Interview with Daniel Franklin, Co-Creator of Teletoon’s ‘Detentionaire’
I love myself an innovative cartoon and I have to say that there are few new animated series out there that have the balls to be bold, strong and original as DETENTIONAIRE. You might remember my review of Dententionaire awhile back, but for those that don’t it’s a half hour show that’s quite uncommon. There’s no superheroes, adult language or vulgar themes and yet it doesn’t fall in the “little kid cartoon” category.
Instead, the show features Lee Ping, an Asian-Canadian student at “A. Nigma High,” and his fellow “detentionaires” as they face all sorts of danger and mystery (not to mention spending time in detention). Recently, I had the chance to get an interview with Co-Creator and Writer of this daring new series, Daniel Franklin!
Thanks for joining me Mr. Franklin. Tell us, how did you get your start as a writer?
No problem. I wrote some stuff and randomly bumped into someone who let me write an episode for his show, Fuzz Pawz. It was a really bad show… five minutes shorts kind of stuff. Did I mention it was really bad?
Still, I was lucky when I started because I got a job right away. After that I had a three year period where I had to work in a gravel pit and as a security guard, but I spent most of my time writing.
That must be an odd way to start your career.
Yes, but it doesn’t matter where you start as long as you get your first professional steps towards what you want to do. You are better writing for a bad show than not writing at all.
Good point. I think what surprises me the most is that you are a scriptwriter with Dyslexia. What sort of unique challenges does that pose?
I don’t think I am the only one, I bet there are a few ones out there, but the thing about it is that you don’t really notice. For instance, I don’t notice anything wrong, but when I give it to people who can read normally they point out all the mistakes. So, as you see, it doesn’t affect me while writing, but it does when proofreaders check it and point out that some words or sentences doesn’t make sense. But for me, it looks normal.
You see, with Dyslexia the thing is that you don’t know you have it until someone tells you that you have it, but for me it doesn’t matter because is the way I do things and for me it looks normal; that’s why when I work alone I hire an editor to correct my work.
So what was your inspiration to become a scriptwriter?
I realized I wanted to make movies, but I wanted to be in full control of my work. With the script you have the blueprints of the movie or a show and in the end, no matter how good the acting is, if the script is bad then the movie will be bad.
As for writing inspiration, I can’t say I had a specific influence… maybe Big Trouble in Little China. Also, I always liked cartoons a lot!
I can tell! Is that what inspired you to co-create Detentionaire, a cartoon that is far more unique than what we usually see on TV?
Well, you see I wanted to create something that I really wanted to see if I were 13 again. I mean you have your 15-minute funny short cartoon, then you have your superhero cartoons like Spider-man, X-Men and Batman and finally there’s anime, but there is nothing “different.” I wanted to create something different and original for 13, 14 and 15 year old kids.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m finishing the script for the season finale of Detentionaire. I am also working on several other things… I mean when I went to sell Detentionaire I wanted to sell that and 5 other shows but they only picked up Detentionaire. Now I have 11 different show concepts so now maybe someone will pick one of those.
Any spoilers about the season finale or upcoming seasons?
You’ll have to wait and see… the first episode of Season 3 is like the very first episode, but it’s not. It’s sort of unique because it makes fun of the first two seasons and then takes a similar track.
We have a lot of stuff that will be explained and other stuff that you will learn about as the next two season’s progress.
Have you ever considered going to a different area of writing, like books or comics for instance?
I prefer writing scripts, I don’t read [too many] books.
What advice would you give to all wannabe writers out there that wish to work in animation?
You should work in a field you really like. It’s not very fun, you spend a lot of time alone but if you like it you can feel really high while doing so. Its especially fun when you write with a partner because you write to impress your partner and in the end it turns into a race of improving in order to impress each other, not in a competitive way but in a fun way.
Before you go, what’s one of the strangest things you did as a kid?
I had two psychiatrists when I was a kid. They didn’t know how to handle me, though, that was a weird thing. I have always thought in a strange way that has been an influence on my work.