexing its muscles; the warlord era in China had finished, but a communist rebellion was threatening the Nationalist Party who ruled there; Russia, Germany and America were sending military and political envoys into the Orient to sway events to their favour; and the people themselves were being forced to choose not only how they were going to live in the coming generations, but how they would get there.

Our time was coming to an end and we wanted to journey through more of Asia. We had already visited Japan and China, but we figured we could travel for another 9 months in the cheaper countries of South East Asia before we needed to stop for work again. So I packed up my laptop, and with the intention to continue working on Moth City, we hoped a plane back to China, this time, to Beijing.

We went off on our mighty adventure. We planned to visit China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, and Burma with the intention to write.

I actually did more writing that you’d think. Mainly in small beach shacks with the sound of waves and lizards. Hate me? Even I hate me at this point.

I was focused on creating a ‘Pitch Document,’ a 2 to 3 page document that summarised everything Moth City was. Its characters, its story, its audience and its genres. It looked a little something like this (Note I have covered some parts that may be considered spoilers):

Click for larger image.

I had intended to send this back to NZ to garner interest while we continued onto the UK to find work. Then two things happened, one – I got appendicitis in India, and two – we realised we couldn’t enter the UK for work without returning back to New Zealand.

Both things were not as bad as they sounded. No that’s a lie. The Appendix thing was pretty bad, and I have a pretty tight 30 minute expose on the whole thing which I can rattle off after a few drinks. Buy me a beer after a con, and I’ll let you have it.

So we came back to NZ and suddenly going to the UK didn’t seem so important. It was nice to be home after 2 years and we told ourselves that we’d go to the UK in another year or so. Then the UK economy tanked (hard), and I got some traction with my Moth City pitch (kinda).

A company Richard Taylor co-founded with Martin Baynton agreed to take my Moth City pitch over to New York in their stable of IP. This was a big win, though not as big as I hoped. People liked it, but there was some concern about the tooney nature of the designs, and the darkening nature of the plot and scripts.

I would later reach the same conclusion myself, as well as the conclusion that waiting for millions of dollars of funding to get in behind your story before you can tell it is a funny way of business.

Perhaps I could tell the whole story by myself, perhaps I could finally write and illustrate a comic? Except I’d never done that before…

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