Friday, March 11, 2011

Dogstar Series Two is complete

Twenty-six half-hour episodes of Dogstar series two were delivered to my door this week. They look fantastic. The animation is Flash, but it's extremely classy. Scripting commenced in early 2009, so it's taken two whole years to make the sequel to series one. Philip Dalkin and I are the two writers responsible for the scripts.
I write all the odd-numbered episodes and Philip writes the even ones. Then we swap them, make suggestions about how to improve them, argue, give them back, then write a second draft. Each script goes through four stages. We write a scene breakdown to give people a rough idea of what the story will be like. If everyone is completely happy with it - and they rarely are - we go to first, then second draft. After second draft, there is still a chance to fix up some of the stuff that isn't quite right. It's called a script polish. This is the version of the script that the designers and director will use to do their storyboards for the episode.
It all happens here in Australia, which is unusual for large animation projects. For the last two years there have been studios in Melbourne and Perth, magically turning our words into animation. The director and designer for series two is Scott Van Den Bosch. Somebody really should give him an award. And probably some money.
Writing all the odd-numbered episodes means that I'm the one who writes the first episode of the series. Writing all the even ones means that Philip Dalkin has to write the endings. Episode 26 of the first series was about as final as you can get, thanks to Philip. The missing Dogstar, full of all the world's dogs, was returned safely to earth. Evil mastermind Bob Santino was locked up. The Clarks (the brave crewmembers of the Valiant) became heroes, and people started to take more care of the earth. The end. Or so we thought.
Somebody ordered another twenty-six episodes, which of course made us very happy. Except I had to write episode 27. Somehow, I had to relaunch the Dogstar, full of dogs, back into space. Bob Santino needed to be released from prison. The Clarks had to seek the Dogstar which, of course, had become tragically lost again. Oh, and because Santino's son Dino had somehow landed on a different planet at the end of series one, where he was a superhero, I had to return him to earth, where he wasn't. This all had to happen in 28 minutes, the length of an average Dogstar episode. I insisted that we all needed to go to a nice hotel to talk over the problem.
So, producer Colin South organised a script conference for Scott V and the writers. We all contributed ideas. (Not money. Colin did that.) Gradually we worked out how to get the series up and running again. We were staying at a very nice hotel in the spa district of the central highlands of Victoria, so we were keen to make the conference last as long as possible, but Colin said we weren't allowed to stay there for longer than two days.
My first draft of the script was ten minutes too long. I thought that if everyone spoke very quickly it might work. But the thing with animation is, you really don't want too many lines of dialogue, or viewers get bored and start throwing stuff. So I cut a lot of speeches and two of the best jokes I have ever written for the series. Thanks to some dog-evolved aliens called Canoids, which were featured in series one, the Dogstar ended up hopelessly lost again. We were all very grateful to the Canoids. In fact we liked the Canoids so much that we used them a lot more than we intended.
I don't know if the voice actors for the Canoids charged higher fees when they realised that they had become semi-regular characters. The writers never had much to do with the actors, although when Shaun Micallef (go on, click on that link and play the movie) came in to provide the voice of Boombah the genetically modified cat, I made sure I was in the recording studio. Philip wrote the last episode of series two. This is even more final than his last final episode. If there is a series three, it's going to take more than a bunch of Canoids to relaunch the series.
That's my first big blog post and I was determined not to make it too self-indulgent, but I don't think it's possible when you blog. Some writers do go a bit far. I read a blog where the author included a photo of the cool boots he had bought that week. I promise not to do this. Unless, of course, I buy some especially cool boots.
Dogstar series two will be playing soon on The Nine Network in Australia, then all over the world, because it's been sold to more than twenty countries. (Okay, twenty-one.)


scott vanden bosch said...

Doug ... your writing and ideas are what made this show so awesome

domino effect !!

Oleg said...

Классный мультик, спасибо вам за него!
Хочу посмотреть его, но я из России....

DougMacLeod said...

Спасибо ели свой ​​комментарий. Я хочу, чтобы шоу было в России.

Oleg said...

Когда же этот сезон переведут на русский язык))))